Being busy is great for your bottom line, but don’t let it be an excuse for mistreating your employees or failing to manage your business resources properly.
Successful businesses are busy businesses. It takes a lot of time and effort to juggle multiple projects, people, and resources. But the best business managers can do this effectively without any negative impact on current or future projects. Poor management can and will catch up with you eventually–in ways that will have serious negative effects on your business.
I recently wrote about my terrible customer-service experience with a painter who I hired to paint my new house. He lacked more than just customer-service skills; he was seriously mismanaging his business. It was obvious to me that he lacked the skills to manage his employees and resources effectively. (You know it’s bad when your customers can see serious flaws in your management style!)
Effective business management means being able to successfully handle your “busy seasons.” Learn some basic business management DON’Ts from this misguided painter.
1. DON’T be afraid to delegate. As the job progressed, I realized that the painter’s crew was more skilled than he was (we have several complicated finishes that require an artist’s eye/touch). Yet he was still there, attempting to tell his crew members how to do the work, despite the fact that his skill was…lacking (to put it nicely).
Delegating is a wonderful tool when used properly. It allows management to focus on the tasks that only they can do. It also allows management to determine the best person for a particular job, and it lets that employee put his or her skills to use. Trust that the person assigned to the task will get it done and will do it right. Step away, and do not micromanage. Micromanaging wastes time and resources that are better spent elsewhere.
2. DON’T mistreat your employees. This painter paid his employees poorly to begin with, but he also often owed them money for extra tasks where he promised bonuses (and didn’t deliver).
Your employees are the lifeblood of your company. Treat them that way! Being busy, especially when you do not expect a rush, often means that employees have to put in extra time and effort. Reward your employees for their hard work. Deliver on your promises regarding bonuses or time off. Remember that your employees are the face of your company, and happy employees attract repeat clients. Good employees can and will offer their skills to another company that appreciates and respects them if you don’t.
3. DON’T forget your basic resource needs. Occasionally, his crew would come to work, but the supplies they needed were not available. Without their supplies, they could not work effectively.
Even when you are busy, you still need to remember the basics–do my employees have everything they need to work on a particular project? Do I have the right people available at the right time? All of the supplies should be in place before you actually need to use them. Otherwise, you will be constantly playing catch-up. Do not inhibit progress by failing to have the required resources. Reorder supplies when you get low, not when you run out. Consider having employees on stand-by should someone fail to show up to work. If you are having trouble keeping up with this task, then find a responsible employee who can take on the obligation. (Remember when we talked about delegation…?)
4. DON’T set unrealistic expectations for your employees to try to meet.He told me I wouldn’t be able to see the wallpaper lines if we painted over the wallpaper, but those lines were as plain as day.
If you promise a work product, be sure that it is actually possible. Promising unrealistic results not only angers customers, it decreases employee morale. In my situation, those painters had to do a lot of extra work to make the walls look seamless. I trusted that the business owner knew better than I did, since painting was his expertise. He swore that when his guys were finished, we’d never know the wallpaper was there, so I held him to that. If he’d done what I requested and stripped the walls first, he wouldn’t have lost time and money on my job.
Allowing your employees to try and fail repeatedly because you did not have realistic expectations will seriously damage your business in the long run. Try talking to your employees to determine goals that they think are realistic before making any promises to your customers.
5. DON’T forget to enforce your underlying brand culture. It was clear that cutting corners was a part of this painter’s business model.
Keep value and customer service at the forefront of your brand culture. Cutting corners to save time will ultimately do more harm than good. Your customers want a quality finished product, and employees who take pride in their work want to give customers outstanding products and services. Foster an environment where your employees can excel, and your customers will be grateful.
Effective business management often means stepping back to allow your employees to shine. Keep these five DON’Ts in the back of your mind every day, and your business will be well on its way to happy employees and happy customers.