Growing a small business isn’t an easy task. But, learning how to grow your business isn’t just a notable goal, it’s often a necessity for your business’s survival and economic well-being. Almost all companies strive for growth, regardless of size. Small companies want to get big, and big companies want to get bigger. In reality, all companies have to grow at least a little every year to keep up with increased expenses that occur over time.
Growing from a start-up to a small company to a middle size organization requires businesses to adjust to growing needs and implement new strategies and tasks. Let’s look at the key factors of growing a business.
Understanding your customers
The customer is at the heart and soul of any successful organization. Understanding the customer needs and developing products and services that meet those needs is the key to success. As a start-up company, your focus should be on building good relationships with your customers and gaining insights by encouraging them to provide valuable feedback.
As your business grows, you should never lose sight of the customer. In modern business, customer success stories are gold. While traditional organizations are focused on sales, modern, SAAS-based businesses see the importance of shorter-term contracts and faster renewals. In other words, it’s more about keeping existing customers rather than finding new ones.
Knowing what makes people renew is at the core of success. This is commonly known as the customer success story. When trying to grow from a small to medium-sized business, you shouldn’t just explore the factors that close a deal but focus on the areas that make your customers experience successful and keep them coming back for more.
When you start a business it’s likely just you and maybe one or two other founders. In the beginning, you should essentially just keep a good relationship with your customer, while doing a brilliant job at what you do. But, as your business grows, you will need to employ people to help you out. You might want to do everything yourself, but in reality, this can do more harm than good to your business. Building an adequate and capable team is essential to growing your organization.
Of course, hiring employees leads to a whole other set of tasks and responsibilities - you will need to manage these employees. One of the best ways to ensure motivated employees who work hard is to give them a sense of purpose. Often, finding intelligent and talented employees isn’t a problem but making them stay is a challenging task.
Implementing things such as a paid vacation policy, training and development programmes, as well as employee recognition and reward programmes can go a long way in retaining valuable employees.
Another important task that comes with hiring employees is implementing a performance review process. Performance reviews measure an employee's performance and ultimately the projected success of a company. When you first start out and have only one or two employees, the performance review will probably be very informal - a brief discussion over coffee or a pint. You are likely in constant contact with your employees and talk daily anyway. However, as you continue to grow and your team consists of five or more people, you will be preoccupied with other tasks, and communication tends to become less frequent and less personal. At this stage, you will need to implement a formal performance review process.
Creating an employee handbook
The majority of start-ups and small businesses don’t pay attention to HR, but the fact is, Human Resource Management can take your business to new heights. In a start-up business, as mentioned above, communication is flowing, and you should have a very personal relationship with those who work for you. However, as your business and team grow, it’s necessary to implement rules and regulations for employees. Employee handbooks serve as a blueprint for building an enduring workforce and is the best way to ensure that your employees are fully informed about what is expected from them.
Here are some of the important points to include in an employee handbook:
The lowdown on growing a business
Small business owners who are looking to grow their business - whether it’s dramatic or incremental growth - must be prepared to deal with the upside and downside of growth. When the business is small, you will find it easy to direct and monitor the various aspects of daily business. In these environments, as the business owner, you will have a good relationship and open communication with employees, customer, and suppliers. However, organizational growth means that you will be less “hands-on” and need to entrust various tasks in those who work for you. As small businesses grow, so do the complexities of managing the organization. But if handled correctly, these complexities can be reduced by delegating responsibility to your team.
Have you ever thought about why organizations conduct employee performance evaluations? Perhaps you’ve wondered what the point is? Maybe you’ve even considered it to be a waste of time? But, the reality is quite the opposite. Employee performance evaluations are used as an evaluation process and a communication tool that is of utter importance to an organization's success.
At the core of an organization's success are its employees and their capability. Of course, you need to recruit adequate people and give them the training and tools that are necessary to do their job. To ensure that staff is performing and meeting expectations, managers and supervisors need to conduct regular performance evaluations; measuring efficiency, work production, and attitude of employees.
The general consensus on employee performance evaluation
Conventionally speaking, performance reviews are disliked by both managers and employees. Managers don’t like feeling as though they are judging their employees - especially if they have to address underperformance which they know could result in the risk of alienating the employee. On the other hand, employees don’t like the feeling of being judged. For the most part, they tend to take any kind of suggestion for improvement negatively and personally.
This is where employee performance evaluation of the 21st century comes in. If conducted with care and understanding, this process should help employees to see how their job and expected performance fit in with the bigger picture of the organization. Documenting performance evaluations ensures that both the manager and employee are clear about each employees job requirements; setting specific goals (we will discuss this a little later).
Training and developing needs
One of the key factors of an employee performance evaluation is to determine the training and development needs of staff. If an employee is struggling with a specific task or responsibility, they could benefit from a training programme. According to online employment resources, ignoring skill deficiencies can affect an organization's attainment of goals.
When an organization shows interest in helping employees to do their best and invests time and effort into their development, it doesn’t just contribute to the company morale; it also elevates the employee’s self-esteem. An employee that feels valued is more motivated and committed to an organization.
Although the primary goal of an employee performance evaluation is to determine if an employee is a good fit for a company, it also serves the purpose of helping individuals to determine if they have chosen the right career path. Perhaps after the evaluation, you will realize that your employee will be better suited in a different role. You can then implement the necessary steps and processes to get them there. The feedback that an employee receives is invaluable in determining a future course in which the organization and employee can put their interests and talents to the best use.
Set SMART goals
Setting goals is an important part of any employee performance evaluation process. A general guideline used is the SMART goal concept. SMART goals stand for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely, and is a way for employees to effectively formulate and achieve set goals.
An example of a SMART goal
We can assume that the goal is achievable because the employee should have access to the resources required, such as relevant books and internet connection.
Employee performance evaluations are one of the most crucial factors contributing to business success. However, it’s an often stressful situation for those in charge, who have to monitor and keep track of progress, and give accurate feedback without having a negative impact on employee morale. The truth is, both managers and employees often dread performance evaluations. Managers are reluctant to give critical feedback and find the preparation time-consuming, while employees might feel like they are back at school being graded.
But, this is not the way it should be. Properly handled performance evaluations are important for managing the performance of employees, as well as increasing their job satisfaction and commitment to the business. Companies should implement frequent performance evaluations to ensure that company morale is high and that employees are successfully doing their jobs; while also ensuring that employees are given space to grow and improve which will benefit themselves and the company.
Although the methods and approaches used for performance evaluations differ from organization to organization, there are some universal principles when it comes to talking to employees about their performance. Here are some of the top tips for those conducting performance evaluations.
The fairness factor
Fairness is at the heart of improving an employees work experience. When an employee believes that the outcome of their evaluation is connected to how well they performed, they are more likely to consider the evaluation to be fair. Research has suggested that one of the best ways to demonstrate fairness in an evaluation is by comparing an employee’s current performance to past performance; giving feedback on how much the employee has, or hasn’t, made progress over time. This is known as temporal comparison evaluations.
When employees are compared to colleagues (social comparison evaluations), their perception of fairness decreases. They believe that managers fail to account for specific details on their performance and thus deem the evaluation as less accurate. On the contrary; when they are compared only to themselves, employees feel that the evaluation is more individualized since the manager incorporates specific information about them. This makes them feel like they have been treated in a more respectful way.
Give constructive feedback throughout the year
It’s important that performance evaluations are periodic and structured. Have you heard of the saying; what is not asked, never gets done? Well, this couldn’t be truer when it comes to performance evaluations. If managers don’t give feedback, employees get the impression that they don’t care about the work.
Goals need to be set, and they need to be tracked. Tracking goals at all levels ensure that the businesses goals are achieved. This shows the employee that the organization has interest and is committed to achieving their goals. During the evaluation, the feedback should be objective and factual, and there should be dedicated time assigned for the discussion.
Share the performance review process
It’s important that the employee understands how the organization will assess their performance. This will give them insight into what’s expected of them and won’t leave them surprised at the end of the review. Some organizations use critical incident reports - document positive and negative occurrences over the performance review time - and ask the employee to do the same thing. Then at the time of review, you can take a comprehensive look at performance together with the employee and compare the incidents that they have documented.
If employees are well prepared for the evaluation, they are more likely to present data of value to the table. You should never go into a review without preparing for the discussion with the employee. If you aren’t prepared the performance evaluation will fail - you are likely to miss key opportunities for feedback and improvement, and this will leave the employee feeling demotivated about their success.
Conversation is key
Employees need to feel like they can have open and honest conversations with their managers. If you genuinely want to help your employees to improve, and the two of you have a positive relationship, the conversation will be a lot easier and more effective. It can’t just be you doing all the talking in the evaluation - then it becomes a lecture. Employees need to feel like their managers care and have an interest in their success. Ultimately, you want employees who are excited about their potential to grow, develop, and contribute to the organization.
Don’t only give negative feedback
There is always room for improvement, but if you only focus on the negative, your employees will be left feeling unappreciated. In fact, generally, you should spend more time discussing the positive aspects of performance. This will leave employees feeling motivated and appreciated. Having said that, don’t neglect to discuss the areas that need improvement. This is especially true for underperforming employees. The point is, you need to find a balance. When addressing negative feedback, also be sure to mention what the employee does well.
Performance evaluations are the key component to measuring an employee's performance in each and every organization and essentially reflect on the success of the organization. If done correctly, evaluations can boost employee engagement and productivity, which will work in favor of the organization.
The performance review process is an essential part of every organization. It’s a useful management tool that helps to give feedback, review and estimate whether an employee's performance is effective, and to discuss areas of improvement going forward. Performance reviews benefit both managers and employees and provide useful information for the company and its people, that can’t be acquired from any other source.
A well-defined performance review process that is built on consistent, constructive feedback will help your company to retain and develop top-class employees. Here are six ways that performance reviews can have a positive impact on your business.
Make your people feel valued
Many employees like to know where they stand in terms of job performance and what else they can do to help the company move forward. Performance reviews clarify the employees’ role and status within a company. People typically need to feel valued and know that they are producing good work - this will motivate them to work smarter and harder.
Celebrating a job well done is the easiest part of a performance review. If your employees receive frequent praise and recognition, you are on the right track to retaining hard-working staff. Remember that amazing employees are hard to find which is why developing your people is so important - and that’s what performance reviews are all about. Even in the smallest start-ups, employees want to know how they are doing. It can be a challenge to give constant feedback, and a formal review can be exactly what employees need to stay on track and bring up questions that they might not be comfortable asking in casual chat.
To improve communication
The main purpose of a performance review is to open up the conversation between employees and their managers. Some problems that arise from a lack of communication can often be solved by a performance review. If you use the review process as an opportunity to describe the criteria that are used to assess performance, the employee will gain a better understanding of the best way to perform their job.
Communication is something that is often lacking. Encouraging discussion can have a positive long-term impact on the manager-employee relationship. Your employees need to feel like they can come to you if they have any problems. If you don’t keep communication channels open, you will lose a lot of control. Therefore communication is key in running a successful business.
Set new goals
A performance review is a perfect opportunity to establish what your employees personal and career goals are, and to set a long-term plan to achieve them. Self-development is the most important benefit for the employee. Employees who are driven and enthusiastic in achieving their goals are of greater value to an organization. Setting goals helps to motivate employees and lets them know that the company supports them.
Those employees who want to grow within an organization are invaluable, and measures should be taken to keep them motivated. Using the performance review to talk big-picture, set goals, and get your staff excited about their work, will have a long-term positive impact on the success of your business.
Training and development
A performance review is one of the best opportunities for an employee and their manager to identify and agree on areas of improvement. During the discussion of an employee's performance, the absence of specific work skills can be discussed, and arrangements can be made to work on developing these skills.
The performance review can be a way to make the need for training more apparent by connecting it to performance outcomes and future career aspirations. Training and development is a key element in building a successful business. You want employees that are continuously growing and developing their skills.
They keep rewards fair and transparent
Allocating pay increases, bonuses, and promotions can be a very challenging task, especially when trying to keep all employees happy. Naturally, they all want to be compensated for their “hard work,” and if one employee receives something that another doesn’t, they will want to know in extreme detail why.
Implementing bonuses and promotions into the performance review can make the whole process a lot easier. Many organizations have found that simply communicating and giving feedback to employees ensures that rewards remain objective.
Lastly, performance reviews are a great way to keep track of progress. Comparing an employee's capabilities from one period to another will provide the employee and company with measurable marks of improvement, as well as lack of improvement, or even regression in work performance. By charting progress, you can identify what’s working, what isn’t working, and what needs more work.
Remember that performance reviews are only as good as the management team that conducts them. Those companies that are only doing performance reviews for the sake of it are wasting their time. But those that use them to implement business goals are on the right path to accomplishing those goals and essentially their strategic plan.