Here we are at the end of the year and, if your company is like most, you've either recently finished or are about to start the annual review process. Agonizing and tedious for both employees and managers, alike, the review process is intended to keep productive employees on course for growth and development, while warning less than stellar employees to shape up or ship out.
At small companies, though, reviews often go undone. The formal review process is eschewed in favor of on-the-fly corrections, admonishments and goal setting. For small firms, especially those with just a few employees, a formal review process is not only difficult to accomplish, it seems downright silly.
But, for the owners of those companies, the new year is a great time to do a little self assessment and resolve to make some changes in the new year. Even if you're inundated with work and constantly putting out fires, there are small changes you can make that will improve your operations and, most likely, your employees' morale.
Here are few things you may want to consider as you prepare you self-review for 2011.
Listening – As a business owner, hearing your employees complain can be really irritating. You wonder if they have any idea just how difficult it is to run a business. Despite this, your employees' complaints (at least the ones from your good employees) are really invaluable to you. They are the people closest to your operation and they are the ones most likely to see where you company's weaknesses are. Even if you feel their concerns are frivolous, it's important to really take their concerns into considerations. They're the only ones who are really going to tell you how it is.
Planning – Are you costing yourself and your employees unnecessary headaches by not planning ahead. There's no doubt that it's hard to plan ahead when you're constantly behind the eight ball, but your lack of planning is costing you money and causing everyone else frustration. No matter how urgent your immediate problems, you must take time each day, week, or month to plan ahead. Your employees and your customers will thank you.
Cleaning house – Are you saddled with less than stellar employees? How about dead wood customers who suck up all your time and energy and yet, somehow, never seem to pay what they owe you? Take the time this week to draft a list of who needs to go and make a plan for 2012 to get rid of them. If your company is like most, your problem employees and customers are keeping you from focusing on the people who can help build and grow your company.
Safety and efficiency – Much of the last few years have been spent trying to just survive the recession and, as a result, the parts of your operation that don't make money have not gotten the attention they deserve. Maybe it's time your company took a look at the backend operations that keep your company going but don't bring in the big bucks. While they might not be the stars of your company, you can't operate without them so make sure they have the support and funding they need.
Growth – A recent study found that many small business owners feel this is the year to grow their businesses – even if it means putting their company at risk. Has your company been stagnating for the last three years? Are you at risk of falling into an irreversible rut if you don't find a way to expand and flourish soon? If so, maybe 2012 is the time to plot your future growth. Even if you're only making small changes, it will keep your company vital and nimble.