Being a business owner or team manager can throw up some real challenges. Along with keeping an eye on how the overall business is performing, winning new contracts, and delivering your own work, you also have to provide your employees with everything they need to carry out their job to the best of their ability.
This can be a tricky balance, and it's easy to find a routine that does the job and stick to it. But, in an ever more competitive world, it's vital to perform regular leadership audits to review how you are performing as a manager. This will not only improve the morale and productivity of your employees, but will also give you an edge against competitors, as you'll see your business functions improve too.
Seven ways to get started
1. Start with an overview of how well the business is doing
Your business dashboard will keep you on track with the headline business figures your leadership is ultimately achieving. Take the time to carefully look through all the components by which you judge your overall success. This may include:
- how your key performance indicators are doing
- sales figures
- number of positive customer reviews
- speed of service.
Once you've established the above, you'll have a set of figures to bear in mind when you speak to your staff as outlined below.
2. Check on your staff
Take a look at how your employees are doing. It's important to look at key statistics and figures relating to HR and staff turnover. Start by assessing the following over the previous twelve months:
- How many people resigned?
- How many people did you let go?
- How many people failed probation this year?
- How many people have you promoted?
- How many are struggling and need further training to continue working for you?
3. A bit of self-analysis doesn’t hurt either
Consider getting off the hamster wheel once a month or once a quarter. Take the time to re-visit your vision and values, and exercise a healthy dose of honesty to assess how you’re measuring up.
Similar to giving yourself targets in delivering work, set yourself clear targets on how you'd like to improve your leadership style. This could be supplemented by reading articles or books on alternative management styles, or even taking a short course on how to manage adversity in the workplace.
4. Consider a simple 360 degree feedback system
Feedback is crucial to growth. It’s a great way of checking out your effectiveness but also finding out what people want from you as a leader.
When you conduct performance reviews ask these three questions:
- What’s the most important thing you want from me as a leader?
- What can I do to make your job better/easier?
- What do I do that stops you doing a better job or perhaps from enjoying your job more?
Make a note of each answer and at the next review ask how you did. It can be that simple. This will not only improve your relationship with your employees, but it also means that you'll come away with a clear focus on what each of your teams need from you. Asking direct questions like these will result in a significant change in the quality of feedback you receive from your employees during their annual reviews.
5. Be flexible and approachable
It's easy to spend a fixed amount of time assessing and tweaking your leadership style, but you need to remember that management is organic. Workloads, priorities and even employees will change, so don't rest on your laurels.
Respond to any opportunities that arise which could make you a better leader. This may be mentoring an employee on an aspect of the business that doesn't fall within their remit but that they're keen to explore. Or, it could be taking on some admin duties for a day or two while an employee is on a course. Showing your team that you're still willing to muck in makes the world of difference in their approach to both you as a leader and their attitude to their own duties.
6. Consider external mediators
Another way to get a really good idea of what your team think and feel about working with you is to get someone independent in to talk to them confidentially.
The quality of feedback and ideas for improvement you get from team members who open up to an outsider is second to none. You get a real sense of what’s having an impact on them personally, whether it’s a small niggle or a massive block.
Then feedback is given with the key themes and ideas anonymously to you as the business owner, which will allow you to develop a plan of action.
7. Don't forget your customers
You may want to ask your customers, ‘What are we doing well?’ and ‘What could we do better?’ I know this works if you stick with it and build trust. It may take time for people to realise that you’re not just ticking a box but that you’re serious about learning and improving. You need to also rein in your reactions and not go on the defensive which I know can sometimes be easier said than done.
The upshot with these types of leadership audits is that people feel they’re being proactively listened to and their ideas acted upon. This is great for two-way communication, your relationships, team morale and, ultimately, productivity.
Above all, be open minded, take action and then follow up just as you would with tasks you’ve set your team members. You'll notice a huge difference in the productivity and morale of your teams.
About the Author
Marianne Page is the creator of Systems4Scale and author of the bestselling book, Simple Logical Repeatable. She has 27 years of senior management experience with McDonald’s under her belt, and a further ten working with successful small business owners, helping them to scale, grow and occasionally sell their business.