Do you ever wonder what a business owner or manager should be spending their time on?
When you look out in society - in books, movies, tv and social media, you see many examples of leadership. Some of them are good...but most, if I'm being honest, portray a pretty poor or wrong-headed idea of what a leader should be.
The essence of being a good owner is knowing and caring about what is really going on.
When was the last time you spoke to your most junior employee?
Do you know what really happens in the office when you're not there?
This week on The Six Figure Biz Show I'm sharing a simple strategy anyone can use to manage a team more efficiently, and really get to know your business well enough to make the right call every time.
So, as always, let’s pull this problem apart.
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With every episode of The Six Figure Biz, I like to empower you with a POWERFUL free resource that goes with the episode which you can implement right away to create some of the same results, if not better, in your business.
This week, since we are talking about inspections which can occasionally uncover employee mistakes and wrong-doing, I put together a Troubleshooting Employee Behavior Guide so you know the best questions to ask your team.
After going through this freebie you will be able to ask the correct questions from your employees and team so you can get to the bottom of how they are acting and resolve it.
You can download it right away by clicking on the button above 👆
Before we dive into how to use this strategy or why it's so great, let’s identify what an executive inspection ISN'T.
Inspecting the different areas or staff of your business ISN'T about catching them out and punishing them.
It ISN'T about puffing yourself up or making you look good as the 'boss'.
The whole purpose of the inspection is to:
The fact that you might also catch someone doing something wrong is almost beside the point.
In fact, I can tell you from personal experience that a business owner or manager who goes looking constantly for wrongdoing often causes more of it to go on.
You have to be able to see and expect goodness to find any!
So let us begin.
The first thing a business owner or manager ought to do before embarking on an inspection is to understand the purpose of each area of the business.
If you’re not familiar with what an area is supposed to look like, how it should look when running perfectly, and what it’s supposed to produce, you can make a LOT of mistakes in its leadership.
I remember going around on an inspection one time with the owner of a healthcare practice.
He was a fantastic doctor - highly trained. But he didn't have a business degree, or any business background. And so things that didn’t really matter much stood out like a sore thumb to him, while in the same breath he ignored the important mistakes his team were making.
For example, if your receptionists are being very chatty with each other - sharing jokes and laughing...but they’re ALSO getting their work done, there’s no point in reprimanding them.
It will only lower their morale and prevent teamwork. After all, do you really want a company culture of silent gloom??
But conversely, when serious activities are being neglected because the team member responsible doesn’t like doing them - that is the sort of thing an executive inspection should catch.
Here are a few other rules to follow:
Whatever you find, addressing it appropriately with the employee is vital to the growth and success of your business. Download the Troubleshooting Employee Behavior Guide for more tools and tips.
Alright, now let’s discuss what you are looking for when you do an inspection.
When conducting an executive inspection I always enter to room or space from the back if possible. This gives you the opportunity to observe the space and people quietly for a moment without interrupting.
Note the general emotional state of the people in the room, as well as the cleanliness of their spaces.
Emotion is a clue as to what is going on, and also to the general productivity of a group or person.
A highly productive person will tend to be more cheerful and satisfied than one who is unproductive or only busy without any real accomplishment of worth.
When you observe anger, resentment, grief or any other non-optimum emotion - your task as an executive is to get to the bottom of it. Never let a bad sign like that go unnoticed or unremarked.
If it’s a personal reason, leave it alone or recommend the employee take 10 to get their head back in the game. If the reason is related to their tasks, helping them sort out the barrier or frustration will lead to a more productive team.
Cleanliness is a relative term but an important clue to the productivity of the group or individual.
Areas that are too clean may indicate that little to I work is being done!
But a filthy space, stacked dishes or food stains, tools and equipment not put away when finished is a sign that the person may have no pride in their work.
This might mean nothing - perhaps the person simply had a lazy childhood, or it can mean that the employee is guilty of doing something that lowered their morale and sense of pride.
Only when combined with other signs of guilt - such as harshly condemning management or fellow employees, sudden departure, etc., should this be pointed out or acted upon. But it is something for the executive to be aware of.
Once you have observed the general vibe of the room, approach one of the employees and begin your discussion with the question:
“What are you working on?”
Note the tone of voice; it’s not, “What are you working on!!?”
An accusative or harsh tone can get the inspection off on the wrong foot and fluster the employee.
You should also note that it is important throughout the discussion to insist upon INSPECTION. In other words, ask to LOOK at what they’re doing, don’t just listen to their explanation of it.
Ideally, an executive would be an expert in the area he supervised, but if you are not - have the employee explain the step or task. Never pretend you understand it or accept an explanation that makes no sense to you.
When inspecting what they are working on, there are certain illogics you are wary of.
Tasks taking too long, added inapplicable steps, or omitted steps and information - to name a few.
Look for opportunities to improve efficiency. Signs the employee may need further training or drilling to improve performance, and yes - look for mistakes, violations of policy or procedure, and signs of laziness or wrongdoing.
But overall the inspection ought to be an uplifting experience for good employees. They should know and feel that you’re here because you truly care about them, their efforts matter to you, and you want to know what is really going on.
Next, ask them if there is anything they’re running into or if they need any help.
Remember, this is not the time to pitch in with your own two hands unless it an emergency, or accept problems with no proposed solution.
But listen and acknowledge - make the employee feel understood, and if you feel it is necessary - issue orders for a resolution, either to the supervisor, for training, or to authorize the employee to take action themselves as the circumstances demand.
By doing this activity in each area of the business or to each employee in a small business once or twice a day, an executive gathers the information they need to get their job done.
Being an executive isn’t a desk job - no matter what the movies say.
And an executive who only reads reports about what’s going on or listens but doesn’t observe their company will make a lot of mistakes.
I hope you found this episode helpful!
As you go about your Executive Inspections, you may find mistakes and wrong-doing by employees. Take a look at the Troubleshooting Employee Behavior Guide to help you become a better manager.
Sarah Nicole Nadler is a business + balance coach. When she’s not serving her clients, she geeks out on board games, fantasy novels, and explores the great outdoors with her husband Ben. A digital nomad, she currently calls Tampa Bay, Florida home.