9 Key Areas of Improvement for Employees

Are you aware the strengths and weaknesses of your employees? The team you’ve hired can make or break your business. It’s important to understand how the right training and development can boost your employee’s work performance and enhance their happiness at work. Here are areas of improvement to work on with your team.

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1. Time Management

Working for a busy small business can be overwhelming if you’re working with a budget and have limited staff on hand. Your employees may be juggling several roles and responsibilities, and that takes some serious time management.

Luckily, there are easy strategies to help your employees improve job specific time management skills and increase productivity. Here are 5 tips to help you get started. For additional tips along with a full breakdown, read 9 Tips to Improve Time Management Skills.

  1. Build a realistic daily schedule for employees
  2. Teach prioritization
  3. Let your team members know it's OK to say "no" if overwhelmed
  4. Set deadlines
  5. Plan time to help your employees relax during the business day

Don’t be too heavy handed when working with employees on time management skills. Here are games you can play with your team to foster fun and increase time management skills: Time Management: 7 Workplace Group Activities.

2. Customer Service

It’s safe to say that providing the best customer service experience possible should be a top priority for every business. From a billion-dollar corporation to a small mom and pop shop, consumers spending their hard-earned money expect good customer service. Customers make a mental note time they interact with your company. Whether it’s asking a question on social media, interacting with an employee, returning a product or disputing a service, they are testing out your customer service policy. Teach employees how to be swiftly responsive and engaged. This important topic is covered extensively on the SmartBiz Small Business Blog. Review these 2 articles to learn how to teach your employees the skills they need to successfully interact with your happy – and unhappy – customers.

3. Performance Objectives

Depending on your team's business structure, key performance objectives are used to measure how well they're performing. Four performance objectives each employee should strive for are quality, speed, dependability, and flexibility. Make sure these goals are discussed in every employee’s onboarding process. This article has steps you can take to improve in each area.
9 Effective Ways to Improve Employee Performance.

4. Teamwork

It’s safe to say that if your employees aren’t able to come together effectively as a team, work performance will suffer. Encourage each member of your staff to share their ideas when working on a project and respect everyone's opinions. Communication and teamwork create a sense of community around the office. Here are steps you can take to encourage an environment that supports teamwork: Four Ways to Promote Synergy Between Your Employees.

5. Interpersonal communications

Interpersonal communication is how people exchange thoughts and ideas. To measure interpersonal communication skills, look at the words used, the tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language. When your employees have effective interpersonal communication, your business activities will go smoother and teamwork will be valued. Examples of good interpersonal skills include active listening, motivation, and being patient.

6. Writing

Emails, newsletters, customer service responses, internal communications, social media posts – all of these business activities require good writing skills. Do your employees have the writing chops they need to effectively communicate internally and externally? There are steps you can take to strengthen the writing skills of your team. These include:

  • Training and mentoring employees yourself
  • Hiring a business writing expert for in-house one-on-one or group training sessions
  • Pay for employees to take an online class or a community college course

It’s a good idea to include a writing exercise when screening potential employees for professional development skills.

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7. Listening

Effective listening can be harder than it sounds and is an important element of small business employee development. Talk with your staff about these 3 different kinds of listeners and encourage them to work on their skills in this area:

  • Over-Listener: The over-listener attempts to act on advice before considering all of the details. Encourage your employees to carefully consider what they’ve learned by listening.
  • Under-Listener: Under-listeners can be stubborn and won’t heed valuable advice even if things are going downhill.
  • Active-Listener: Active listeners engage in feedback, ask good questions, and know when to discount advice that isn’t helpful. An active-listener can identify and act on valuable input.

8. Goal setting

It’s no secret that high achievers set goals. Setting smart goals in the right way can lead to vision and motivation. When you take steps to reach a goal, you’ll be able to focus on what you need to learn, organize your time, and use resources to meet those goals. Work together with your employees to set short-term and long-term goals. Use active listening to make sure the goals are attainable and reward employees when they meet them.

9. Focus & engagement

There are a great many ways a business owner can encourage employee engagement. Put the following steps into action:

  • Introduce an open-door policy
  • Reward and recognize accomplishments
  • Promote a flexible atmosphere
  • Check-in regularly and reward achievements
  • Listen and communicate

How to talk with your employee about improvements

Talk about strengths first

Start with the positive. If you immediately bring up the negative, you might get pushback from the employee or they’ll tune you out. Let your employee know that you appreciate their work and point out the projects they’ve successfully completed or day-to-day activities they perform well.

Discuss reasons for improvement

For each improvement you’d like to see, outline why the improvement needs to happen. This could be enhancing performance, moving up in the company, working better with others, etc.

Set goals and prioritize

Having solid goals encourages employees to do their best. SMART is an acronym to help you set goals. The business goals you set should be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Based

A good time to discuss goals is during regular performance reviews.

Revisit goals

Employee reviews are an extremely important step when you’re focusing on employee improvement. Performance reviews offer you the chance to let employees know what they need to improve on. A one-on-one review also helps the employee feel valued and opens a healthy communication channel. Allowing six months between performance reviews provides enough time for the employee to take actions on the areas of improvement identified in the last review. It’s also important to have an open door policy - let employees know that they can come to you with issues or questions whenever they like, especially as it pertains to goals set. When you meet with your employee to about their goals, be positive and organized. If goals aren’t being met adequately, work together on a solution. Your employee might feel overwhelmed or is missing the tools needed to perform at a high level. Give them the opportunity to speak.

Final thoughts

It’s a good idea to understand your own management style so you can communicate better with your workers. You might find that tweaking your own performance will help you approach employees in an appropriate manner. Review this article to determine your style and how you relate to others: 14 Different Types of Management Styles Explained.

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