The gap between 'should' and 'done'

When you're a small business your staff often have multiple roles – technician, salesperson, accounts department and office manager. Ideally you’re after staff with a ‘can do’ attitude who are great problem solvers and can think outside the box. 

In order to have a team who are not scared to give things a go, you need to invest in your human capital. Some discussions to have in team meetings include:

  1. Fear of making a mistake – one of the reasons we don't tackle things is we worry we might make a mistake, especially if it's not our area of expertise. This is exacerbated if there's been a negative experience in the past. In a small team staff are often asked to take on urgent jobs because there’s no one else available. Your staff  may feel out of their depth if it's not something they've done before. It’s a great opportunity to talk about your expectations around giving things ago and making mistakes.
  2. Indulging in negative comparisons – one of the drawbacks in a small team is that it fosters constant comparison with others. Not every employee is going to be the next rainmaker, but that doesn't mean they won't be a successful member of the team. Be clear about the qualities you value in your staff and the role they all play in making the company a success.
  3. Fear makes us hesitate – sometimes timing is everything and hesitating can mean the difference between launching the idea and watching someone else make a success of 'your idea'. Foster a culture of innovation in your business.
  4. Thinking it has to be perfect – Eric Ries's Lean Startup method has challenged the notion that products need to be perfect before they're introduced to the market. Perfectionism gets in the way of collaborating with your customer to make products that the market actually wants. Microsoft and Apple are examples most of us have experienced. They both released products that have been far from perfect – in fact they release them knowing they had glitches. Customers are prepared to wait for the upgrades and fixes. So, encourage your staff to constantly be attuned to customer feedback and collaborate internally to improve the customer’s experience.
  5. Unrealistic expectations – unrealistic expectations come in all shapes and sizes. They can relate to the length of time it takes to build a product or stay in a role, to the expectation that certain jobs are beneath them and to be performed by more junior staff. In a small business these unrealistic expectations can lead your staff down blind alleys. They waste your time as they sit and stew over the fairness of something whereas they should be focused on giving your customers a compelling reason to shop with you by solving problems that are important to them. In a small team, it’s very important to be clear about what you expect form everyone.
  6. Worrying about what people will think – small businesses are about experimenting, iterations and pivots, so a staff member who fears what people will think if their idea isn't immediately successful can paralyse them and stop them from taking risks. Encourage a culture of experimentation where failure is not a career limiting move.
  7. Knowing each team member’s strengths and weaknesses is part of bridging the gap between 'should' and 'done'.



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