Make Sure Your Employees Make the Connection

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It's important for employees to make the connection between their duties and your company's big financial picture.

Here are a couple of ways to help ensure that your staff members make that critical connection:

  • Ask each employee to write his or her own job description to explain how that employee makes money for the firm. Supervisors can help staff members fine-tune these descriptions. In time, managers and their staffs will be able to discuss each work assignment in terms of how it relates to company profits.
  • Urge every employee to write a brief description of what your company makes or sells. Ask them to cast their descriptions in terms of various company goals, such as quality, customer retention and increased customer referrals.

Make your employees aware that these exercises aren't just busywork, but that you value their ideas and notions about how they contribute to the firm's financial success.

For that matter, you can turn the project into a contest. Consider giving an award for the top three entries, perhaps a lunch out or a night on the town. It's a great way to motivate employees to earn more money for the company — and ultimately for themselves.

While you're at it, make an effort to make personal connections with your staff.

Top managers know they should stay in touch with their employees to avoid isolation and gain valuable insight into what's happening around the company. And it doesn't have to take a lot of effort.

Here are five effective ways to connect with your staff:

  1. Give feedback. Set up a box or e-mail address where employees can vent their concerns and get answers to their questions. The CEO or president can reply to pertinent questions that have the broadest, company-wide implications. The queries can be answered through a company-wide e-mail, newsletter or on department bulletin boards.
  2. Get together. At least once a year, senior management should hold a Q&A session with staff members to answer questions and discuss issues face to face. Nothing can replace the effectiveness of personal encounters.
  3. Be social. An annual picnic, luncheon, dinner, or an outing builds a bond outside the workplace that goes far toward making your staff more responsive to each other and to management.
  4. Take a tour. Managers of all levels should occasionally tour all departments and facilities under their supervision. Sit in on meetings and ask questions. Employees will be inspired when they see you taking an active interest in their corner of the company.
  5. Learn a job. Set aside a day to try a job within your department. Shadow an employee as he makes his daily rounds and ask questions, but don't get in the way. He has a job to do. You will gain a better understanding of what your staff does, and you'll instantly gain respect if your employees see your effort as respect for them. But guard against the perception that you are checking up on employees or your efforts can backfire.

By taking a few steps to connect with your staff, you understand their daily experiences and get valuable insight into what it takes to make your company run smoothly.

Create New Profit Centers

Don't be satisfied with the money you're earning from your core business activities. Make a list of ways that you can squeeze extra profit from every facet of your operations. Here are just a couple:

  1. Encourage sales and front-counter staff to jot down the questions that customers ask most often. Then, train your staff to answer those questions uniformly. You'll get more repeat business, as well as vital information you can use to add value to your products.
  2. Train line managers to measure the time it takes to perform various tasks. Based on that information, calculate a reasonable average time per job — allowing, of course, for emergencies and breakdowns — and urge employees to perform within those deadlines.

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