Good employees need strong leaders, but what happens when we think we are doing well and our employees think otherwise?
Growth as business owners is important, and often one of the best sources for feedback on our progress as entrepreneurs is our employees. They are the ones who see our work day-in and day-out; they are the ones working through the processes set up for them; they are the ones with whom we have direct contact and can receive quick responses on what works in our business. Our employees are our front line, and we should use them to our greatest advantage when it comes to self-reflection.
Consider checking in with employees regularly to gauge how well your business is functioning and how you could assist company performance. Consistent communication is key! These check-in opportunities can come from a multitude of outlets– regular employee reviews, project meetings, and even just touching-base every day. Check-ins should range from serious reviews such as periodic sit-down sessions to the casually and extemporaneously offered, “how are things going?” and “how can I make things better?” in virtual meetings, emails, or around the office. Showing support towards employees is simple if you can offer genuine listening and assistance.
So, what else should we be asking our employees to ensure we are leading them well?
Ask about communication. Ask employees if they feel as if they are being adequately contacted. Are they getting enough support or do they feel micromanaged? Do they know the company’s day-to-day vision and goals or are they left in the dark? Leaders should strive to have an open flow of communication between themselves and their employees so that everyone knows their role and can see a clear line of organization in the company.
Ask about client services. Make sure that interactions are going smoothly between clients and service providers. Not only should leaders be monitoring feedback that customers may give about their experience with a business, but employees should also be consulted. It is important that the employees understand their roles as service providers, and those on the front line of your business making one-on-one contact with clients are the ones who have firsthand observed the service and will be able to comment on its effectiveness to a point. Establishing an open relationship with employees that allows them to observe and remark on processes allows them to feel active in the company and as if they matter. Simply taking suggestions builds a bond between employees and leaders.
Ask about internal processes. Implementing a new system into daily practices? Need feedback about onboarding and its success? Often employees will have some insight to whether daily processes are working and be able to suggest any fixes to alleviate the hiccups in regular procedures. Value employees for what they are: a great resource for understanding your business down to the basics. Of course, you’re always the guide who can explain exactly why your business might do or use something specifically, but good leaders often can learn a great deal from their employees.
Ask about their experiences. This question could take form in those small daily check-ins in passing or during their periodic formal reviews, but asking employees about their experiences with your company will help gauge whether they need anything that isn’t obvious. Ask them if they’re feeling alright. Is their workload manageable? Do they feel challenged? Do they feel appreciated? What can you do to help them find their purpose, value, or path toward growth? Employees that reflect on what they need and can speak to what their leaders can do to assist are stronger, and making an effort to bridge the gap between what employees need and have will help leaders understand their employees and company better.
Communicating with employees can clear up a lot of confusion, and with the information gained from casual or formal meetings with their workers, entrepreneurs can make progress toward bettering their business and growing as a leader. Leaders should often reflect on their performance, and simply asking employees about the state of business communication, client services, internal processes, and their own experiences can project the company toward success. Ask employees for their perspective and work toward a better business.