Do your staff know what they’re doing?

A regular complaint I hear from my business mentor clients is “my staff don’t know what they’re doing”.


In this blog, I’d like us to think about if this really is the case? And if so, why is this the case and what is the root cause?


Let’s think about the top three fixed costs in any business

Usually they are rent, business rates and staff.


Can you do anything to improve the performance of your rent or rates? Not unless you’re a very persuasive tenant or you’ve got a very generous landlord!


But can you do anything to improve the output of your staff? Absolutely! So why would you not want to try and get more return from one of your biggest costs?


When I say to these businesses and clients, “can we talk more about your vision or mission statement,” they roll their eyes at me as if to say, “I don’t have one of those. That’s only relevant to the big corporates”. But that simply isn’t true. All businesses need a vision and this vision will directly link to the performance of your staff.


Your staff will always struggle to get to where you want them to go if they don’t know where they’re going! That’s why your vision or mission statement is so crucial. It’s your blueprint that clearly sets out what you’re about, where you want to go and how you’re going to get there.


That’s why I urge you, as I do with all my clients, to create your vision and communicate it to your staff. Showing them the bigger picture gives them a chance to get involved with shaping the future of your business and ensures everyone is heading in the same direction.


Clearly identify everybody’s roles

The next step is to clearly define everyone’s role, relating it to that “bigger picture.” Once this is done, it isn’t time to sit back and expect that your employees will all suddenly start performing to the best of their abilities. It’s a continual process, and no matter how much you leave it to the employee, a large part of the responsibility falls on the leaders. Most clients find that the best way to do this is through adding structure, routine and regular measurement.


With years of experience mentoring clients, UKBM has created clear guidelines to assist business owners managing staff in this way. We have created templates for Objectives, Personal Development Plans and Annual Appraisals, the three documents we believe best create this structure, routine and regular measurement for both business owner and employee.


  1. Objectives

Every member of staff needs to understand their individual role and have clear objectives they’re working towards. Ensure these objectives relate to the business vision and are “SMART” – Specific, Measurable, Agreed/Achievable, Realistic/Relevant and Time-based. This avoids any ambiguity and assists with objectives being met on time.


  1. Personal Development Plan

To reach these objectives, it’s vital for both the employee and the business to continually refer to these documents. I find the best way to do this is during monthly 121s. This can be as formal or informal as you see fit, but regularly checking in and tracking progress is another sure-fire way to get things done and build a strong team! It most other business disciplines you regularly measure performance (sales, production output, etc.) But how regularly to you properly measure staff performance against agreed objectives?


  1. Annual appraisal

If you’re completing monthly 121s with your staff, this is simply summing up the 11 previous 121s, looking to the next 12 months and setting new SMART objectives. An annual appraisal should NOT bring up any surprises on either side!


If you would like free templates for Objectives, Personal Development Plans and Annual Appraisals, please contact me directly and I’ll be delighted to e-mail them to you.


I never cease to be amazed at how successful people and teams can be – if you share with them the bigger picture and manage them effectively!


Book your complimentary mentoring session

As a business mentor and coach based in Somerset, I support small businesses throughout the South West of England, including those based in Bristol and Bath. I would love to have an initial chat, learn more about you and your business, and see how we could work together. So, give me a call and let’s get started!


Nigel Browne

Director & Business Mentor – Bristol & South West

Mobile: 07771 920942



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