Steps to improve SME productivity

Michael Jenkins, chief executive of leadership institute, Roffey Park outlines six positive actions that can help ensure you and your business continue to perform and prosper.

Conduct regular appraisals 

Monitor the latest developments associated with appraisals, in particular looking out for any technological innovations that could take the pain out of the appraisal process. Here it is important to appreciate that appraisals are not a ‘tick box’ exercise and instead should provide a firm basis on which to make fair decisions relating to reward and recognition.

Reward performance in ways other than just salary

To even begin to do this, you need to review your existing reward and recognition system. Think of ways to thank and reward people within your organisation who are performing and achieving targets. Could you introduce spot bonuses for going the extra mile, enabling you to say ‘thank you’ and showing your genuine appreciation? When it comes to reviewing reward and recognition systems you might want to hire a specialist reward consultancy to help think things through.

Appreciate the difference between the generations

Take a few moments to conduct a simple ‘generational audit’ of your organisation. What are the demographics? What trends do you see? Next, take some time to research and read up on the generational differences, but not only those between Generation Y and Generation Z – there are other generations that you need to consider, including Generation X and Baby Boomers. There are inherent differences in the ‘psychological contract’ between the generations and what motivates them to come to work and engage with the organisation. Understanding this will enable you to adjust your leadership style and overall approach to take account of different generational expectations.

Value the contribution of older workers within your organisation

As part of your ‘generational audit’ you should also remember the wealth of experience offered by older workers and make efforts to involve them in the recruitment and mentoring of new recruits. At the same time, think about reverse mentoring, i.e. younger staff helping older staff with social media, for example, as well as the active involvement of old and new staff members on selection panels and recruitment drives.

Engage employees by regularly seeking their views, ideas and involvement

Ask yourself what you can do to enhance communication and develop engagement in a way that suits your individual organisation’s experience and circumstances. Can you communicate with them more clearly and more regularly? Do you know what is keeping them awake at night? And have you got an action plan that can address any specific concerns or put any of their ideas and suggestions into practice?

Equip yourself or your managers to have challenging and supportive conversations

Reflect on what it will take to develop a culture of coaching inside your company. What are the skills or behaviours required by your managers to take this approach to personal and team development? What existing resources and skills can you leverage and what external support might you need to commission?

SMEs need to ensure that their managers are equipped with the capability to conduct regular and effective conversations with staff to review performance and identify career development opportunities. Developing the coaching capability of managers and providing in-house mentoring programmes are effective approaches to supplement on-the-job learning.

You also need to ensure that you provide opportunities for staff to be ‘stretched’ and to work on challenging, complex projects, which can be aligned to creating opportunities for employees to share knowledge whilst also building team cohesion and helping to drive continued productivity in your SME.