Small businesses make up a large percentage of the landscaping and snow removal industry, which in my opinion is a big reason why these industries are so great. But because small business owners operate, manage and execute many key functions of the business (sales, operations, scheduling, customer service, ordering materials), it’s easy for business owners to remain too informal in other important areas.
One of these areas that often gets less focus and put on the back burner is human resources. It’s difficult for busy business owners to schedule time away or divert their focus from key functions that are ‘required’ to operate the business versus devoting time and attention to employee matters, whether it be a formal annual review or otherwise.
But ignoring your human resources responsibilities can get you in trouble. Material and equipment are replaceable. Your people are your greatest asset. Great employees are rare, and therefore, extremely valuable. You want to keep them highly engaged, and making HR Management a priority is the first step in doing so.
By making HR management a priority, you will not only have a highly engaged workforce that will lead to an increased employee retention rate, but you will create a terrific differentiator for your company amongst your competitors.
So how can you accomplish this? How can you make human resources a priority and ultimately keep employees highly engaged and happy?
Look at Your Key Players
Start by taking a look at your key players. Make a short list identifying why you singled them out as key performers and contributors. What do they do well that makes them so valuable to your company? Also note where they came from, and how they’ve progressed through your organization.
This will reveal critical success factors for their position as well as the company that you can use to create measurable metrics to help you gauge employee performance.
Measureable metrics benefit the entire organization because they keep the lines of communication open and clear about what is expected of every person on the team.
Plus, quality people aren’t afraid of being measured or accountable. They like it and by putting these measurable ideas out there, you are making accountability and recognition part of your company’s culture.
Conduct Performance Reviews
Once you have measurable metrics for your employees, you can use them to help conduct your performance reviews. These are as important as they are dreaded, but taking the time to discuss and recognize your employees’ contributions pays off in big ways.
By conducting a review you are recognizing your employee for the job they are doing at the company, which is huge in itself. Getting recognized for a job well done is very rewarding, especially when it’s given to someone in front of their peers.
Reviews don’t have to automatically equate to a raises either. Reviews should equate to coaching, coaching equates to constructive criticism, and constructive criticism equates to recognition for those who are meeting and exceeding the measurable metrics you’ve established.
Also, simple things like sending a note home with a gift card for something they will appreciate, like dinner for the family, goes a long way too- probably even further than an annual raise or bonus. It keeps your team engaged and makes them feel appreciated.
When/How to Conduct Your Reviews
The timing of your reviews is just as important as conducting the review itself. Make sure you aren’t conducting your reviews during peak season when you will push it off because you don’t have time. If you push off reviews because you’ve planned for them at a bad time, you’re setting the precedence that the review won’t happen and cheapening its value proposition.
Try to work reviews into your schedule either just before or just after peak times to ensure they are completed.
Getting middle-management involved is also another good way to help with the review process. This reinforces that review, recognition and reward are part of the company culture.
Time Spent Focusing on HR Management is Well Spent
Making HR management a priority will pay off in more ways than one. It’s certainly an investment of your time, but it’s worth it.
If preparing reviews and checking measurable metrics was your highest priority and people are doing what they’re supposed to do, there would be time for you to focus on working on the business to push it forward to the next level of success.
This article appeared in the June 2015 Issue of Snow Business Magazine.