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23 February 2016
Employee Motivation


The essential guide to Starting Up & Growing your Business

Barrier 6 – People & Change

Do you feel like you’re walking on egg shells when trying to encourage your staff to change their working practices and behaviours?  Does their productivity drop when pushed out of their comfort zones as your company moves to the next stage of growth?

People are the key asset in every business, and you cannot grow your business without the help of others.  Continuing to run things as a small business as you get bigger doesn’t work.  In the first article of my series Conquering Barriers to Business Growth – You, The Owner I touched on the importance of learning to delegate, and not meddling in the detail or trying to solve other people’s problems for them.

The thought of delegating to your staff, especially if they’re new to the business, can be scary.  The fear of losing control of the detail is the key factor that normally keeps you meddling in the operational minutiae that you should be confident to leave to your employees.

Delegation, however, is not the only art you need to master when building your first team of employees.  There are many factors that you have to carefully think through and manage.   Here are four ways to help you form a successful and productive team to build your business on.

Company Culture

This may sound wishy washy, but culture and wellbeing in the workplace is fast becoming recognized as the key influencing factor in successful businesses which, lets face it, should come as no surprise given that a business is only as good as its People.

In a global survey carried out in 2015 by Deloittes, 87% of organisations responded that their number one challenges are employee engagement and culture issues.  They summarized that “organisations must begin to hold leaders accountable for building a strong and enduring culture, listening to feedback, and engaging and retaining their teams”.

As part of your business development consider how you want your business to be perceived as an Employer – what will your staff say about your business to their network of contacts, friends and even your clients?  The culture you want can only come from you at the top, and be filtered down – lead by example.

The most successful businesses outperforming their peers, and most likely to beat their competition in attracting and retaining top talent, are creating cultures defined by

  • meaningful work
  • deep employee engagement
  • job and organisational fit
  • strong leadership

Clearly define your core values, and communicate them regularly to your team so they become part of their everyday work ethic.  Everyone in the business should share a common goal and understand how their role affects the business and it’s results.


Friendly or Formal?

On a more tangible level, another key factor for small business owners is formalizing the employee/employer relationship.  Many micro and small businesses start off with best friends, family members, or casual labour helping out in the business, with no formal terms, conditions or contract of employment.

This may suffice to a point, but if you are serious about growing your business you will have to formalize these unspoken agreements, not only to reduce the risk to your business but also to enhance the relationship on both sides.  Giving your staff, at the very least (and it is actually a legal requirement) a formal contract of employment and a well-designed job description, shows your commitment to both them and your business.  It will create a sense of clarity, permanency and should result in greater engagement from your staff.

Formalising the working relationship doesn’t have to jeopardize the friendship between you and your staff.  If anything it should strengthen the confidence between you, eliminating any ambiguity or future misunderstandings.  It will also enhance the professionalism of your business, providing a sound commercial foundation to drive the business forward.


Reward to Retain

Once you have formalized your team, the last thing you want is to lose them after a few months and have to start again.  The Institute of Leadership & Management (iLM) have published survey results claiming that 37% of UK workers were hoping to leave their job inside 12 months, and a quarter of those cited their main reason as being underappreciated by their current employer.

Motivation and reward are vital for staff retention, and it doesn’t have to be costly.  Financial reward is not the only way to build loyalty from your staff.  Sometimes positive feedback, and where necessary give corrective advice, is all it takes to make someone feel appreciated.  Other workers are happy so long as the work is interesting, satisfying and helps them develop.

As the business owner, set out your goals for achieving employee engagement by examining the challenges they face and helping them overcome those.  Rewarding people by helping them develop is also beneficial to the business.  You can consider initiatives that

  • challenge and stretch your employees, giving them more responsibility
  • give constructive feedback on a regular basis
  • link long term development to the short and long term needs of the business, and make this connection visible and clear for the team to understand
  • celebrate successes – even small ones, but be spontaneous now and again

Systems & Structure

The last factor is how you organise your business.  When moving through the start-up to first growth phase a lot of change can take place in a very short space of time, which can be daunting for you as the owner let alone the staff being carried along with you.  There is always a need to be flexible and fluid, but in order to stay in control of your business growth you must put systems and processes in place.  Providing structure to their working day, week or month helps your employees feel stable in what can otherwise be overwhelming state of constant change.

Going back full circle to the beginning and my point about learning to delegate, this is made so much easier if you have mapped the work flows, written the manuals and procedures and set out your expectations clearly.  Creating systems, within which people should work, from giving them a simple daily task list, to more sophisticated control mechanisms defining the indicators against which their progress will be measured and managed, is essential.  Without these your employees have little or no understanding of what is expected of them, and delegating to them will create you more problems than it resolves.

In summary your business is only as good as the quality of the people you recruit , and they can only be as effective as the tools and training you provide them with to do their jobs well.  Get your team recruited, trained and bought in to your company culture from the beginning and you’ll reap the rewards very quickly.

Next Week

Barrier 7 – Managing the Money! –  In the last of this series of Conquering Barriers to Growth, we look at how the lack of financial strategy and poor control leads to a downfall.  We’ve all heard that Cash is King, yet 50% of small firms have no financial budgeting process or sufficient controls to ensure a secure level of liquidity.


Alluxi is here to offer you support through these times of change, bringing a facts and figures approach to evolve your business and realise your goals.

As a first step towards identifying your current business challenges and evaluating where your future opportunities exist within your business, we invite you to complete the in-depth Alluxi Business Success Scorecard delving into the 10 key critical success areas.

Take 15 minutes to respond to the scorecard and get your results within minutes.  You’ll have the opportunity to book a follow-up Productivity to Profit Breakthrough Session to find out how you can implement rapid and measurable improvements.