Of course, we had to start the year with a goals/resolution type post. Are you even a blogger if you don’t?
In all seriousness, I start here for one big reason. I don’t hear many small business leaders talking about their people-related goals. If I ask, they will tell me how many people they want to hire or an area where they may want to improve skill sets. Beyond that, they haven’t given much thought to goals specific to current employees.
If this is you, here are a few ideas.
Deeper Understanding of the Individual
In December, I conducted a Myers Briggs Workshop with individuals who had worked together for years. As always happens with personality type workshops, they all learned something about the others that they didn’t know. More importantly, the leaders in the room learned things about those who report to them that will drastically change how they interact.
The line I deliver the most when talking about understanding our employees is this: “most of the time we consider only half of the person.” We look at them as a skill set forgetting that there is a whole other side to them. This side, their personality, makes up their hopes, dreams, aspirations and understanding it can change how we work with them for the better.
In 2020, make a commitment to get to know your employees beyond just what they are capable of. They are so much more than their resume. Further, they are not all the same. We build leadership styles around a one-size-fits-all mentality and once we start to understand each individual, we will realize that doesn’t work. Spend more time with them, do formal getting to know you exercises if you can. However, you choose to do it, understand them better to work with them better.
I firmly believe that a major difference in thriving small businesses and those barely able to keep the business afloat is the amount of attention placed on leadership development.
I don’t care if you are a veteran leader who has started seven businesses and have grown them all to highly profitable firms. I don’t care if you are a young visionary who has ideas never thought of before. Every leader needs constant development.
While formal leadership development programs are great, that isn’t necessarily what I mean here. I mean, that are encouraged, and where it makes sense, expected, to engage in development activities.
It is an ongoing process throughout the lifetime of the leader and should be a top goal this year and years to come.
Better Listening Mechanisms
Or maybe the goal should just be to listen. I’ll tell you what I mean by listening mechanisms and then you decide which you need.
For years now employee surveys have been all the rage. In recent years, even smaller businesses are jumping on the bandwagon as more affordable survey platforms became available. Outside of the survey, small businesses have conducted focus groups or held all-employee meetings to get employee feedback on certain workplace issues.
Then they do nothing with the feedback.
Or worse, the mechanism wasn’t asking the right questions.
Things blow up and the business wonders why the issue wasn’t forewarned. Maybe it could have been.
Small businesses are in a unique spot when it comes to gathering feedback from employees. It should be easier for them. Yet, many make it complicated by either not asking for it or asking for it in a way that really isn’t driving any valuable information or change.
I’m amazed at how often employees have the answers the business needs to grow, but they are never asked or listened to. I’m also amazed at how seemingly overnight an employee issue can blow up and seriously threaten the longevity of a business. Both could be avoided by simply listening more.
Whether you do formal surveys or informal feedback gathering sessions. Whether you use an independent third party or you are a do it yourself, find a way to listen to employees this year. Truly listen and see what happens.
I could go on. This list could include more goals such as employee training, finding opportunities for work/life flex at every turn, fiscal responsibility that doesn’t leave you wondering if you are going to make payroll every two weeks. But I’ll leave it here.
My hope is that after you spent months at the end of 2019 figuring out your business goals for 2020, that you will now spend some time thinking about your employee-focused goals. You aren’t going to grow the business without them. At least not as quickly as you could.
What is on your 2020 employee-focused goals list?
Originally posted on the Acacia Solutions blog.