While not every issue can be foreseen or avoided, there are steps you can take to improve communication and promote better team work. A good amount of issues arise from miscommunication and unrealistic or misunderstood expectations.
Summer is often a time when firms hire interns, look at projects that were put on hold, complete mid-year planning, etc. This is a good time to check :
1 – Roles and Responsibilities
If you are ready to hire interns or employees, or are considering outsourcing work, now is a great time to look at the work flow in the office. You want to shape responsibilities around completing it effectively and efficiently.
Minimizing the number of hand-offs, the number o f decision makers involved, and the amount of time someone needs to reacquaint themselves with the work are all examples of increasing efficiency. Training someone who is already working within a particular process may be more efficient than handing off a responsibility to someone whose job title includes that task.
Review and revise job duties. Set aside time to talk with employees about expectations. This would include expected results and time-frames allotted to each task. Let employees participate in shaping these expectations.
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2 – Ways to communicate to different levels of supervisors and management
Decide how often briefings are needed with different levels of supervisors and management.
- What items should be covered? What does the supervisor or manager really need to know?
- Who leads the conversation on certain issues?
- What documentation should be provided?
- What determines the frequency and length of meetings? Should you have longer sit-down meetings or shorter stand-up briefings? Can the information be communicated by email, or some other way?
3 – Look at scheduling evaluations/progress reviews
Use common templates as much as possible.
List out roles and responsibilities
Define and use common rankings (i.e. Outstanding, Above Expectations, Meets Expectations, Below Expectations, Unsatisfactory).
List the “action items” for the next period and when the progress will be checked
- Address how the employee is meeting the objectives of each item.
- These can be short meetings set up to help direct the employee towards better work methods and results.
Try to make compensation reviews and performance reviews separate.
4 – Checking state websites
Check your state websites for the latest Federal and State labor rules and regulations.
5 – Create an “open door” policy.
Explosive or demoralizing issues can sometimes be avoided if the employee feels that they can approach supervisors and management.
Components of an open door policy:
- Why it is important to managers/supervisors to hear from each employee
- How information is handled
6 – Work Place Policy.
Every company should have properly worded Work Place Policies or an Employee Handbook. These give a clear definition of the work culture and can help attract or retain employees. Sample contents could be:
- Introduction – purpose, changes, about company, our employee relations philosophy
- Equal Employment Opportunity
- Job Duties and when Performance Appraisal schedule
- Employee benefits and time-off policy
- Harassment (Sexual and Other)
- Code of Conduct
- Workplace Safety
- Dress Code
Mary Dunlap, CFP®
Mary Dunlap Consulting