When you are running a small business it’s easy to get so caught up in doing the work, stressing about the future, and focusing on keeping your business going that the simple act of communication can fall by the wayside. And if you have competent staff who are getting their job done, it’s can be easy to forget to check in with them. But that’s no way to grow your business.
Regular readers will know that I’m currently mentoring Renee Freedman from Guardian Strata as part of Microsoft’s ModernBiz Technology Make-over. As part of this initiative, Guardian Strata is undergoing tremendous change – and not just in the area of technology.
I know that Renee – and everyone else on the team at Guardian Strata is stretched. They are bogged down with the day to day demands on the business. And I’m sure many other small business owners – and those who work in small businesses – can relate to this.
When this happens, it’s easy to forget about the importance of communication – with the rest of the team, with the principal and even with suppliers and other stakeholders.
I shared with Renee my 3 pillars of communication for any business.
1. The weekly WIP meeting
Some businesses do that every day. But I find that a weekly work-in-progress (WIP) meeting with your team is vital to keep everything on the right track. If you have a huge staff, you might want to break this into departmental team meetings.
This is a great opportunity for you to:
- celebrate the wins you’ve had during the week
- discuss any issues with current customers, suppliers or other stakeholders
- cover off any administrative items and housekeeping (like who is going on leave and who is taking over their role in
- the meantime)
- plan and prioritise for the week ahead
- simply get together and talk as a team. Sometimes, the best ideas for your business will come from the coalface. Give
- these team members an opportunity to contribute their two cents.
2. One-on-one catchups with key staff
As the business owner, it’s essential to have one-on-one catchups with key staff, most likely those who are directly reporting to you. The frequency of this will depend on the nature of your business. For some businesses, a weekly 15 minute catchup is essential. Others may prefer to deep dive into issues for an hour once a month. In my business, I aim for a weekly or fortnightly for my direct reports.
3. Communicating with suppliers or contractors
Often, suppliers and contractors are forgotten. If you have big changes coming up in your business, it’s useful to get your key suppliers on board. Consider sending a monthly or semi-regular email to keep everyone updated with what’s going on.
Remember that your suppliers are an integral part of your business. For some, they not only sell you stuff, they may also champion you, help streamline your cost centres and introduce you to potential customers.
If you’re a business owner, I strongly recommend that these pillars are the minimum you need to keep your business machine well oiled. If you’re working for a small business owner who doesn’t have these three pillars, don’t be afraid to suggest them!
Too often, business owners adopt the approach that “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. it’s tempting to think that you don’t need to communicate with staff unless there is something wrong that needs to be addressed. We need to flip the paradigm on this approach and structure regular opportunities for communication with team members. They are the wheels of your business and, if given a chance, their ideas and actions can potentially transform your venture.
You can view the latest webisode in the #ModernBiz series here.
Lisa (BELOW) and the Guardian Strata team on their technological transformation.
This content has been created as part of my involvement in Microsoft’s #ModernBiz Program.