Every business hits rough patches, often without warning. The biggest client in your company’s portfolio walks. A key employee resigns to work for the competition. The global economy gets hammered by an unforeseen crisis, and you have to start allowing everyone to work from home. During these critical moments, your team members will navigate, pivot, and respond effectively only if they can rely on smoothly running operations and protocols.
Unfortunately, not all enterprises have ironed out the proverbial wrinkles in their day-to-day operations. Consequently, when crises occur, they’re left wondering what to do — and they’re at risk of becoming paralyzed by inefficiencies. If you’re working in an environment where serious hiccups and bumps happen far too frequently — and tend to disrupt everyone’s flow — you owe it to your team to implement updated procedures and standards.
Below are five strategies to improve your internal organization and general rhythms. The fewer daily hurdles you and your colleagues deal with, the easier it will be to respond confidently to unexpected snags.
1. Vow to become a people-first company.
All companies are composed of human beings (at least until robots take over), and human beings perform best when they feel comfortable, secure, and, above all, engaged. According to Gallup’s research, organizations with actively engaged employees are more productive and post lower turnover rates than their counterparts with disengaged workforces. Therefore, put your people’s needs ahead of your corporate objectives when possible. This doesn’t mean you have to give up on your mission or vision or give in to unrealistic demands. However, it does mean that you should carefully recruit, hire, and train only the individuals you feel will enhance and embrace your culture.
How do you find intelligent, devoted, and enthusiastic workers? Attract those “unicorns” with unparalleled benefits and perks that actually make a difference in their lives. For example, offer a robust health insurance plan, student loan stipends, and professional development opportunities. After onboarding, empower employees to make decisions — and trust them, even if they err from time to time. Make it simple for them to contribute, and respect their ideas. Above all, be consistent in the way you treat your crew to grow a sense of two-way loyalty.
2. Compile your team’s collective know-how in a single spot.
You’ve spent hours and hours bringing together a spectacular group of employees. Now, ramp up your team’s collective know-how by curating everything in one spot with the help of a knowledge management system. A knowledge management system is a single portal where all your combined intelligence is stored. From FAQs to SOPs, anything important goes into one centralized hub. Employees then can be given access to all or some parts of the knowledge management system portal, depending on the needs of their role.
How does this portal work in practice? Imagine this scenario: An irate customer calls your company. The employee who answers the phone isn’t a call center employee. That doesn’t matter; the aim is to help the customer who probably doesn’t want to wait on the line for the customer service rep. Therefore, the employee quickly logs into the knowledge management system and finds the customer’s information, as well as paperwork outlining how to deal with the particular problem. By the end of the phone call, the customer feels understood and the employee has had enough insight to self-assuredly and smoothly handle the task.
3. Strengthen your internal communications.
A recurring complaint among disengaged, dissatisfied workers is that their companies lack transparency. In other words, personnel feels they’re the last to know important items or details. Avoid this issue by communicating authentically and honestly with your team members.
Of course, as a leader, you’ll sometimes have to be discreet in your dealings with personnel. You can’t always give them the inside scoop, and that’s to be expected. Nevertheless, when you can pass along information, do it. Initiate one-on-one and group discussions, and create an atmosphere where employees don’t feel the need to walk on eggshells or worry that you’re going to drop terrible news on them without warning. Over time, your openness will influence your colleagues to act with empathy and honesty, too. Your company will reap the benefits of a less psychologically stressed workforce.
4. Innovate, and embrace technology.
Can you imagine the first teams who dabbled in Slack? The platform must have seemed strange, with its organizations of pings and texts. Nevertheless, those pioneers unafraid of investigating evolving technologies and advancements persevered. As a result, Slack took off and is trusted by more than 12 million people each day.
To be sure, you don’t need to test every innovation that enters the market. However, you also shouldn’t cling to clunky, old-fashioned systems that annoy workers — and customers. Choose advancements that could positively affect your operations; test them on a small scale before rolling out major changes. If a product doesn’t work, ditch it. Some technology isn’t suitable for every business’s needs. But you’ll never know which ones are worthwhile until you experiment.
5. Write down your business plan.
Has it been a while since you penned your last business plan? Is your original plan antiquated? Now is the perfect time for you to reimagine your organization’s future and put your boldest ideas in writing. You don’t necessarily have to do this alone, either: Tap your superstars to help construct a dynamic plan. As the old motto goes, you can then “plan your work and work your plan.” In other words, stay the course by following your map.
To be sure, once you’re moving forward, you’ll want to schedule periodic plan overviews to ensure your plan remains relevant. You may need to change aspects of it from time to time; business can change abruptly, making elements of even the best business plan obsolete. But don’t let your plan sit on a shelf: Keep it front and center so you can refer to it for guidance.
You can’t predict all the challenges your business will face. Nonetheless, you can set up your team to more effortlessly deal with hitches by cultivating a positive working atmosphere where anyone can find the right information, employees know the company’s preferred direction, and everyone wants to contribute.