As an owner or manager, you should always be looking for ways to improve the way you work. But that’s only half the equation for a successful business. You also need to focus on areas of improvement for employees.
Granted, every business is different, and what works for one team (or employee) might not work for another. But there are some universal skills that everyone — and we mean everyone — can stand to improve.
In this article, the management experts at Sling show you 12 areas of improvement for employees and how you can leverage them to make your business more productive.
20 Areas Of Improvement For Employees
Unless you have the perfect employee on staff, we’re sure you’ll be able to find at least one area of improvement for each member on your team. Use these in conjunction with periodic performance reviews to make sure your employees are working to their full potential.
1) Time Management
Time management is crucial to your business’s success. Without it, few tasks would get done on time (if at all). That could be disastrous for everyone involved.
The best solution to this problem is to incorporate scheduling software like Sling into your daily routine. Sling not only helps you schedule when your employees are going to work, but it also provides a cloud-based to-do list with customizable deadlines and reminders that will keep everyone on task.
Organization can make time management much easier. When you and your employees are organized, you’ll know what needs to be done — and in what order — to get the task at hand accomplished.
Encourage your employees to create a daily schedule of the top three or four tasks (in order of priority) that they need to focus on. Then help them stick to that list until it’s finished.
3) Interpersonal Communication
It doesn’t matter if you manage a restaurant, a coffee shop, or a call center, you and everyone else who works there can all stand to improve interpersonal communication. Even if it’s just between team members, being clear and direct in what you say (without offending) will improve the way you work like few other suggestions on this list.
4) Customer Service
Good customer service is the cornerstone of every great business. Even if your business already has a reputation as a customer-friendly establishment, this is one area of improvement for employees that you can never spend too much time on.
One of the best ways to improve your employees’ customer service skills is to demonstrate it in all you say and do. Then encourage your employees to follow your lead.
Unless your employees work by themselves with absolutely no human interaction, they’re going to have to cooperate with others at some point. And for your employees to operate at their full potential and overcome the obstacles in their paths, they’re going to need the help and cooperation of those on their team.
6) Conflict Resolution
Conflict among employees is bound to happen even in the most well-adjusted teams. Sometimes, the stress just overwhelms and friction produces a flame.
It’s usually the manager’s job to put out the fire of conflict, but if you can train your employees to resolve their own disagreements, it will benefit your business 100-fold.
Effective listening — not just hearing — is essential for communication and the success of your business.
When you foster mature listening skills in all your employees, their productivity will increase, they’ll make fewer mistakes, and they (and your customers) will be much happier.
8) Written Communication
It’s true that technology has made communicating with others faster and easier. So much so that we tend to rely on it for everything. That technology, though, can’t make your employees’ writing better. Sure, it can help catch small spelling and grammar mistakes, but it can’t improve the quality and clarity of their words.
If your business relies on written communication, consider creating an internal style book for your employees to use when they’re composing. Make that style guide available to everyone (perhaps in the employee handbook), and then encourage your team members to refer to it whenever possible.
9) Learning New Skills
Unless you’ve got a perfect employee working with you (in which case, we’re going to poach him or her from you), everyone will benefit by learning new skills. Doing so not only stimulates thinking and creativity, but it also increases the employee’s value to your business.
With new skills, you can use team members in different capacities, and they won’t be a “one-trick pony” who is only good at one thing.
10) Goal Setting
To help your employees stretch and grow in the way they work, encourage them to set and strive to meet new goals.
A surefire way to help your team members reach their goals is to create an employee development plan they can follow. The development plan acts as a road map of sorts that shows team members the steps they need to take to succeed.
11) Accepting Feedback & Constructive Criticism
Feedback and constructive criticism are a critical component of improving the way your employees work. Without it, no one would know what they’re good at and what they’re not good at.
But accepting feedback and constructive criticism can be difficult sometimes. Especially when your employees are giving their best. Do your part to make feedback and criticism as painless as possible, but train your employees to accept the advice with an open mind.
12) Focus & Engagement
A big part of your job as a manager is to keep your team focused and engaged. But your employees can learn how to improve their productivity and work performance on their own. There are plenty of strategies they can employ (many of them the same as you would use) to keep themselves motivated and on track to succeed.
We all think we have patience. That is, until work gets difficult and we begin losing our cool at the smallest problem.
If you see your employees facing this situation more often than not, don’t despair. You can encourage them to improve their patience with a little practice.
When you feel like they might be on the verge of losing their cool, instruct them to close their eyes, breathe deeply, and slowly count to 10 in their head. This simple technique can help them restore their patience during even the most trying of circumstances.
Sympathy, in many ways, is similar to compassion toward another person.
If an employee is having a hard time accepting the behavior of a coworker during a difficult time in their life, encourage them to try to put themselves in the other person’s shoes.
Once they understand what their coworker is going through, they can begin to see things from a new perspective. This helps them see why their coworker may be distracted at work, making more mistakes than usual, or getting irritated easily.
Your employee will realize that these negative traits are not the new norm. The behavior is just a reaction to an extreme situation. Give them the space and support they need and they’ll return to normal soon.
Whether your employees are dealing with customers or coworkers, flexibility is an essential trait for all.
At its core, flexibility is about realizing that there are multiple ways to complete any job. It’s also about being able to adjust quickly to whatever circumstances present themselves.
For example, employee 1 may complete a task with a specific set of steps (e.g., A then B then C then D) while employee 2 may choose to complete the task with a different set of steps (e.g., A then C then D then B).
Employee 1’s way may be more efficient, but it’s the results that really matter, not the way you obtained them. Help the employee see that it’s the outcome that counts, and they’ll be more flexible about the process.
As to the second part of flexibility — adjusting quickly — it’s vital in business that your employees aren’t so set in their ways that they can’t deal with a problem that wasn’t on their to-do list.
There will always be issues that pull your team away from their plans. Encourage them to be flexible, deal with the matter, and then return to what they were doing before.
Working in a business — as an owner, a manager, or an employee — is all about trust.
Owners have to trust that their managers will guide the business to success. Managers have to trust that their team will do what’s best for the business, even without supervision. And employees have to trust that management will support them when work gets difficult.
Everyone can build trust by always doing what they say they’ll do and fulfilling expectations, no matter how difficult it may be.
When everyone in your company — from the bottom to the top — trusts each other, the work environment will be much happier, the customers will notice, and business will improve.
17) Interest In Others
Interest in others means connecting with them on a personal level. The easiest way to do that is by talking to other people and really getting to know them.
Help your employees convey genuine interest in others by giving them this three-step process:
- Ask a question
- Listen to the answer
- Ask another question
During the conversation, they should make mental note of names, dates, and important events in the other person’s life. This may require that they keep track of pertinent information (i.e., write it down) so they can bring it up later and ask more questions.
18) Good Judgment
Good judgment improves when you look at the world around you, listen to what others say, and learn from that information.
At first, good judgment may feel like an inborn “gut feeling” about what to do or how to react in certain situations. In many regards, this is true.
But your employees can improve their judgment by listening to their “intuition” while at the same time thinking rationally about why they feel the way they do.
Leadership is an integral part of all business activities. You need to exhibit leadership amongst your team. And your team members need to exhibit leadership within the group itself.
Some people are born leaders, while others have to work at it. Regardless of where your employees fall on that spectrum, you can improve their leadership by encouraging them to practice the following skills:
- Being a good example
- Giving praise where praise is due
Like all the other areas on this list, the more your employees practice the better they’ll be. So give them time to practice their leadership skills and you’ll see your business improve.
Honesty means telling the truth in good situations, bad situations, and when it’s not in your best interest to do so.
When everyone on your team is honest in everything they do, the way they deal with each other will improve and they’ll draw closer together. This, in turn, will foster trust and help them conquer any problem that comes their way.
Areas Of Improvement For Employees: One Step At A Time
Everyone in your business — including you — can improve on at least one skill from this list. In fact, you and your employees will probably identify several areas that deserve attention.
Don’t let your employees get overwhelmed if they find that they could, for example, stand to strengthen their positivity, honesty, and listening skills. They don’t have to tackle them all at once. Take it one step at a time.
Have them pick one skill they want to improve and work on it for as long as it takes to become habit. Then have them pick another skill and work on it until it becomes automatic.
Love What You Do
Whether you’re an owner, a manager, a team member, or all three, it’s vital to love what you do. If you don’t, it’s going to be difficult to generate the drive to improve. So find the joy in your job.
Once you’ve got that joy, it’s easier to identify your strengths and weaknesses. From there, you can take steps — or help your employees take steps — to learn, grow, and improve.
If you find it hard to carve out time for improvement, build learning blocks into your and your team’s schedule. Software like Sling makes this process simple.
Sling is a workforce management app with a heavy focus on scheduling, distribution, time tracking, and communication. Its core features include:
- Time Clock
The Sling suite of tools incorporates all of these features into a cohesive scheduling tool that helps you create clear, easy-to-read schedules that you can post to the cloud for convenient storage and distribution.
Sling’s on-board A.I. will even notify you when you’ve double-booked an employee or scheduled them to work during their days off.
This power and flexibility will help you find blocks of time in even the busiest schedule for learning opportunities to improve the skills mentioned above.
For more free resources to help you manage your business better, organize and schedule your team, and track and calculate labor costs, visit GetSling.com today.