It doesn’t matter if you have 10 employees or 1000, staying connected is incredibly important. And it’s something that goes both ways; you need to be able to know what is going on with them and be able to approach them, and they need to be able to do the same things to you. Lack of communication can cause so many setbacks when it comes to executing a new project plan. Plus how do you expect to gain respect and loyalty if you don’t take the time and put in the effort to be available to all of your employees, no matter their ranking in the company.
Your employees are the lifeblood of your company, they are the sole thing keeping it adrift. One might be replaceable, but if they all suddenly left? Your business would be over. You will find, and easily see, that the best companies to work for are some of the more successful ones, and that’s because their employees are loyal and work harder for an employer that treats them right and takes the time to stay connected.
On an operational level, staying connected with your employees is just good sense – you are able to deal with any issues early on and can check in on projects as they develop. Your business is not only supporting you financially, but it also supports the finances of your employees, it’s in everyone’s best interests to keep performing well. However, if the business loses money, it’s you who loses their pay slip first, and if it fails, you have the most to learn. Which is why you need to stay connected to the work your employees are doing, so see the progress, to offer ideas and support as and when needed – but not to micromanage. Remember that you hired these people for a reason – they can do the job well, you’re just staying in the loop.
Informal chat group
For smaller businesses or for branches of a larger company, it’s nice to have an informal chat group. In retail and shift work, a group chat is great for relaying information that was missed during a handover, for the person in the next day, shift changes and any important information that can’t wait until you’re altogether. It also gives staff the chance to find cover for a shift in preparation to requesting the change – that way a contingency plan is in place just waiting for approval.
Content management software
Using content management software in your business, is a more formal and technical way of keeping everything connected. Rather than focusing purely on conversation, software like things links work and projects, allowing everyone to access what they need when they need it, and for you to easily check in on everyone’s progress and remotely offer ideas and pointers.
Having a weekly or monthly staff meeting is a huge contributor to keeping those communication avenues open. Not only does it give you a chance to relay any important changes and new agendas, it also gives you chance to talk to your employees and, more importantly, let them have a chance to talk to you and put forward their ideas on different things. Giving your employees the chance to pitch new ideas can be a great way of showing them that you trust them an believe in their work – but you can’t let them pitch the idea and never take any of them on board. You also don’t need to take anything that you don’t think will work – at the end of the day it’s your business, so you get to decide which direction the company will take. But some of those ideas might be worth looking into – the minds creating them, after all, were one’s you chose to hire and place in certain positions to best benefit your company.
A HR ladder
Do your employees feel like they can come straight to you with a problem? In some business settings and in larger companies, do you want them to come straight to you? Starting a HR ladder might begin with you as the first rung, but as your business grows so will that ladder – beginning with a HR manager and then with two or three different levels, regional HR managers and so on. But no matter who is that first point of calls is, your employees need to always feel like they can talk to them, and that you will be personally involved in any issues that call for such measures. You can also look into an app like Bamboo HR, particularly in the early years of your business. This allows you to manage requests and complaints easily and remotely, so that your employees know that what they need to say has been heard.
As the boss, your employees will always want to show you their best face, and not the version of them that goes out on a Saturday night. And where there is no problem with them doing that and enjoying life, but there are things that you need to be aware of what goes on online. Like anyone talking badly about the company or going directly against company values and policy. You need to stay away from being involved in everyone’s personal lives, but you also need to avoid creating too much distance and not seeing problems arising, and also to avoid seeming too far above everyone else. Yes you are their boss, but to be seen as approachable you need to be available. Your HR manager will deal with the social media side of things, but if your employees feel like they can come to you, or to their line manager with issues they have, hopefully it can be dealt with before it goes online.
Always encourage work outings and activities – like a Christmas meal, or funds for a leaving party. Keeping connected in business isn’t just about you, it’s also about your employees connecting and helping each other. The team bond that your employees have directly reflects in their work – so make sure that they have every opportunity to build those bonds and grow together as a team.
You don’t have to be hanging on to every word in a group chat, or go out of your way to know about everyone’s personal lives, but you do need to be there for your employees. The bigger your business is, the harder it can be to be there for the little guy, so you need to make sure that your business always has a clear progression of line managers and HR people to help deal with each person’s problems or requests, no matter how big or how small they may be.