Getting everybody to work well together is one of the keys to achieving and increasing profitability in an emerging business. Large companies hire consultants and spend large amounts of money to instill a results- or performance-driven culture. You’ve probably heard a lot of the buzzwords and acronyms: MBO (management by objective), TQM (total quality management), Six Sigma, Lean – and even Lean Six Sigma.
Fortunately, the basic principles of these systems are relatively simple and can be applied to emerging businesses on an ad hoc basis. In addition to goal setting for employees, you’ll also need to devise incentives that motivate them to perform. Incentives can be monetary or based on recognition. Outlining career paths so employees can plan for their individual growth, along with that of the company, may be one of the most important motivators.
Finally, since family members and friends are often employed at emerging businesses, it’s important to give special consideration to maintaining a sense of fairness throughout your workforce. Doing it right can sustain morale at a high level and minimize disruptions.
“You can’t manage what you don’t measure,” is one of the most widely quoted business aphorisms. Its popularity is supported by the widespread use of results-driven management techniques to improve a company’s performance. These systems come in a wide variety of flavors, but they all rely on defining measurable goals for individuals and teams, documenting the progress toward those goals, and then reviewing the results at a specified interval.
Incentives comprise a carefully calibrated system of rewards – both monetary and emotional – designed to motivate employees to do their best work. The actual incentives can vary from raises and bonuses, to simple gifts like hats and t-shirts that reflect the fact that the employee was part of a team that met a goal or launched a product.
People invest a lot of emotional energy in their jobs. For nearly everyone, it’s the major source of income, and hence financial security. That’s why it’s important for employers to give workers visibility into what they are likely to be doing at work several years into the future. An emerging business can’t define a series of jobs in the same department (Accountant I, II, III, and IV) the way a large corporation can. Although small businesses can provide much more flexibility than their large counterparts, and that’s an important motivator for employees with a more entrepreneurial mindset.
Family businesses are as traditionally American as apple pie. But they also come with traditional problems, if non-related workers feel they’re getting a worse deal than the employer’s relatives and friends. Fortunately, there is a wide range of solutions for this problem. Honesty and transparency are important to reassure employees they’re being treated fairly. Written contracts, rules, and family counsels are often used to keep the family issues and business issues properly aligned.