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When I was starting out in business school just like others, I used to dream big. For me, business school was the ultimate gateway to guaranteed success. Yes, to an extent business school does help. But then reality came knocking me down.
When I launched my first venture back in the year 2014, I gave my full to the business. It was like my baby growing up in front of me. So, logically I was doing all the rules mentioned in my business book. But somewhere down the lane things started shattering. My employees started taking things for granted, my customers stopped doing business with us. What went wrong?
It is when I started my second venture after a year later, I realized that unfortunately business schools missed few basic lessons, which were quite necessary for effective team management. Here, I would like to highlight some of the skills which took my second venture and then, the third to new heights.
It is all the basic stuff, but somewhere we all take this for granted, and that is when things go spinning around us.
Be Clear, Be Transparent
My first venture was a total blowout. Not because I didn’t work the hell out but, because I was not really transparent about what was going wrong in the company. I took the risk, the burden on myself and wanted to keep my employees away from the storm. Which of course didn’t turn out that well. The more I tried to keep things away from the employees, deeper I got sinking into the ground.
To top it up. It was our first venture. So by mistake, I didn’t mention a lot of things to my customers too which didn’t turn out well either. By letting all of your employees and customers know what is happening creates a mutual respect. For instance, my first venture was an e-commerce website that delivered gifts.
Now customers usually need to be updated with the status of the order. My team used to inform the customer on estimated time of delivery (usually to keep the customer engaged) however, we later realized it is better to keep customers informed with the actual delivery timings, and if anything went wrong, just in case with our delivery person we can inform the customer about the whole situation.
This single act of transparency was highly appreciated by our customers, and we got high referrals by practicing this habit in our daily workings.
Keep the communication strong
This small incident cost me around $12,000 in revenue. Here is what happened. It was a normal day just like any other, with orders coming in at a usual rate. However, when the day was about to close, there was this one email which I sent to a customer and it didn’t get through. I informed the IT guy to resolve the issue quickly, but since he was on an official leave and his son took my message, the message was later not conveyed to him.
At night around 3 am, I started getting tweets and calls on my personal number. These calls were from customers who placed the order but didn’t receive any delivery confirmation email. Since our email server was down, our emails to the vendor also didn’t get through. As I wake up the next morning, my Inbox was stormed with emails from angry customers asking for reversal of payments. Eventually, this exercise cost me around $12,000.
So, the lesson I learnt here is to keep your communication strong. No matter how busy you are, or how busy your employees are, train them to work seamlessly by harnessing technology and open-communication channels, while finally closing the issue with a resolution as well. For instance, if someone from the team opens up a discussion, make sure to close it well too.
Now I usually use two to three softwares to overcome this communication problem. For starters, I use Google Hangouts which is an ideal way to connect with your employees face-to-face.
Secondly, I use TaskQue, an online task management software which is a lifesaver when it comes to assigning tasks to employees, and the best part is, jobs get assigned automatically by detecting idle resources. Thirdly I use Slack. This is a great resource to minimize my emailing efforts and put them to zero.
When I started my venture I used to criticize my employees a lot. Whether good or bad I use to tell them upfront that they are wrong and they need to reconsider their way of thinking. Well, this was what we learned at business school to force people to do their work, and criticize them whenever necessary.
But what they forget to mention in B-schools is that, there is a proper way to give constructive feedback. A science of persuasion, a way by which the person’s criticised, won’t mind no matter how bad the news is.
A good practice when someone does something wrong is, not to point it on the spot. Yes, sometimes your employees do silly things or even your business partners do stupid things, which can cost you money. But the best thing is to give them feedback, when they are alone. I also do not suggest you give instant feedback.
If you have any negative feedback to offer, I suggest you take one day to think upon it. The very next day you call the person and tell him, what went wrong and what could have been the most appropriate method to resolve the problem or complete the task.
Yes, positive feedback can be given on the spot and for which, you need to announce it to the public. Let the people know that, good things get appreciated, while bad things are discouraged. As a business leader, your worry should not be focused on people making mistakes, but the otherwise worrying factor is people not learning and growing from these mistakes.
In a nutshell, running a business is one of the most frustrating tasks, if you are not interested in your own product. On the contrary, if you are excited and passionate about the product you are selling, then you can take out time to improve. To build on your people, to educate your customers, and to create an enterprise that is full of well-informed people – should form the core of your successful enterprise.
Jessica Morgan is a Digital Marketing Strategist at TaskQue (free task management software). With an experience of more than 10 years, Jessica helps shape the digital landscape for businesses around the globe.
She has developed expertise in areas of: SEO, Digital Marketing, Social Media, Online PR, B2B Social Selling, B2B Social Media Marketing Basics and LinkedIn Sales. She has been a speaker at renowned international platforms and is in the process of completing her book on digital marketing and future trends in digital marketing.
Image credit: freedigitalphotos.net
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