Help Your Staff Succeed

Many small business owners, managers and supervisors inadvertently sabotage their staff’s ability to succeed. They often do it by neglecting three basic things: job descriptions, the employee handbook and annual performance reviews. In small workplaces, these items may seem like mere formalities, but they are critically important to helping employees excel both as individuals and as a team. If you haven’t already taken action on these items, here’s why it’s important and how you can start.

Have Written Job Descriptions
Simply put, a written job description is the only common language an employer and an employee have for communicating what, how and when work is to be done, what results should be achieved and how success will be evaluated. Without a written job description, your employee is left to guess what you actually expect. This uncertainty often translates into a “damned if I do, damned if I don’t” mindset on the part of the employee. If even one member of your team is subject to this kind of daily uncertainty, it can lower the morale of your entire staff and prevent them from sharing their ideas or taking initiative.

Preparing or updating a job description with the employee(s) involved can be a good opportunity to better understand how your organization functions and make any changes that you both agree might be required. Don’t worry if the specifics of a particular position need to evolve over time, work with the employee(s) involved to develop an initial job description and agree to revisit it in six months time.

Have an Employee Handbook
The employee handbook further outlines the parameters of the relationship between your organization and its employees. It is the best way to convey information about policies pertaining to time off; vacations; sick days; overtime; use of company computers and property, phones, faxes and other equipment; access to and use of customer information; whether or not personal mobile phones are allowed in certain areas of the workplace; safety and security procedures; facility opening and closing checklists; workplace policies stipulated by the government, etc.

The employee handbook is important from the perspective of ensuring that all employees are treated equally with respect to the basic rules of the workplace. If you run into a situation that isn’t covered by the handbook, you can always add it in. Be sure to schedule an annual update of this important document and that all employees are aware of its contents. In the event of a dispute, this will help prove that your organization has done its due diligence with respect to compliance with the Employment Standards Act.

Have Annual Performance Reviews
Imagine how you’d feel if you had been working hard for a year or more, trying your very best and then, out of the blue, your boss told you that you were so far off-base that you were being disciplined and/or your job may even be in jeopardy. For both the employee and his or her coworkers, the experience can be absolutely devastating, undermining both their self-confidence and trust in management for months (or years) to come.

Conducting a formal, documented annual performance review for each employee based on the evaluation criteria outlined in the job description provided to them. prevents this from happening. It also allows you and any employee who may be missing the mark to work together to improve job success through increased communication and additional training or other supports. For the employer, annual performance reviews offer other important benefits -they help reduce the need for and expense of progressive disciplinary action, and offer a major source of insight into factors in the work environment that may be undermining the performance of a number of employees, or even the entire staff team.

If you require assistance with job descriptions, employee handbooks or developing a system for annual performance reviews, consult a Certified Human Resources Professional and look for the designation CHRP after the consultant’s name. Only CHRPs and lawyers are recognized by the Province as being qualified to provide professional advice about achieving and maintaining compliance with employment legislation such as the Employment Standards Act.