As a business grows there are two trends that will typically start to happen, things become busier and management requirements go up. These trends are tied to each other and will usually lead most business owners to a place filled with stress and anxiety.
To run a successful business, you need to be accessible to your team. This is true even if they are a top performing group that require very little management. You need to be there to guide the tougher decisions in the operation side of things, and there need to be regular touch points to ensure that your team is being given enough support.
Being available to your team doesn’t mean you need to be there all the time. But what it does mean is having a plan in place and being there at the critical times. We’ve learned over the years that being an available boss is tough, but not impossible.
Here are some of the ways we approach it.
One of the best ways that you can remain available to your team is by being technologically connected. By creating multiple avenues of communication for your team you mitigate any issues they might have when they need to get in touch. We utilise multiple forms of technology for this reason in our businesses, from mobile phones to email to online tools such as Slack.
The team knows that if there is anything urgent they can reach me via a phone call or a text message. But there are times when the team just want to bounce an idea around that is not as critical for the operations of the business, which is where Slack is a great solution. We have channels set up that allows the team to communicate with each other and have found that even if they were aiming to bounce the idea off me initially, the open discussion element allows other team members to weigh in as well. It’s collaboratively and can be extremely helpful.
Set up Regular Meetings
Another effective approach is that if you know you will be largely unavailable throughout a day pre-arrange a meeting to head off any issues. We make a point of locking in a weekly team meeting with everyone and blocking out time to talk to people one-on-one. By having this dedicated time already on the calendar it establishes a communication flow within the organization. We find an informal approach works best for individual meetings, like going for a coffee chat, and a more structured approach tends to fly better with the full team.
Set Expectations Upfront
Making sure your team knows what is happening time-wise is another fantastic way that you be more available to employees. We make a point at the start of each day to stop by the office and let the team know roughly where managers or supervisors will be over the course of a day. Taking time out each morning sets the expectations for the day and it also gives a good 5-10-minute window to them to flag with us anything that might be important at any given moment. The more information like this that you can provide your team the better they’ll be able to know when and how to be in touch with you.
When You Are Available – BE Available
Have you ever been in a situation when you are talking to who wasn’t listening to you? It’s frustrating and it’s one of the things you need to avoid when you have a moment to be available for your team. There is really no point spending time communicating with people if you don’t listen to them. The message you send to the team is that you are there, but you would much rather be somewhere else. If you aren’t present during the time you have set aside for your team, then they will simply assume you aren’t available and this can create bigger problems for you down the road. Your team may be less likely to reach out to you during a crisis and this could lead to situations that damage your business and your brand.
A simple way to show your team that you are really “in it” with them is by celebrating the successes of the team (no matter how small). This might sound like something that might not demonstrate your availability, but it does. It shows your team that even though you might have been locked away in meetings or not seen in the office much, you are still plugged into what is happening. This will let them know that even if they don’t interact with you often you are still there if needed.
Every business owner or manager is busy, but this is no excuse for not communicating with your staff. Even with a hectic schedule, make sure that you have the adequate time in your schedule to be available for your team. There is no singular approach that will work for everyone, so I would encourage you to try some of our suggestions and see what fits.