As it appeared in the Daily Nation on August 29th, 2017
Business owners, business leaders and everyone is business often plans or strategizes. We plan how to run our business and how to align them to the environment. As businesses planned for 2017, most recognized our country’s elections as a potential external threat that needed mitigation. A few others such as those in printing and in advertising considered the elections a great opportunity to seize. Going through the elections period has not been easy for many business. It is evident that businesses especially small and medium sized enterprises have been disrupted by slow business and staff disorientation. It is from this premise that I share with you three ways we can spruce up our business moving forward. I consider these as quick wins that need not wait.
First, we need to recognize our staff. Recognizing our staff does not mean merely acknowledging their presence at work. It means recognizing their key role in the success of our business. I accept as true the Walmart slogan that “our people make the difference”. Recognizing our staff means being cognizant of how they feel and why they feel that way. This means involving the staff in finding solutions, asking for their ideas on how to improve the businesses and valuing their input. This makes them feel recognized. In addition, it means taking time every day to appreciate all staff and extending special recognition to those going an extra mile. There are many more employee recognition ideas that come at no or little cost. University of Washington shares 86 such ideas. These include giving special assignments to staff who show initiative, presentations of results by teams to the leadership, displaying an employee honour roll at the reception as well as acknowledge individual achievements. Other recognition ideas suggested by the University are, giving a personalized coffee cup, throwing a pizza lunch party and celebrating birthdays. All these ideas and more are aimed at raising morale and improving performance at all times.
In our businesses, many activities form the processes that run our operations. Most of these activities are important while others may add no value. Take for instance sending a customer from office to office. Reengineering our processes means looking out for opportunities to improve our work flow. It means redesigning the processes thus making them more user friendly. When processes are well thought out, efficiency is improved. In particular, cycle time is reduced and productivity goes up. This makes our interactions seamless and less painful. Reengineered processes inject new life to businesses resulting to better experiences and sustained success.
Reach out to customers
Finally, it is important to keep in touch with our customers at all times. This means having ongoing conversations with them both in good and in trying times. For retailers, it means chatting the customers at the point of sale to find out how you are doing serving them. For businesses to business clients, simple courtesy telephone calls and face-to-face courtesy meetings make a big difference. Another way to reach out to our customers is to send them regular updates. Asking customers for feedback is also beneficial; ask them to participate in a survey, an interview or a focus group. In addition, reach out to customers via social networks. Above all, stay positive and responsive, return calls and respond to emails, to social media posts and to web-chats. By staying in touch with our customers, we give our businesses a new lease of life. Let us take time to spruce up our businesses!
Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer connect via twitter @KiruthuLucy