Small business advice for improving your people performance

Small business advice for improving your people performance

When you’re a leader of a small business it can be a challenge to have the time and resources to manage everything in the best possible way. After all, leaders wear many hats and it’s not easy to be all things to all people. Is it?

At POD HR & Training, we work alongside small businesses, providing guidance through the weird and wonderful territory of maximising employee performance.

Why is it weird and wonderful?

Because people are complex and often demanding. Not because they’re being difficult. Simply because they need you.

Your relationship with them, your attitude towards them, and the support you provide to them can either make or break your business success.

It’s truly wonderful to see the energy and commitment of a highly productive team. It can be confusing when it doesn’t quite work out like that!

You can feel like you’re giving so much and you’re left completely baffled as to why you’re not getting back what you need. I can help you with this. In fact, I answer questions on improving people performance every day!

Perhaps I’m wrong, but I bet at some point you’ve been frustrated with an employee for their actions or behaviours. It can be frustrating and hard when you’re trying to do everything and they won’t do what they’re supposed to be doing.

That’s why I’ve written this article. I want to provide small business advice for leaders that are stretched and working hard to grow their business and their people performance.

If you’d like free, actionable tips to make improvements and see the results on your bottom line, read on…

a group of employees working together in the meeting room

Why effective communication is paramount for small business management

When you’re running a small business, everything is focused around being cost effective. Including people processes.

As business owners, it’s safe to say you’ll always be striving for better results. Better turnover. Better profits. However, we need to keep costs low along the way to get maximum value from every investment.

I can tell you, and survey results will also tell you, communication has a significant impact on employee engagement and therefore how productive they are.

I’ve worked with leaders that have lost incredible employees through a lack of communication. It’s a deal-breaker.

Get it right, accuracy and productivity will sky rocket.

Get it wrong and that could spell the end of your company.

So why am I harping on about communication? Because it’s a FREE PROFIT GENERATOR!

It’s tricky to find free methods that add so much value. Communication is the best and most powerful way to make a difference without further financial outlay.

How to develop business communication skills

First of all, take time to establish what communication takes place and doesn’t take place. After you know this, you can identify which aspects require improvement.

When I work with businesses, I usually start with a health-check of their business communication. I look for the symptoms of bad communication. In particular, I look for these symptoms:

  • Mistakes are happening
  • Deadlines are being missed
  • Policies are not being upheld
  • Conflict is happening within departments or teams
  • People are under-performing
  • Complaints being received
  • Employee grievances
  • High levels of absence

You might be thinking that communication can’t be the only cause for these scenarios. I’m here to tell you that 95% of the time it can all be linked back to an instance of bad communication.

I can also tell you that communication can resolve 95% of them as well.

Below is a checklist I use for the communication ‘health-check’ I perform on businesses before I start work with them.

Department name Department name Department name
What information is needed?
How is that communication received?
When is it received?
From whom is it received?
How frequently?
Who are the key people with an interest and influence on the department?
What do all the key people need to keep informed about?
How can the relationships between key people be improved?
Is there a formal communication structure? Who knows it and follows it? What happens if it breaks down? Does everyone know what happens if it breaks down?
What’s in place to encourage every team member to communicate and express feelings, needs and ideas? What happens with that information?
How are challenges raised?
What’s in place to measure effectiveness of communication and make improvements?

Once you’ve figured out what’s happening throughout your business communication, you can identify areas of improvement and start making changes.

Here are some key focus areas to improve your business communication:

  1. Make sure everyone knows the importance of communication. Make it part of all reviews, inductions, interviews, and every people process.
  2. Give your employees feedback about communication and how it can be improved. Get specifics!

It’s not enough to say ‘I’d like you to work on your communication’. Let them know what you need, when you need it, how you’d like to be told about it, and why it’s important.

You should update your employees regularly on the business progress and where you’re heading. By continuously communicating about it you keep everyone moving in the same direction. Consider how much detail people need and DON’T MAKE ANY ASSUMPTIONS!

I’ve seen first-hand how assuming people know and understand things can lead to severe consequences.

You need to make sure you:

  1. Check what people know
  2. Summarise and recap
  3. Follow up

That’s one of the simplest ways to improve your communication.

It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how often it’s overlooked. When people are rushed and stretched thin, they don’t always think about every detail like this and tend to not consider their communication and impact.

There are so many branches to the tree of communication. I provide training on body language, conscious use of language, sensory language, influential communication, presentation skills, communication for leaders…the list goes on!

Before you can establish how to develop it further, you can get the basics right and understand what’s happening, or not happening, in your business now.

When I’ve helped businesses with coaching and worked with under-performing teams, I’ve come across people with bundles of passion and commitment. The only missing link was effective communication! This was costing thousands in wasted time and impacts on customer experience.

How can people be expected to succeed if they don’t know what success looks like?

You need to keep channels of communication continuously open so that your employees always know EXACTLY what you need and how to get there. The more you communicate with your people, the better the relationship is.

Your relationship with your employees has a direct impact on profit. According to recent research, businesses with a highly engaged workforce enjoy 19.2% higher operating profit.

Would you be prepared to work on improving your communication if it resulted in 19.2% growth?

As you can imagine, it’s the best thing you can do! It doesn’t cost you anything to start working on your communication. As you make improvements, you’ll be growing your business.

Effective communication increases team performance beyond a shadow of a doubt. Don’t take my word for it, see for yourself!

A good place to start is to ask all of your employees how communication in the business can be improved and what impact they think it will have. That way, they buy-in to any changes you want to make because they’ve been involved and they’ll be more committed to communication moving forwards.

Then you can watch your people performance improve!


And of course, if you have any questions feel free to send me an email on natalie@podhr.co.uk and I’ll be happy to answer anything or give you more advice.

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