Be transparent. Be straight
“I’ll say straight up that you know you’ve let us down and it’s affecting the team. 30% clean up their act, and 70% leave.”
- Steven Cohen
- Head of Sage One International
- Oversees Africa, Australia, Middle East, Asia and Brazil
“We’re transparent about our profits with the whole company. Our monthly meetings include the entire company, and are used to show turnover figures. We break this down to our profit level.
“Everyone understands that we need to meet targets set by Sage, but it’s also very empowering for them to know how they’re contributing to our profits. It gets everyone engaged, and they can see if their department or team is meeting or exceeding budget targets. If something dips, everyone wants to interrogate why. The more transparent you are, the more engaged your employees will be.
“Transparency is important at a personal level too. I’m honest, I’m one of the guys and I often have after-work drinks with my teams, but if you let me down you’ll know it. Ethics and attitude are the only career-limiting issues in the company. People with great attitudes will learn the job, so we hire based on attitude, particularly our managers, because culture flows down. If you consistently let me down, I’ll take you out for coffee and have an honest chat. I’ll say straight up that you know you’ve let us down and it’s affecting the team. 30% clean up their act, and 70% leave.”
Read more: Learning Along the Way
Even the best people can use re-training
“When you’re offering a premium service, the customer must always be your number-one priority. We hire our technicians for their skills, but they often come from a network background where saving money comes first, the customer second. It’s the opposite here, so we have to retrain them to continue doing their jobs well, but put the customer first.”
- Alex Fourie is the founder of nation-wide out-of-warrantee smart-device-repair company, weFix.
- The company has enjoyed triple-digit growth since launching in 2007.
When you’re in the services industry, your customer is king. Alex Fourie knows this especially well – in fact, he hires his store managers from the hospitality industry.
Why? Because hospitality managers work well under pressure, are excellent when it comes to client service, and also manage staff well. Similarly, it’s important that everyone in your business, lives and breathes your company culture and delivers on your promise to customers.
In this case, Fourie’s technicians are hired for skill, and then thoroughly re-trained on putting customers above cost.
Read more: Can staff training increase my turnover?
Know your culture. Be consistent
“I’m an autocratic leader. I tell everyone how things are going to happen, and they make them work. I’d go so far as to say that I even rule by fear, but I’m consistent.”
- Albe Geldenhuys is the founder of USN, manufacturers of sports and nutrition supplements.
“I’m an autocratic leader. I tell everyone how things are going to happen, and they make them work. I’d go so far as to say that I even rule by fear a bit, but I’m consistent, and my team listens to what I say. This was the company culture that I created. However, as we grew, our back-end couldn’t keep up with our sales. I needed to focus on that. I also wanted to focus on product development, advertising and sales. I didn’t want to be MD as well, and so I promoted one of my managers, a lawyer who was excellent at the details, to be MD. The move caused problems I just hadn’t foreseen.
“For many, the shift in leadership style was just too much. Where I had been a firm task master, the new MD was a mild-mannered, diplomatic accountant, trying to operate within a framework that I had created. The company culture didn’t know how to adjust. We ended up losing some great people as a result. People need consistency, and to know exactly what the company culture is.”
Read more: Does Your Staff Dislike You?
Put your energy into great employees, not the bad apples
“Give your top employees more and more responsibility. It takes trust, and they won’t always get it right, but they will learn, and, if you’ve judged them correctly, they’ll fly.”
- Antonio Iozzo is the founder of Insurance Underwriting Managers (IUM)
- IUM is a R350 million business he built from R10 000 seed capital
Antonio Iozzo works on a simple system with his staff, based on what he calls A, B and C employees. ‘A’ employees are extremely good at what they do, they work hard, and they’re rewarded for it. The more responsibility I give them, the more they thrive.
‘B’ employees are the worker bees. They come in every day, do their jobs and can be relied on. They’re essential to the business.
“’C’ employees are the bad apples, and, when we spot them, we get rid of them as quickly as we can. It’s not because they’re necessarily lazy or inept; more often than not it’s because of their attitudes. They don’t take responsibility for their own happiness or success, but instead blame their managers, colleagues and the business for their failures. They’re incessant complainers. C employees can turn Bs into other Cs quicker than you can blink, and you can’t fix them. Don’t waste your energy on Cs. Get rid of them. You should be spending your time on As and Bs – they’re the foundation of your success.”
Read more: Want to Lead Your Staff? Serve Your People
Encourage healthy, heated debate
“The rule is simple: You can challenge anyone, at any time, but you must play the ball, not the man. It’s not allowed to get personal.”
- Ran Neu-Ner and Gil Oved are the founders of The Creative Counsel
- The company is SA’s largest advertising agency with a turnover of R700 million.
“We really believe in a sense of competition, and healthy, heated debate is part of this. It’s bred into our backgrounds. You respect your parents, but if you disagree with something they’ve said or decreed, that’s where the negotiation begins. You need to find the angle to get your way.
“It follows that the more and harder you debate something, the better. You chip the block away from all angles, and you’ll find the best answer and a better result. As business partners, we might not always agree with each other, but we’ve always had the same intent: What’s best for the business?
“And this filters down to the whole company, from managers to new employees. Anyone can challenge anyone, as long as it’s not personal and logic prevails.
“We end up with juniors who think they have a right to challenge us – and they do. If Ran tells a junior copywriter his idea is bad, he can (and will) fight for it. On one memorable occasion, a junior copywriter actually came back six times to defend his idea, until he finally won the debate.”
Read more: 4 Steps to Hiring Killer Sales Staff
Lead by example
“The most important job description that I have is managing people.”
- Colin Thornton is the co-founder and CEO of Dial a Nerd.
“Customer service is our entire business. If we relax, this starts slipping, so I keep a constant watch over how we are delivering on our mandate and receive monthly reports on client interactions. I am also very conscious of the fact that I need to lead by example.
“If a client wants to speak directly to me, I make sure I’m available. One of the things that has always driven me nuts is companies whose MDs are inaccessible. You have a problem and you’re passed from manager to manager and never feel as if your issue is being addressed or taken seriously.
“This isn’t the business we want to be. Our differentiator is service, and I can’t insist on that with our managers and technicians if I’m not willing to follow suit with my own time.”
Read more: How To Keep Your Staff
KPIs drive growth
“We first create a detailed job description for each employee in the company, from the CEO to the receptionist — everyone has their own KPIs.”
- Paul Veltman is the founder of Velti Events.
Paul Veltman is all about giving his employees a reason to not be average.
Paul Veltman is all about giving his employees a reason to not be average. “We wanted to create key performance indicators for each employee that aligned their five-year goals with the company’s growth. These needed to work for everyone, but they also needed to offer enough of an incentive for employees to embrace. It’s hard work, for them and us, but it means a bigger pay cheque (or additional time off) for them, and top-class staff for us, which ultimately means satisfied and loyal customers.
“We first create a detailed job description for each employee in the company, from the CEO to the receptionist — everyone has their own KPIs. It’s important to state exactly what they do so that we can rate each element accurately. In an SME with ambitious go-getters these need to be updated quarterly as job descriptions are constantly evolving. We then do monthly, quarterly and yearly reviews that are driven by the employees themselves.”
“They take us through their performance and how they rate themselves, which keeps them actively involved in their progress. It’s time consuming, but the results — improved performance and client satisfaction — make the system worth it.”
Read more: Ubertech Meets Ubergeek: Stafford Masie isn’t Just Changing the Rules… He’s Changing the Game
Pick your people carefully
“The key factor in making flexi-time work is to hire the right people. Our agents are self-starters, have outstanding work ethic, and are over-achievers, which means there’s no need for micro-managing or monitoring.”
- Nicole Stephens is the co-founder of The Recruitment Specialist (TRS).
- The company was founded in 2010, has two agents and two founders, all of whom work in a decentralised manner across two countries.
- They’ve been profitable from day one.
Flexi-time is the way of the future, and many studies show that employees with more freedom and flexibility with their work hours are much more productive than their nine-to-five counterparts. But many companies are anxious about letting go of control.
The answer is just like Nicole Stephens suggests: It’s about hiring the right kind of person rather than retro-fitting non-flexi-time employees and learning the hard way that they’re not cut out for it.
Flexi-time staff need the above-mentioned qualities, and without them, you could have trouble.
Read more: Should You Hire a Motivational Speaker to Motivate Staff?
Finding affordable talent
“We found an international company that placed volunteer interns in your business for a few months.”
- Mike Silver is the founder and MD of Stretch Experiential Marketing.
“As a start-up, employees are a bit of a chicken-and-egg situation. If you employ a team too early, you don’t have the cash flow to pay their salaries, but if you don’t deliver well on jobs because you don’t have support staff, you’ll lose repeat business. My solution was to find affordable talent. We did this in two ways. First, we found an international company that placed volunteer interns in your business for a few months.
“They’re here to discover South Africa and get some work experience, but because they’re on holiday visas they can’t be paid, so your only expense is to the agency they’re sourced through. It was a mixed bag of talent. We had about 30 students working over a five-year period, some being incredible, others barely speaking English.
“For my permanent employees, we targeted kids who were looking for their first jobs and didn’t have high expenses and responsibilities.
“We’d ask them the absolute minimum they could accept, and in exchange they’d receive what we call ‘glamour tax,’ which is basically a cool working environment where they’d have fun, meet people, spend time at events and be exposed to great brands.”
Read more: How Mike Silver Became The Next Best Brand And Marketing Guy
Encourage employee growth
“Great employees take responsibility and build themselves and the business with it.”
- Amy Kleinhans-Curd is one of the country’s most famous Miss South Africa winners.
- Today, she’s better known for her role as co-founder and director of the PLP Group.
“Understanding myself and my limits and strengths isn’t only important for my own development, but that of my employees as well. To be truly productive as a business owner, you need to know when to let things go. I’ll gladly let someone else run with an idea and make a success of it.
“It’s my job to come up with those ideas and conceptualise where we are, where we should be, and how we’re going to get there, but I have a great team who then takes care of the operational side of actually making things happen. If it’s something I love and I’m good at, I’ll run with it, but first, I take a step back and critically evaluate if I’m the best person for that particular project. If the answer is no, I hand it over. It’s as simple as that.
“We’ve built an incredible team over the years, and everyone has their own passions and strengths. It’s important to play to those strengths; pick the best person for each job, and remember that just because it’s your company doesn’t mean it’s always you.
“It then becomes my role to delegate, and then stay in touch through regular updates. I’m not saying hand something over and walk away – that’s also counter-productive. But you don’t need ownership of everything. Great employees take responsibility and build themselves and the business with it.”
Read more: Amy Kleinhans-Curd on Lifelong Entrepreneurship
Maximising info in minimal time
“To manage teams we’ve got a report back system called ‘15-5’. It takes 15 minutes to write and five minutes to read, and each contains a manager’s top five priorities for a week or month, and their one absolute top priority. The report details what they’re working on, stuck on, or been successful with.”
- Yossi Hasson is the co-founder of Synaq, a company listed as one of Forbes’ Top 20 Tech Start-ups for 2012.
- In 2011, Dimension Data bought a 50,1% stake in the business.
Time is a commodity that’s not to be squandered, especially when your skills are required at higher levels of business such as strategising, and Yossi Hasson knows that.
Every Monday he’s able take 20 minutes to get a full grasp on what his four managers are handling for the week, and his managers know what their teams are up to.
He’s then able to make decisions, direct, and have follow up conversations where needed without requiring lengthy meetings.
Read more: As An Entrepreneur, Be A Motivational Leader To Your Staff
How To Listen To Your Employees Better So You Can Improve Your Business
Create ‘Hero relationships’ with your workers so you foster a team environment that helps fix mistakes and makes your business stronger.
Years ago, I was in a business where we were shipping product constantly to get things out on time: “Get the stuff out the door so we can make revenue and meet our quotas now.” With our Operational Excellence seemingly hanging in the balance, we did what we were told.
We forgot about our dedication to quality and our promise to do the best for our customers. We also forgot about what it was doing to our people, from the top of the organisation to the floor. Concerns about what was going on were acknowledged, but never pursued. Head down, pedal to the metal, nothing to see here.
We’ve all lost our way like this at some point. The question is, does anyone have the courage to speak up, and will anyone listen before it brings the culture and the company down? Our company culture had been good up to this point. We were a “Good Co.” But no one was listening to our people anymore. We were now “Bottom Liners,” and if we kept going, we would soon be sliding toward “Zero.”
Then we had a company meeting with the CEO, and I watched as the senior leaders turned on their people and told the CEO what they thought he wanted to hear. They spoke about how great things were going and how everyone was stepping up. That’s when one of our people – an hourly worker – had the courage to speak up. He said things weren’t great — that we were breaking our brand promise and cheating our customers:
“We’re not doing the right things, and we might be putting a product out that’s not quite ready or not checked for quality in packaging and shipping. Is that OK if I raise my hand and say, ‘No, that’s not acceptable’?”
Related: The Value Of Employee Growth
The senior leaders were shocked, and I wondered what the CEO was going to say. He had to be surprised, given this was the first he had heard of this. I wondered: Would he be willing to listen, really listen to what this person had to say? “Absolutely, that’s OK,” our CEO said, looking around the room at everyone but focusing hard on the leaders. “Does that mean we’re going to lose revenue and make customers unhappy short term? Yes. But we’re going to fix this. And in the end, we’ll get a better customer for any we lose, because we did the right thing.”
Our CEO was right. The company took a hit but recovered within the year to achieve record revenue and profits. And what if we hadn’t recovered? Well, at least it wouldn’t be because we failed to do the right thing and listened.
What can you do to listen? Start by doing what that hourly worker had the guts to do:
Speak up and ask questions. Get your butt out of your chair, walk over to a desk, and ask a question to someone’s face.
Not a demand, like, “Where’s the report I asked for?” or a yes/ no question. One that opens people up and requires a thoughtful answer – the more personal and less work-driven, the better. Anything that shows you care about their well-being. Maybe try to find out one thing you don’t know about them:
- What did you do this weekend?
- Who’s that in the picture on your desk?
- Where do you like to eat dinner when you go out?
Then listen to the answer and ask at least two more follow-up questions before saying anything about you. This is what’s called “active listening.” But it only works if you stop thinking about yourself and genuinely care about others – and let them ask questions of you, too.
A big part of listening is asking questions to understand. You want your people to do that, so you need to model this behaviour, which is why I’m always happy for my people to ask good, thoughtful questions when we launch a new program so they can execute better.
Related: Dealing With Employee Misconduct
The more you do that, the more you not only show your people you care but also connect and begin to form real relationships with them. When an employee feels that connection, it makes them want to work harder to serve you and deliver better results. By listening to others, you also learn to put yourself in the other person’s shoes to ask bigger and more important questions, like:
- What does this potential customer want?
- How can I help my boss do more?
- What is the other party in our joint venture or partnership trying to accomplish?
Of course, questioning can cross a line. Leaders can never tolerate questions designed to undermine authority, prove what they don’t know, or make excuses. I’m intolerant when my people keep questioning why the company is doing what we’re doing and attacking it, as if I didn’t consider all sides before making the decision. Any question like that sounds like it’s really saying, “Jeff, you know that makes you an idiot, right?” is the worst kind of entitlement: Thinking you know better.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
How To Make Your Team Feel Safe Bringing You Problems
Advertising an ‘open door’ isn’t enough.Team members need to truly believe that you’ll hear them out and take action.
Plenty of leaders say they offer an “open door policy” to encourage employees to bring them problems or concerns. Many of these leaders also ask that employees voicing concerns come prepared with solutions in order to take responsibility for the problem rather than just “dump” or “vent.”
But employees in those scenarios may get the idea that it’s unacceptable to raise problems in the business if they don’t know how to fix them. In fact, in a study of a phenomenon they dubbed “employee silence,” professors from New York University’s Stern School of Business demonstrated that 85 percent of their respondents felt they couldn’t raise important issues to their management at all.
Is this happening at your company? If you’re not regularly hearing about your team members’ challenges and frustrations, you can’t conclude that all is well: In fact, you might be missing out on vital information that could help you make crucial decisions about your business. You might also end up losing employees who would otherwise be able to make significant contributions.
The good news is that there are ways to reduce these risks. Try the following techniques to encourage employees to speak their minds and feel confident that you’ll take their comments into account.
Tell them why you need to hear from them as a matter of business
Emphasise that your openness isn’t because you’re nice or merely want to placate them. Instead, explain that you recognise the downside of not understanding employees’ opinions or acknowledging the risks of having a disengaged workforce, i.e., high turnover.
Research backs up this concern: A Harvard Business Review study by James R. Detert and Ethan R. Burris found that”
“When employees can voice their concerns freely, organisations see increased retention and stronger performance.”
Teach employees to use code words
These will signal to you when they’re coming in with an important matter and want you to hear them out. For example, many of my clients now tell one other to “put their seatbelts on” to signal that they need to have a tough conversation and want to cue the other party that it’s important to keep cool and maintain an open mind on the issue.
Research from Fierce Conversations and Quantum Workplace found that although about half of employees studied didn’t speak up regularly, the employees who always or almost always “speak their minds reported being more engaged at work than those who said they never or almost never did so.”
A mutually agreed-on process for ensuring attentiveness goes a long way toward helping employees speak up.
Go and seek them out
If you haven’t heard from crucial individuals for a while, or you suspect there’s an issue brewing no one has talked to you about, create the forum for a discussion yourself.
This doesn’t have to mean summoning people to your office. One of the CEOs I work with says, “I don’t know what I don’t know,” and periodically walks the floor, chatting with everyone and lingering longer and probing more deeply with influencers and opinion leaders to learn what’s really going on.
Show that you act on their input
Refer to times when you took someone’s opinion and were able to improve a situation. Be explicit, so that the participants and other employees can tell you mean it. You could say something like, “Once Sally told me what was going on, it got me thinking. So I reevaluated that supplier’s performance, and asked them to improve their level of service. Now we’ve got a better deal.”
Use a meeting and report structure
One of my clients was slow about taking action on employee concerns. As a result, her employees stopped informing her of problems altogether, and instead ratcheted up the conflict among themselves.
This outcome matched the findings of the Journal of Business Ethics study, When Employees Stop Talking and Start Fighting, whose authors wrote that:
“Negative consequences are particularly likely to occur when employees perceive the opportunity to voice opinions to be … given by managers who do not have the intention to actually consider employee input.”
To correct the problem, this leader started holding weekly meetings to ask employees what was new or bothersome and to make public lists of the issues that needed attention.
Create an advisory group or process
Another of my clients knew he wasn’t hearing enough candid feedback from his team. He created an advisory council that collected concerns from the entire group and met with the leader quarterly to share them. This felt less risky personally to the individual employees and helped create a consistent feedback loop.
Overall, employees may always have some nervousness about raising tough topics to their leaders. But if you take the time and trouble to make clear that you care about their feedback and intend to take it seriously, they’ll be much more likely to share their concerns and deepen their commitment to you and the company.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Reduce Turnover Of Hourly Workers With These 7 Tips
Employee turnover can be costly for businesses that rely on hourly workers.
Hourly workers play a significant role in today’s economy – from running operations at restaurants, to transporting goods from one place to another, to getting people to their destinations. Companies from Amazon, Uber and Instacart to local retail, food and logistics businesses are raising wages and offering better benefits in order to attract and retain hourly workers. At the same time, the demand for hourly workers has increased significantly, as the number of job openings in the United States has exceeded the number of job seekers.
At the same time, companies face the challenge of high turnover of hourly workers for their businesses. In a survey of 1,200 hourly workers by FSG and Hart Research Associates, the majority of respondents wanted to leave their current positions within less than 12 months. The average cost of a turnover in the company includes the cost of interviewing and screening, the cost of on-boarding, cost of training and lost productivity and engagement of current employees, which can be significant.
Therefore, it is important for business owners and entrepreneurs to recognise the importance of engaging hourly workers, to reduce turnover and to increase productivity. Therefore, in this publication, I hope to offer some tips to reduce the turnover of hourly workers for your business.
1. Start with a great onboarding process
Onboarding is a prime opportunity for employers to win the hearts and minds of new employees. It is important to have a well-structured onboarding process to provide employees with the information to succeed in their work, and to also integrate them into the culture of the company. The few weeks before employees start and after employees join is the best time to engage with new hourly workers, as they are most receptive to new structure, processes and ideas.
As an employer, it is important to come up with a well-structure onboarding process to share the values, mission and processes of the company and to ensure that each manager reinforces them. Hourly workers who experienced a robust onboarding process are more likely to stay with the company for a longer period of time and also exhibit higher productivity.
2. Offer professional development opportunities
Many hourly workers may only have finished high school or community colleges and are often eager to learn new skills, obtain new knowledge and broaden their horizons. One example is Starbucks’ College Achievement Plan, which was introduced in June 2014 in partnership with Arizona State University, to create an opportunity for all eligible employees in United States to earn their bachelor’s degree with full tuition covered.
On a smaller scale, local businesses can offer mentoring sessions with managers, or provide opportunities for hourly workers to go to community classes on sales, marketing or communication skills. They could also turn to online courses such as Coursera or Khan Academy, where employees will be able to access resources from leading universities at minimal or no cost.
3. Offer flexibility in work scheduling
With the growth of on-demand companies like Uber, DoorDash, Instacart and more, it has become increasingly important for companies to be able to offer the flexibility that the gig economy presents. Uber drivers are able to have complete flexibility in their schedule with a few clicks on the mobile app, and hence the trend has evolved that employees value their control over their time allocation. Therefore, business owners and entrepreneurs should adopt scheduling software to increase efficiency and allow employees to readily select the time slots that may best fit their weekly schedule, increasing loyalty and engagement.
4. Work toward inclusion, not just diversity
Hourly workers come from many different backgrounds and having a more inclusive work environment and hiring for a more diverse team will benefit the company significantly. In order to attract more talent and reduce turnover, it is important to work toward both inclusion and diversity to better engage hourly workers.
One of the leaders in this is Gap, which created a program called “This Way Ahead,” which helps younger workers who face employment challenges. Coming up with programs and career initiatives focused on a wider range of people is also an effective talent strategy for companies as different demographics of workers may have lower turnover rate, and hence be a better source of talent pipeline.
5. Communicate with your team by having periodic check-ins
It is important for managers and owners to have periodic check-ins with their employees of all levels and backgrounds. Hourly workers increasingly seek engagement and having a clear line of communication is essential. Many hourly workers are not satisfied with their work because they do not feel supported or recognised in their workplace. In a Randstad report, 27 percent of employees surveyed said that a lack of recognition is what causes they to leave the company. The more engaged workers are, the more committed they will, in turn reducing the turnover of hourly workers for companies.
6. Provide a clear path to progression and promotion
Local businesses should have an employee of the month in place to increase competition, to motivate employees and to reward the ones who excel. Hourly workers want to have a clear path to progression and promotion, and there should be a clear career road map. In the case of a restaurant, hourly workers should have the opportunity to progress from a server, to team lead, to manager and to other functions within the company.
Employers can further break down the different role hierarchies to allow more space for employees to progress in their work. Companies can also tie annual bonuses to the performance of employees, and incentive schemes like this can greatly motivate hourly workers.
High turnover for a business is detrimental and can significantly impact the morale, productivity and operations of any company. As the competition for good hourly workers increases, it has become ever more important for companies to focus on increasing engagement for their entry-level workers, to further motivate them and to reduce the turnover for workers. Companies need to take a more structured approach to communicating with entry-level workers, to better onboard them and to better reward them. Lower turnover will lead to a higher output for businesses, and benefits created from reducing turnover will surely outweigh the costs and resources allocated to it.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.