It always amazes me the amount of Small Business owners who call me in to…
Is Your Team ‘really’ Happy? 1 Question You Should Be Asking
I was at a CPA Conference last year and heard Tanya Titman from Consolid8 sharing her business journey including some of the challenges and lessons learnt.
But it was when she started talking about her team and what was really going on in her business that my ears really picked up. Tanya was explaining her systems and the numbers she tracked each day, and that she felt she had really great people and the team was kicking along. She provided a very flexible workplace with lots of fun internal and external activities, so she thought she was being a great boss.
But when she started looking at her productivity numbers and where her time and energy was being spent, she was finding the numbers weren’t adding up. So, she decided to bring in a consultant who not only profiled her team but also asked them a number of key questions about how they felt about working at Consolid8.
There was one question Tanya didn’t want to ask, simply because she didn’t really want to know the answer, but she was brave and included it in the staff survey, the question was this:
In the last 12 months, have you wanted to leave the organisation?
And then to get even more context, she included a follow-up question on the form:
If yes, have you wanted to leave in the last 3 months?
And the results astounded her, and not in a good way. Because a large number of staff answered yes to both.
As you can imagine, she was shell shocked – she thought she was a great boss, providing staff with flexible working arrangements, fun team activities, fruit delivered to the office every day, new coffee machines, etc. And yet, she actually didn’t have a very happy team. Why? Because staff weren’t feeling the love from her.
As the business grew, she was spending less and less time with her staff on a 1:1 basis. More time was spent in meetings and on email communication, and they missed her; her advice, personal support and encouragement which comes from face to face communication. Something which was always there when she first started the business because she was in everything, doing everything. But as a business grows, and people move in and out of roles, things change.
So why do I tell you this story?
Because it’s one I’ve heard time and time again from the staff of my clients. So how do I gain this information? My 1 question is a twist on Tanya’s, and it’s this question I ask every staff member when I work with my clients:
So I can best help you and the business, it would really help me if you can please be as honest as you can and tell me ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’ of what’s really happening in the business?
This question puts team members at ease and gives them permission to be honest; even when they feel uncomfortable about talking badly about something or someone.
When I then discuss my findings with the owner or management team, often they are perplexed and can get quite defensive because they thought they were doing OK as a leader. And you know what, they often have been except things have been getting missed or sometimes avoided as the pressure to get everything done during a day mounts.
Now I’m not sure if this is sounding eerily familiar, but if you truly want to know how your team is feeling, conduct at least an annual staff survey and be brave by including these key questions. Because it is much better to know if things are actually off the rails and time and a change in strategy is needed to get the team back on track, rather than lose one or more great staff members simply because you had blinkers on and were afraid to get a reality check.
And remember, it doesn’t have to be you asking the questions or even sending them the questionnaire. You will actually gain more from having someone independent conduct the survey because staff will always tell more (often in great detail) to someone not connected to the business than they will to their boss.
And the opportunity for them to share and vent any frustrations allows them to embrace change and move forward, rather than remaining in the past and blame mode.
Food for thought.
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