Posted on January 7, 2014 · Posted in General

Welcome to Monday morning. Looking around, you see your business booming, employees thriving and the kitchen getting a work out, as gossip flows in and out, a constant highway of exaggerations and half-truths. As the crowd simmers down and settles into work, you notice an air of discontent thrum against the gentle paradise you’ve envisioned, as open plan transform your highly trained collection of professionals into a bunch of clock watchers. They drag the chain from task to task, slide in snide remarks about the seating plan and loudly let you know when the air-conditioning is too hot/too cold/not on enough/not strong enough/not on at all. A continuous stream of whine and woe, and while quirks and niggles are partly the fault of the perennial pouters clogging up most companies or agencies, the truth of the matter is, the buck stops with you. You’re the boss, you wanted this gig, this dream, the heavy reality of visions and such, and while they certainly work for you, you work for them too.

Forget about culture for a second (though not too long, as company culture holds organisations together, a kind of essential super glue); wind back your big dreams and focus on the small things for a second. Small things? Big things? What am I talking about? Rest easy, I’ll give you the low down without notching up another Google window.

Clean Up Your Act

Have you ever been greeted by the aroma of rotting banana and days old leftovers, marinading in waste baskets office wide? Most start-ups and green small businesses go through this teething period before hiring a company to do their cleaning up for them. Before you snap your fingers and call in a specialist (think, set up a few office rules for your lovely staff to follow and follow religiously. And no, we’re not talking about HOW to stack the dish washer. Everybody has a different opinion on that front, pick your battles wisely. If you can’t afford a cleaner or until one starts, ask the lovely men and women of organisation to take responsibility for their own rubbish, taking it in turns to take the main bags to larger bin downstairs. Instate a, you used it, you washed it policy and don’t encourage the women of the office to fulfil certain gender roles – the 1950’s has passed, everybody is responsible for their own mess. Instead, remove the drying racks, coffee cups and cutlery until people start getting the message or bring in their own stuff.

Communicate Openly

Many bosses insist they have an open door policy when it comes to complaints and suggestions; in the event one passes across their desk, certain managers either dismiss the feedback or turn the complaint on its head, holding it against the employee and projecting their own feelings of inadequacy or attack. A lot of us don’t know we’re doing it; nobody is perfect, and a title does not make you any more so.

If this sounds like you, or managers within your business, a few lessons in diplomatic communication and active listening wouldn’t go astray. After all, if an employee approaches you with a suggestion or thought regarding an existing procedure or process, they’ve evidently invested a lot of thought into your business and lent consideration to efficiency. You can’t see everything, know everything and have all of the answers; listen to your rank and file members, they can often identify issues and redundancies you’ve never considered before.

The Alchemy of Accountability

To be truly accountable, one has to be completely responsible for their actions. By micro-managing employees or encouraging managers to micro manage team members, you’re robbing your staff of several important professional lessons; yes, mistakes can be costly, they can be harmful, you probably feel like throttling Olivia in payroll for what you perceive to be a very easy task, but anger and the removal of autonomy is not worth the god-like grandiosity of complete control. People who feel crushed or asphyxiated by your lack of trust will not work positively or efficiently, as they believe that you and wider management don’t a) trust them, b)respect them, or c) acknowledge their strengths and allow them to develop their weaknesses. It’s a very tricky balance to maintain. Start by asking those members what they want to achieve, where they feel their skills can be further applied and what areas are falling by the wayside. You are there to help them realise their goals, as much as they’re working for you to further your industry standing and stability.

What say you, managers of the internet? What strategies have you implemented to streamline productivity and encourage further innovation? Let us know in the comments below.