September 23, 2019 By SmartBiz Team

If you’ve hired employees to help expand your business operations, you probably know about the additional responsibilities of managing a team. The success of your small business now depends on the whole team’s performance, not just your own. Knowing how to boost your employees’ potential is another skill to master as a small business owner. Here are best practices that can get you on the right track.

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1. Listen to feedback

Being open to suggestions means that you’re willing to work toward a solution together. If you’re not aware of the concerns and expectations employees have, the plans you decide to implement might just add fuel to the fire. Once you discover the underlying issue, it could turn out to be a quick fix. You’ll never know unless you’re transparent, open to recommendations, and willing to make a change.

From the traditional suggestion box to employee surveys to specialized software, there are plenty of methods to collect feedback—it’s up to you to decide which system works best for you. Have you established an open door policy? Do you schedule regular one-on-one meetings with your employees? Try out different options until you find one that works best for your organization.

2. Schedule regular performance reviews

Performance appraisals are a great way to synch up with your employees and get an understanding of where they stand. Not only will you be able to gather feedback and address outstanding suggestions, but you’ll have a chance to share how daily tasks stack up against overarching goals. Setting time aside to reflect and evaluate performance together will help you ensure that you and your employees are working toward the same end.

3. Individualize your approach

A single leadership strategy won’t work for everyone. That’s why you, as the team leader, should take time to understand your employees’ expectations and preferences, and tailor your approaches toward their unique needs. Some might thrive in an environment where clear, straightforward communication prevails. Others might look for a bit more individual attention, especially at the start of a new project.

At the end of the day, your leadership should serve to empower your team and develop strengths rather than to get caught up in the negatives.

4. Set clear goals

To measure performance, you’ll need to define expectations so that you and your employees are on the same page. Your high-level goals can be broken down into more manageable timeframes, whether that be quarters, months, or even weeks. Either way, communicate what you’re looking for and get an understanding of their perspectives too. If you can both express your key objectives in simple terms, you’re probably on the right track.

Head to Forbes to read what SmartBiz CEO Evan Singer recommends when it comes to long-term strategic planning for your business.

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5. Clarify the areas for improvement

It can be uncomfortable pointing out the problem areas, but in your conversations with your employees, focus on specifying exactly what they can do to make a positive change. Instead of spending time on the negatives, create a plan with actionable steps so that the team member is empowered to do better in their work.

This means providing access to resources, tools, and guidance wherever necessary to make completing work easier. You might be surprised to find that even minor roadblocks, like extra steps, can have a significant impact on progress at the end of the day.

Working through challenges within your company? Knowing how to manage them effectively can help you maintain your reputation and ease any feelings of discomfort or frustration on your team, which means a more productive environment.

Here are our tips for dealing with difficult employees.

6. Reward progress

Incentivizing career advancement is more than just the occasional gift card or latte—it’s about genuine interest in professional development, words of support, and invaluable insights. The outstanding achievements should be recognized and rewarded, but make sure not to create an overly competitive environment in the workplace. This means setting time aside to show your appreciation for everyone on your team.

For our top employee recognition ideas, visit the SmartBiz Small Business Blog. From team events to website features and everything in between, we’ve got you covered with plenty of helpful recommendations.

7. Invest in professional development

Are your employees just completing their work, or are they developing their skills and achieving their goals? As a leader, you should be looking at the long term too, not just at the tasks you have coming up now. When you check in, make sure you’re getting an understanding of overall development as well as specific, task-based progress. How can you help your employees reach their full potential within your company? Opening communication channels can help you identify the areas where you can provide support, mentorship, or education.

8. Help develop priorities

No matter how big your team is, everyone should be on the same page with you when it comes to your business vision and game plan. If they are, their priorities will align with yours, which means that they’ll be focusing on the projects that have the strongest impact on overall success.

Helping your employees understand how they play a role in the business vision can motivate them to perform at the top of their game.

9. Use the right tools and technology

Technology is key for the modern small business. If your employees are based in different locations, you can create seamless communication channels with the right software. Tracking HR and payroll is also easy using a digital solution. Here are our top picks. Instead of relying on the classic pen and paper method, you can centralize all your processes in one place. And when the time comes to onboard a new hire, you’ll thank yourself later.

Not sure where to start? It can help to do a rundown of all the tools you currently use for organization and employee management. Does your whole team have access to a shared calendar where they can stay in the loop on upcoming events and meetings? Can your payroll processes be simplified with one solution? Can your team communicate easily and efficiently about important tasks? If you see room for improvement, check out our recommendations for the best business apps on the market.

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