Small Business Owners Should Cultivate Expertise in their Employees
In an article which appeared on Entrepreneur.com, Jim Joseph related an unfortunate incident where, walking into a small business and seeing something he liked, was unable to get any information, even a price, on the object from the employee in the store at the time. Having no choice but to leave, the employee in question neglected to even offer a follow up with the information at a later time, not only losing the sale, but also leaving a very poor impression of the business in question, precluding any chance of the author going back at a later time. What small business owners should take away from this unfortunate incident is the high importance of communicating their expertise to their employees, in particular their sales associates, but really extending to every member of the business, all of whom play a crucial part in ensuring it operates with efficiency.
View skill sharing as an opportunity to increase the value of your business. When you neglect to pass on knowledge and skill to your employees, not only are you making it that much more likely that they will not feel invested in your business, performing less accountably, you also make it that much more likely that they will not know how to respond in the even that an interested customer interacts with them without a supervisor present. Conversely, when you build a strong base of product and business knowledge into your employee’s on the job demeanor, you can expect the proportion of happy customers to go up, since they will feel better served by the higher level of competence with which their questions and concerns will be addressed.
When you actively skill share, it can facilitate a strategy of promoting from within. When your business is open to promoting from within and actively takes the time to identify and groom future managers, you can foster loyalty and a sense of ownership in your staff. A lot of the time when employees feel like there is no room for advancement or that their roles are not appreciated in the business they work for, it can lead to a higher rate of turnover which in turn adds considerable expense and lost productivity to the already long list of things business owners must manage. In addition, through promoting from within you can cut out the costly process of courting management level employees, which, depending on the complexity of the role you are looking to fill, can be a time consuming process. An employee who is ready to be promoted to a management position will already know how your business functions, will know which subordinates possess the appropriate skill sets for tasks they need to delegate, and will no doubt have accrued a deep level of product knowledge in their time working for you.
The more skilled your employees become, the easier your job becomes as a manager. Small business owners who take the time to effectively train their staff to the point that they are increasingly self reliant are really doing themselves a favor by allowing themselves more time to manage other projects while trusting their managers to keep things on the right track. Training can accentuate the already present talents of your staff, and bring to light skills that you might not have known they possessed, eliminating the need to hire new employees to take care of extra tasks and freeing up time that can be spent strategizing the growth of your business.
Photo Credit to Carolyn Williams on Flickr