When you’re running a business, you have dozens of things to tackle every day. The list of to-do’s in your head grows longer and longer. It can be overwhelming to think about improving systems and processes when you’re focused on keeping your customers and employees happy day-to-day. It can seem like there’s just not enough time to step back and do the kind of audits and review that you’d need to improve your businesses efficiency. But many business owners are overlooking how much information is already available to help improve your business.
Your employees are your best source of information. Not only do they see different sides of the business than you do, they’re also on the ground, interacting with customers and each other, which makes them better equipped to identify problem areas but also to create solutions. This helps create an open, trusting workplace where solutions can come from anywhere and the entire team is valued as an important part of the business.
Here are a few simple ways that you can get your employees to share their best ideas and make sure you can use them to help improve your efficiency:
1. Promote an open culture
Many businesses operate with an unspoken divide between management and day-to-day employees. It’s often not intentional, but this misstep can mean that you’re missing out on opportunities to connect with your employees and hear their thoughts on bettering the business.
When new employees start, it’s always good to remind them that your door is open and that you’re interested in their thoughts. Then, be sure you follow up with employees soon after they start to show that you’re available and willing to hear from them. This ensures that each and every employee knows they’ll have a relationship with you that is trusting and productive. This also sets the expectation that you are open to feedback, which means that your employees won’t wait to come to you with ideas, issues or suggestions.
2. Schedule time for feedback
Your employees are nearly as busy as you are - stocking the floor, addressing customer issues, and performing opening and closing duties. Hopefully, their shift includes very little down time. This is great for day-to-day productivity but isn’t conducive to providing employees the time to really think about where the business could improve, let alone to capture their thoughts and share with you.
It can be helpful to hold a bi-weekly or monthly meeting with the sole purpose of bringing new ideas or solutions to the table. Set the stage at the beginning of the meeting to let staff members know that this is not a time for complaints: it’s a time for solutions. These meetings will have a snowball effect, when one great idea is shared and team members build and add more ideas and solutions, making them a valuable block of time to get efficiency solutions from those closest to your business.
Schedule employee feedback time to improve your company's processes.
3. Empower your teams to make change
Empower your team to make change based on employee feedback.
Coming out of meetings, it’s easy to walk away and hope that someone else will make the change. But whether you agree on a new way of doing things via email or at a monthly staff meeting, it’s guaranteed that nothing will get accomplished unless you let your staff know that they’re all responsible for making improvements - after all, when everyone helps, everyone benefits. When you’ve selected the best feedback and solutions to implement, make sure that you communicate to all of your employees that they can help turn ideas into action. Creating teams that tackle specific assignments, or encouraging employees to involve each other in new solutions, can go a long way in creating change that improves your overall efficiency.
4. Centralize communication and accountability
While it’s important to involve all of your employees in the feedback and implementation stages, at the end of the day you need a core team responsible for holding your organization accountable to new efficiency standards. In most cases, this core team should be your management staff. Giving management staff a central place to review and discuss feedback will help ensure that the work gets done.
Employee management software systems can be great solutions for this workspace. ZoomShift offers managers journal; a space for manager’s eyes only that allows you to enter information, comment on and share it with the rest of your management team. All managers are notified of entries in the Manager’s Journal, ensuring that you’re all on the same page and that feedback is being addressed and changes implemented.
Your employees are a valuable asset in making sure your business is running as smoothly and efficiently as possible.