Every small business owner wants to know what they have to do to get the best out of their employees (and numerous studies show that money is only half the story). HR gurus preach sweeping mantras of employee well-being – a vast, nebulous area that covers health, learning and development, motivational tools and benefits left, right and centre.
All valid up to a point – and often rather expensive – but most small business owners don’t know where to start when it comes to optimising employee performance. In the worst cases they also have to get over their own ad hoc and rather scary personnel management techniques.
The first thing to do is to consult your employees. Then keep consulting them. Consultation is the express highway to performance. It is the most important thing that you can do to get your employees to perform better. It costs nothing except for some time and consistency.
Consult often, consult well and you are most of the way there.
Be honest with yourself. You simply may not be the right person to do the consultation process yourself and you might need independent help. (But if, for whatever reason, you feel that you cannot do it – perhaps this is also an issue that needs resolving.)
Also note that consulting your employees is not the same as having informal chats with them or giving them an annual performance review. It is somewhere in the middle: a regular, semi-formal and structured session that employees know about in advance and can prepare for.
So, put on hold your plans for expensive company visits to Disneyland or free employee pet insurance or surfing Fridays and start a new plan to consult, consult again, consult better.