Sustainable Business/Management and staff
Once you have decided you alone cannot bring your plan to fruition you have to build a team around you.
Planning the staff you want and how you will recruit them. Once you have recruited them you need a plan of how to motivate them.
the first step is to determine what jobs need to be done that you cannot or do not want wamt to do yourself.
Creating a job description
this should be written after a needs analysis has been done and should cover the following:
- job title
- name of employees immediate superior.
- Employees subordinates (if any)
- job description and its major objectives. (targets for a sales person)
- key tasks and activities of the job.
- What physical resources are required for the employee to complete their tasks.
- Results and standards required for each task. (what degree of accuracy do you require)
- how much authority will the employee have. (can they negotiate discounts with customers)
Analyse the activities in detail. How much time will an employee actually require to do their job. Does your answer require a full time position or could the tasks be better split into two part-time positions. Will your business improve through having an employee take on this role. Would the role be better outsourced.
Conditions of employment
Having completed a needs analysis and job specification you are now able to complete the following:
- employment agreements and hours of work for all staff
- fringe benefits, holidays, bonuses and overtime rates
- time off, sick leave, superannuation
- training, promotion and performance
- dismissal and grievance procedure
- retirement policies (is this still relevant)
- Employment Relations Act rights such as the role of unions
- Health and safety information and conditions
Establishing what to pay staff is always difficult. Remember there are minimum wage rates. Local employers associations carry out annual surveys and this information is available to members.
Once this has been complied it is possible to draft employment contracts. There are two optons"
- use an employment lawyer
- use an employment contract builder
Detailing the person specification
Lists the qualities you require for a a specific position in your business. The person specification speeds up the selection process by helping match the person to the position. The following headings may be used:
- Physical requirements
- the person must be physically able to complete the work.
the job might require a person with specific skills and to be properly qualified.
- Special aptitudes or skills
these might include literacy, numeracy or computer skills.
- Personal characteristics
people and relationship skills. These may be important if the employee is to deal with customers or be or be part of a work group.
- Special circumstances
for example willingness to travel frequently away from home.
Spend time researching how the selection process works. It is important that the recruitment process is professional as this reflects on your business.
There are various ways of advertising for new staff. You may advertise in the national newspapers, regional newspapers, internet job sites, community newspapers or trade journals. If you advertise make sure that the advertisement accurately reflects what you are looking for. If you have not written a job advertisement before find somebody who has and get them to help.
Alternatively it is often worth speaking to your contacts such as current staff, friends and family and industry contacts to see if they know of anyone who may be suitable. It may also be beneficial to approach employment agencies and recruitment consultants to assist in your search. These agencies will all want a fee for their work but will relieve you of much of the sifting through of job applications.
An often overlooked avenue to find well trained staff is to approach your local polytechnic as ask is they have any graduates that they feel might be appropriate for the role you are seeking to fill. With more older people returning to academia to top up their skills there are frequently people of all ages that might be suitable and also bring with them many complimentary skills.
- government programmes
- local authority programmes(such as Task Force Green - NB this applies only to charities)
Do not let subsidies blind you to getting the right person for the job you need done.
Selecting the Right person for the job
What techniques will you use to ensure that you get the right staff member.
Application Forms and Curriculum Vitae
Ask all applicants to fill in a basic application form and supply a CV. A photo is also useful in helping you remember each applicant. You need information from four basic areas: By standardising the information you are presented with you are better able to make comparisons. As a minumum you should request:
- personal details
- education and training
- employment history
The Job Interview
Before the interview write down the questions you want to ask. The aim is to find out how well the applicant fits the person description.
At the beginning of the interview explain the structure of the interview to the applicant and explain they will be given the opportunity to ask their own questions.
Always remember there is a trade off in paying more for somebody who is well trained and less for somebody who needs training. If you opt for a person of lesser training then you get more of an opportunity to train them in the culture of your business.
Managing your team
Your training options might include:
- Choosing a buddy from existing staff
- Sending them on a course(s).
- Hiring an expert for in-house training.
- Teaching them yourself.
Why train staff
- Ensures staff can perform their jobs
- keeps staff interested in their jobs
- keeps staff focussed on the needs of the customer (kiwi host)
- Stops bad habbits developing
- prevents failures, accidents and injuries
- keeps staff in touch with new technology
- earns the business more profits (in the longer term)
How much should staff be trained?
Staff should be trained to the level that your competitors would want to recruit them as they are recognised as the best. The internal culture you create for your staff should be one that means they will not want to leave.(note to review in terms of Principles/methods of permaculture)
Plan training 12 months into the future and ensure it is budgeted for. Establish what learning objectives you want the staff to achieve. Outline these to the training provider and plan to use the new skills on the job. Follow up on the training to ensure skills learned are applied in the job 9ensuring training is not wasted.
There are many organisations that provide on-going training for workers. You might want to consult with:
- Your local chamber of commerce
- The New Institute of Management
- Your local Polytechnic
Motivation is frequently about leadership. Your ongoing role is to ensure that any staff you hire remain motivated and enthusiastic. Anyones first steps in management are frequently stressful and it is important to assess your own strengths and weaknesses. Where weaknesses are identified you need to find appropriate training.
The critical aspect of motivation as performance appraisal. For people to stay motivated they need to know how well they have done. One of the frequent problems of small businesses is that the owner of too busy working in the business to put in enough time to fully evaluate and appraise staff. One of the crucial aspects of longer term sustainability is retaining good staff and delegating to them.
These should be regular and are an opportunity to find out what else an employee might be doing. (note to tie in with the evaluation section)
Appraisals are used to maintain motivation. It is not always possible to offer somebody a career path and simply increasing somebody's salary does not mean you keep somebody's services. the performance appraisal is an opportunity to find out what keeps a staffmember motivated. Sometimes simple things like giving an employee more control over their work can have enormous positive impact.
Internal community focussed budgeting
Another technique is to involve staff in the planning of the business, the hope is to increase their commitment.
Doing this helps draw out the insights that the staff have about the business. When a bonus is linked to a fair budget that staff have contributed to it is a powerful tool in bringing a team together and keeping the team operating together well.
Its about you and your staff.
Maintaining a competitive advantage means a commitment to innovation from you and your staff (Plumber)
Companies that have a strong commitment to innovation and have this commitment penetrate right through the organisation are the exceptional performers in their industry.
Strategies capable of producing innovation require resources and energy. It is important to discuss in your business plan the organisational structures and practices you will put in place to encourage and support innovation. Each of the following topics needs to be elaborated on:
- Creating a culture of innovation
- Encouraging employee innovation
- Building innovation into your business practices
- Innovation and staff skills
- Innovation and your customers, clients and suppliers
- Researching innovation elsewhere
- Implementing innovative ideas
- Monitoring the level of success og internal innovation
Creating a culture of innovation
To find a few good ideas that will create value for your organisation you need to generate possibly hundreds of ideas. It should be the responsibility of every individual in the organisation to come up with ideas, not just the founder or key staff. Concepts for encouraging the flow of ideas include:
Encouraging creativity helps keep staff happy, if they think something is important and has the potential to have a financial pay-off for the company let them follow their heart. People perform best when the are driven by inspiration and encouraged to extend their boundaries.
Encourage everyone to participate
Teamwork enhances peoples strengths and lessens their weaknesses. Effective teamwork also promotes the awareness that it is in everyone's best interests that the business keeps on improving and growing. (but is this realistically sustainable).
Provide recognition and rewards
One of the most powerful tools to get people to be creative and to innovate is recognition. People want to be recognised and rewarded for their ideas and initiative which can have tremendous pay-off's for an organisation. Sometimes the recognition required may be as simple as mentioning a persons effort in a newsletter.
Accept mistakes as part of the process Mistakes are part of the learning process. Management guru Tom Peters says “mistakes are not to be tolerated, they are to be encouraged.”
An example of a mistake that proved valuable – 3M post it glue.
Keep an open mind and think laterally
It is important to be able to look at something with fresh eyes.
- a wood processing and logging, with the collapse of communism and Russia vast forestry resource threatening to drive their margins down Nokia realised its competive advantage was its communication system that it had developed since the 1970's that helped them keep in touch with remote logging operations. Nokia has become one of the worlds most successful vendors of telecommunication equipment.
Innovation through serendipity
Innovation through chance discovery
Velcro was discovered after a hiker put burrs under a microscope and discovered the amount of small loups that held the burr onto his legs and clothing. From here the concepts in velcro were developed.
Ultimately in developing a culture of innovation you want employees to feel comfortable in experimenting and offering suggestions, without fear of criticism or punishment for mistakes.
Encouraging Employee Innovation.
Whilst you may be an innovator yiu may need to familarise staff with some of the hallmarks of continuing innovation.
For example try educating staff at fortnightly training sessions on topics such as entrepreneurship, creativity and teamwork. Each session might conclude with the assignment of an exercise to be performed any time over the next few working weeks, which builds on the lessons learned.
Your aim here is to give employees a taste for innovation so they embrace the process. In addistion incentives can generate great ideas.
Recognise the efforts of employees
If a staff member comes up with a really creative idea even if it cannot be implemented immediately mention it in a company newsletter or on a news board.
Some people are motivated by money and the thought of a profit share or bonus can be a powerful driver. However it is often recognition that is more important.
Remember that excellent ideas can lead to genuine improvements in the business. For example an administrative person may come up with a simplification that eliminates some unnecessary paperwork and significantly speeds up a business process.
Low cost rewards
Successful solutions could be rewarded with additional days off or a long weekend.
Try advertising a problem facing the business that needs a solution as a prize for the best solution offer a weekend away all expenses paid.
A fair evaluation process
Ideas need to be fairly evaluated on merit not the individuals status in a business. So form a team of people from all parts of the business to evaluate suggestions. The input from those who might be involved in implementing a process should also be sought to minimise acceptance problems later on.
Building Innovation into your business practices
Make the innovation culture as inclusive as possible. Consider insertin an innovation clause into employment agreements so all your employees are aware from the start that they share a common responsibility for improving the business.
The process of innovation is not confined to those with technical knowledge and is not limited to developing new products. Innovation is equally valuable in streamlining existing processes.
Businesses may reduce costs by minimising waste and result in substantial cost savings (Green man heat recovery). Often great ideas that lead to innovation come from outside the work place.
It can be difficult to get staff together for common informal breaks. Consider taking them out for an informal meal where you can encourage creative discussion about work. Also include a good dose of laughter at meetings because laughter is an effective measure of how comfortable people feel about expressing themselves.
Experience shows that innovation is more likely to occur in a low debt business. With debt hanging over a business the emphasis is likely to be on cash flow rather than innovation. So effective financial management helps sustain creative direction.
Innovation and staff skills
- This is really an annual planning meeting.
Assist staff to acquire basic skills in creativity, entrepreneurship and teamwork. Brainstorming sessions often work best in the morning, with three to 10 participants and plenty if biscuits and muffins.
- Start with a clear predefined set of problems
- all participants need a bit of background knowledge on the industry or greater environment in which the problem exists
- background research might include visiting competitors, or collecting brochures or samples.
- Make up some creative rules to keep the session and participants focused. 9Only one person speaking at once)
- try and cover a range of issues that affect your business
- keep a record of ideas
- learn how to manage the brainstorming session.
Innovation and your customers, clients and suppliers
Encourage staff to listed closely to customer feedback.
Trusted suppliers can also offer constructive advice on ways to your relationship more profitable. Often they need to just be asked and then be made aware that you value their (ongoing) contribution to you innovation process.
- Create a brains trust.
Made up of selected customers or clients. By meeting regularly you can get feedback on your present products and services.
Explain to your sales staff that on going market research is a feature of your business. The feedback should cover the whole business relationship not just feedback on a specific product or service.
- Research innovation elsewhere
- Use the web its is a cheap and fast way to get information
- In Print
Subscribe to key magazines and journals.
- The people factor
Widen your business contacts by:
- attending trade shows or industry conferences
- keep an eye on employment vacancies – they may signal a change in a competitors business.
- Join your local chamber of commerce
Implementing innovative ideas
The best ideas should be worked on as soon as possible – not just by the generator of the idea but also by others who have a different view point. It is imperative that refinement of the idea starts as soon after brainstorming as possible (while ideas are fresh in the mind). Also to retain the momentum of the brainstorming.
Eg – an idea for a now product might mean a crude model is built from polystyrene, foam or cardboard.
Project selection and management
It is often to select between competing projects (ideas).
Project selection needs to be driven by customer needs.
Once a tram is formed meet regularly. Each innovative idea needs a manager who can draw up a plan and set time lines.
Monitor the level of success of internal innovation
Try to track the number of ideas generated from each division and the number implemented.
You might find that some parts of the business might not be contributing because their ideas are not taken seriously of they have not been sufficiently trained in the need for innovation.
Vary the work
Employees using a variety of skills are likely to know that their work is important and meaningful. The more you can design jobs with this in mind the greater the chance of retaining staff.
reasonable sick leave is in all non casual contracts of enmployment.
There is a right way and a wrong way to dismiss staff or make their positions redundant. If the situation is handled badly you could end up fighting a personal grievance which would entail legal fees and more importantly time out of your business.
This can be the most difficult area for many people starting out in business. When redundancy or dismissal has to be done for the first time it is appropriate to take advice to get the procedure right. Sources of advice might be:
- Employment Lawyers
- Your local Chamber of Commerce
- An Employers Association
While advice may get a procedure right the experience can be traumatic for the staff member and it is wise to try an put a human face on what can be an inhuman process.
Phased in retirement could be attractive from both the employers and employees perspective. As people get older they slow down and want to spend more time with family or on lesure ativities. Phasing in retirement sees the employee reduce their hours of work. The advantage for the employer is that they do not lose access to a skilled employee and the organizational history they possess. With shortages of skilled labour this situation is likely to become quite popular over time.
It is no longer appropraite to set a retirement age.
Good staff are difficult to find and retain. Consider the following to attract/retain staff:
- work from home
- part-time work
- flexible hours – to enable time for family things
- you might want employees to be available outside working hours
- work environment plays a large part in the productivity of staff. This has been successfully shown by case studies on Green Buildings.
- Consider employing older workers
Facilitate this by
- Install a server that enables remote access.
- Provide laptops to key employees
- Pay for home broadband so the worker can stay connected (be careful with FBT issues)
Technology can have a positive impact on productivity. Allowing sales people access to stock information can improve their ability to perform
As your business develops you will find that your customers can become part of your team (don't like this word). Your customers actually have a stake in your business. So why not use them to help you plan your business. Ask them what thay are forecasting in terms of purchasing, or ask them what trends they are following. Lovemarks was a concept developed by Kevin Roberts to explain how customers attached themselves to products. This concept could be developed within your customer base to foster longer term loyalty to you and your products.
As we have said previously the ethical consumer is now a feature of the marketplace and these people are increasingly well educated and increasingly cynical. Losing sight of this can impair your ability for longer term success.
Some of these ideas may impact on your budgets and planning – be sure to include them,.