This is a wish list for most business owners. The answer to this is …… communication, communication, communication.
For Staff – whether you agree or not, all staff are all in sales. You are selling your ideas, you are selling yourself, you are selling your company – no matter your role within the business from President to Administrator. It all starts with empowerment. It has to come from the top down and Staff need to feel “Safe” to be able to come forward with their ideas.
How do you encourage your staff to feel “Safe”? Have you ever felt like speaking up during a meeting but then, decided against it because you thought it would not be well received or your opinion judged? Or meetings are taken over by the strong personalities so best be quiet?
Good leaders notice the quiet ones and set the tone of the meetings for everyone to feel safe and comfortable to express their ideas in an environment that will encourage all to share their thoughts. It is the strong leader who gets the quiet ones to speak up during meetings. Leaders reiterate how meetings are run by stating expectations on how important it is for everyone to have a chance to speak up. Mindful leaders notice when one or two people are dominating the meeting and ask others for their opinions and thoughts too.
Once this open style of communication is set up, people will feel like they are being heard and will start speaking up. This will also increase employee engagement because they feel like they are making a difference.
A true statistic – when employees are engaged they are more productive which = higher-performing companies and increased profits.
A suggestion, ask staff to present 5 ideas on topics such as: how to find new clients, save money or improve processes regarding client interaction. Ask specifically for staff to think about this from their point of view since they are the ones that know their job the best. It is from their perspective that Management will be able to get a good cross-section of Employee ideas coming forward. Once received, it is important that the Leaders take timely action to let the staff know which ideas are being implemented so the Staff see this was a serious exercise and know their ideas are being taken to heart. This is an important step, don’t go through the effort to get ideas from your Staff and then let too much time pass or not implement any of the ideas. Remember, communication! If nothing gets implemented, the motivation for Staff to do this again would be diminished. Taking it a step further, recognize the employee(s) for their great ideas and measure and report the new and improved changes.
Go to your top 20% of clients that you trust. Inform them that you are serious about making improvements to strengthen their experience regarding doing business with you.
For Clients – This is a little more complex. A few ideas to consider: ask all Clients on their perspective regarding improvements they would like to see. It could be as simple as taking a free survey from suppliers like Survey Monkey and having all clients participate. However, that may not be deep enough insight as to how a client may really be feeling. Most businesses have solid relationships with a number of clients and great relationships with the rest. It is the 80/20 rule. Go to your top 20% of clients that you trust. Inform them that you are serious about making improvements to strengthen their experience regarding doing business with you. I like to ask something I have heard called “Stop, Start. Keep”. Ask clients what they would like to see Stop in their business interactions with you – it could be too much paperwork, a hard to navigate a website, etc. Ask them what they would like to see Start – it could have a sales meeting with their rep at minimum every 30 days vs 60 days or faster delivery time. Lastly, ask them what they would like to see Kept – this is a good benchmark to collect commonalities between clients and work hard at keeping what is “not broken” the goal. You will be able to maintain awesome client relationships – while increasing business and insulating them as a long term loyal client because you took the time to ask.