Telling the truth about SME life today

Frankie says relax

There’s never been a more vital time to have the right team around you. However clever (or not) we all are at running our businesses, it is your team that will help your business survive in these tough economic times.

One of the characteristics of the recession has been that people have caught on to just how much of a buyer’s market it is, and can therefore expect the best in quality of goods and service. It’s become an absolute necessity for the whole team to buy into the concept of customer satisfaction. I’m sure I’m not alone in having to re-educate, train, re-align and sometimes replace members of my own team over recent times.

As with the proverbial cloud and silver lining, there have been huge plusses: both in terms of satisfaction of providing better quality, but also working with a team towards common goals. The workplace becomes a happier, more positive and more focused place, and staff morale has risen.       

The other challenge lies in recruiting the right people. When someone negative departs, it’s essential to recruit someone twice as positive as you actually need, otherwise the newcomer will get gradually sucked into playing the expected negative void in the pack. Luckily, another silver lining has been the availability of some outstandingly good candidates, which we can pick up.

But I’ve also found that it’s more important than ever to employ the candidates with the right personalities over the skills that can be easily taught.

A friend advised me to include three new specific questions in interviews:

  1. What makes you stressed
  2. How would I know if you were stressed
  3. How do you do deal with stress?

In more demanding times, it’s easy for all of us to become stressed, so the more obvious aspects of the questions need no explaining. However, the candidates’ answers reveal a great deal more about them, and how they would work within my team.

Us business owners can also reflect on these same questions. How can we have a positive influence on our business if we’re too stressed to enjoy it” Consciously and unconsciously, we let our staff know when we’re stressed…and that stresses them.

More than ever, we should only be running our businesses if we genuinely thrive on them. And personally, I need to do more health-giving, stress-busting activities, rather than indulging in too much red vino and nicotine. Is it too late for New Year’s Resolutions?



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