You’ve been asking us for tips on best ways to deal with staff. We recruited training supremo Helena Cotter to deliver some sound advice with six pearls of wisdom
Avoid blurring the professional and the personal when running your business
It’s a hard ask to be a leader and a friend, isn’t it? As with your customers, you should always avoid extreme crossing over of the two; neither too bossy a boss, nor best friends.
Of course, being friendly and approachable is a given. Learning about your staff to help them be the best they can be is a necessity.
Always be there to guide and support them. Be a good listener – it will serve you well in the future and enable you to work together as a tight, lean, team. When you cross over the line between leader and friend, you will change the dynamic which can then lead to conflict.
Create healthy, clear boundaries
It is not fair if staff do not know what is expected of them and what they can expect from you. Always give anyone who works for you – be it full- or part-time, high days or holidays, job descriptions and a comprehensive procedures manual.
This may sound long-winded and time-consuming, but while not a UK legal requirement, job descriptions and manuals are nevertheless vital. How much time do you spend going over and over the same things; repeating yourself? A lot, I bet! It is important to list job/duties and areas of responsibility. It creates clarity and minimises miscommunication, repetition and misinterpretation. A procedures manual will help you keep everything concise.
It also alleviates you having to be on call to answer questions or queries that are well within the remit of your staff to answer or deal with.
Contracts of employment most certainly are a UK legal requirement. The contract needs to have the terms and conditions of employment and include a written set of particulars (brief job description), which must be given to an employee within eight weeks of commencing employment.
Click here to read more about the UK Government’s guide to contracts.
Create structure so there are no grey areas
Keep your message consistent from the start. Communication is one of the keys to successful leadership and it can be overlooked when running a busy retail shop.
As a staff member, there is nothing worse than being told one thing one day, only for it to change the next. When you do change anything, tell everyone and make sure you stick to it.
Don’t rely on other people to deliver the message for you in your absence. They may get it wrong, misconstrue the core information, or forget because they are too busy!
Establish values and beliefs for your business
All staff should be aware of how you want your business run in terms of standards, and these things might well include the following:
- Open communication style of leadership
- Smart appearance; the smarter, the better
- Work ethic
- Company ethos
- Customer service and care levels matched and delivered
- Levels of expected professionalism throughout
Often when there are problems with staff and a business, it is down to weak leadership. Staff are looking to you to lead. They will mirror your leadership levels and demonstrate them on the shop floor, good or bad.
Ultimately, all decisions must be yours as the business owner. That doesn’t mean there cannot be feedback from your staff; feedback should be encouraged. Your staff are at the coalface so to speak, so they are often the source of fantastic ideas and suggestions.
When you work in a small team where every member of staff is a vital cog in your business wheel, it can be hard to lead.
Create an open-door leadership style where you are approachable and firm but fair with healthy boundaries. Empathy and compassion are needed to be a good leader, but avoid becoming too entangled and keep your sensitivities in check.
Where you are paying staff to manage and run your business for you, let them do their job properly. Organise regular meetings to iron out any issues early on.
Pitch it right from the start in terms of leader/friend, so you don’t have to back-pedal. And remember, you should always put your staff first, not your customers. Why? Because happy staff equals happy customers.
+44 (0) 1582 451238 | email@example.com | helenacotter.co.uk
We here at Wedding Trader are interested in your own business ethos or mantra, or a personal opinion – especially if you have an angle on your approach to staff. What are your dos and don’ts when it comes to your team? Share your thoughts – email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.