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Rookie Mistakes Your Business Might Be Making And How To Fix Them

Internal problems, industry disruptions, and brand new innovations constantly prompt businesses to figure out new ways of doing things. This year is particularly fraught with these changes as the world continues to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. 

One common thing we saw globally is that the organizations who knew how to adapt were more likely to survive compared to stagnant businesses who moved a little too late. 

As the year is nearing its end, it’s a good time to begin reflecting on your performance. What are the mistakes you can learn from? What improvements can your business implement that will help you achieve more success in the coming year? While every organization has its own vision and goals for the future, there are some common slip-ups you should look out for. 

6 Mistakes Your Business Could Be Making

1) Maintaining poor internal communication 

Poor communication is one of the most difficult things to fix within any organization because it takes so many forms:

  • Inconsistent jargon: When you have different employees from all walks of life with all kinds of experiences, the language they use would be inconsistent. Instead of using only one word to refer to the same thing, you would probably see three words used in the same way. 
  • Unstructured meetings: Having too few meetings with your staff would leave gaps on what they know. On the other hand, having too many meetings will drain your employees and their productivity. A structured meeting should have a regular, set schedule with an agenda and extra time for any additional concerns. 
  • Zero updates on wins: Don’t assume that everyone will magically know when something great happens. Weekly updates on company wins will help boost morale and show that your organization is getting something done. 

Your employees would definitely feel the effects of lacking or misaligned communication efforts, which can result in a lot of confusion, anxiety, or a downturn in their productivity. Remember that smart, effective employees want to know what your strategy is. You have to make everything clear for your staff and engage them in conversations about what works, what doesn’t, and what is hard. 

Instead, try: Take time to get everyone on the same page. Implement meetings by department then allot one weekly meeting for all-hands. Let everyone know when good stuff happens and keep communication clear. 

2)  Underinvesting in employees 

When we say underinvesting in employees, it doesn’t necessarily mean something monetary. More and more of the younger workforce are seeking out feedback from their employers and opportunities to grow. This means spending a lot of time training and mentoring employees, as well as providing them the tools to level up. Some things employees tend to neglect when it comes to their employees are: 

  • Few 1-on-1 meetings: Aside from feedback, employees want opportunities to speak up about how they feel or the challenges they’re facing. When you don’t make time to check in, assumptions creep in and people stress out about their performance. 
  • Poor onboarding process: When some businesses hire employees, they pretty much end up throwing them off a high dive. This means brand new employees come in without much awareness of what their role is or how things work. No matter how smart and capable your new hires are, they still need to be onboarded to lessen any confusion or misunderstandings. 
  • Zero mentorship opportunities: Sometimes, management tends to ask people to do things they haven’t done before without providing them a structure for success. Without giving them the right tools and coaching, employees have a hard time evolving into the successful leaders you need them to be. 

Instead, try: Look for a framework you can use to develop a staff growth and mentorship program. Together, your staff can articulate their goals and work with their mentors on how to achieve them. Think of ways you can give and receive feedback so that the people who do leave your company go better than they came. 

3) Forgetting to work on company culture

An amazing company culture will never manifest overnight, and that is something many businesses fail to realize. A strong workplace culture can spell the difference between having impressive employee retention and satisfaction or high turnover and low employee morale. Think about how much money you spend as you’re constantly providing for employees off with stress or poor health, absenteeism, and a high turnover. 

Businesses should realize that they need to actively work towards the culture that they want. This can be done by looping in your employees to build a company culture that isn’t out of touch with their needs. Do they want more flexibility? More team gatherings? Asking what your employees need to stay healthy and satisfied is the basic step towards a vibrant company culture. 

Instead, try: If you’re not comfortable with major changes yet, start out small by creating a handbook for your employees. This will help set expectations and standards, as well as maintaining fairness with your staff. A handbook can provide your employees with a consistent, non-overbearing structure that scales. 

4) Misunderstanding customers and clients

Working with customers or clients is possibly the most difficult aspect of running a business. It’s very easy to misunderstand or make assumptions on who they are and what they need from your business. Sometimes, this makes it difficult to maintain a good relationship or be genuinely useful to them. 

While it’s difficult to prevent any miscommunication from happening, the easiest way to avoid misunderstandings is to be a good listener. Pay attention to what your clients say and ask them questions to fill in the gaps. 

Make an effort to see what they are really upset about before trying to find a solution and try to be more understanding with their behaviors. Even if it can be frustrating, your job is to keep customers and clients satisfied.

Instead, try: Don’t overlook any unfinished business. Whether it’s an unpaid last invoice or a missed deadline for documents, always address an incomplete situation with your client. Having an understanding of the situation can reduce friction before the situation gets tense and will allow your team to resolve any inconsistencies before they become major problems. 

5) Having no documented process

Many businesses never define their processes clearly or use an undocumented process, not realizing how a documented process can help keep operations running smoothly. Without documenting your steps and the results, you won’t be able to see what works and what doesn’t. 

Documentation  ensures that  processes are maintained and continually refined. Any employee will also be able to execute operations at any time with minimal mistakes and a high level of accuracy. You can compile everything relevant to your system through policies, checklists, handbooks, tutorials, links, forms, and other applications. 

Instead, try: Aside from documenting your business processes, you should also create a “post-mortem” system. This way, your staff can communicate their experiences after a project is completed. You can also host a post-engagement meeting to review these experiences, record the lessons you learned, and figure out ways to integrate these findings to your existing body of knowledge. 

6) Holding onto old structures

Gone are the days when  employees were just another cog in the machine. Real, organic, creative collaboration is possible in our modern age. Forget those old structures and introduce a more hierarchy-lenient workplace to your employees. 

Flat organizational structures can empower individuals in your company to be involved in decision-making processes and receive feedback quickly. When you elevate the responsibilities of baseline employees and eliminate middle management layers, you free up more room for creative discussion and operational diversity. The flat structure generally works well for smaller organizations or individual units within a larger organization.

Instead, try: Avoid conference calls or email discussions. Try to gather employees in a conference room, turn off all your devices, and engage in an uninterrupted brainstorming session regularly. This will help you and the organization accomplish more together. 

3 New Year’s Resolutions For Your Business

Even though 2021 is still a long way to go, there are a few things you can already do to give your business a head-start:

  • Have a weekly business planning event: When you set time each week to review and adjust your business strategy, you can avoid costly mistakes and stay on track. Regular business planning lets you see what worked and what didn’t, so you can redefine your direction or adjust old goals.
  • Be more flexible: Employees know that it’s much easier to work remotely, thanks to our digitally connected world. Even though office face time is important, flexibility towards your employees can save them time on their daily commute - allowing them to be happier and more productive. A meeting-free day can also help them maintain their health appointments, tackle back-logged tasks, and stay on top with managing their household. 
  • Let go of what doesn’t work: When a technique, product, or business relationship is not working for you, it’s time to let it go. Don’t invest a lot of energy forcing something to become workable. Find something better that you can really maximize and stick with that instead. 

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