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Any leader gives their business a greater chance of success by having strong collaboration and transparency as part of their culture. It allows everyone to focus on shared goals, increases trust across the board and gives the business a boost from different perspectives on problem solving and generating new ideas.

Sound complicated? Really it just boils down to getting a better understanding of what your teams are thinking. And while most of you probably feel you’ve got a reasonable grasp on what’s going on in your own businesses - from the small talk over waiting for the kettle to boil, chit chat at the last drinks ‘do’, or the more formal, regular management meetings held - how much do you really know?

Great leaders know that to really get a sprinkle of employee magic in their business, you need to delve a bit deeper than the standard communication channels, seek out feedback and really listen to what your teams are saying.

So challenge yourself now to take a few minutes out in the next couple of days and ask the following questions to your team members and see what meaningful answers you get:

  1. What blocks you from doing your job to the best of your abilities? Improving productivity could have a real impact on your profits. Your staff know what’s expected from them, but are you giving them the support they need? Maybe you could roll out a system that automates a trickier part of their daily activities. Perhaps you could introduce technology to cut down on the time that’s spent on certain tasks. Or re-route sign-off channels which just annoy rather than add any value. It’s about supporting your staff to be the very best they can be.
  2. How do you think we could improve the business? Sometimes, you’re so involved in your own business that it’s hard to see blindingly obvious. Every business wants to be innovative - after all, it’s hard to stand out if you’re standing still - and you give yourself a much better chance of doing so if you involve everyone who works with your clients and customers day in, day out, in what they really think your customers need. Not only will this give you some great ideas, but it gives a great boost to morale too.
  3. What are we doing within the business that is no longer necessary? Outdated systems and procedures could be costing you a fortune and ensuring that you play small. It could be time to ditch the things that aren’t working, and start moving towards the future. Your staff keep things running on an operational basis, so it’s likely that they’ve got plenty of thoughts to share.
  4. What are the areas of the business which interest you most? If you’re not nurturing your team’s need for personal growth and doing your bit to keep them motivated and on track, then a time will come when they start to look elsewhere. Understanding their ambitions and aspirations - as well as their strengths - will help you align these with a role that’s the best fit for them (internally or externally) as well as help your succession planning.
  5. How’s your work-life balance at the moment? Have you stopped to consider what your employees get up to outside of work and how this might affect their time? Time to relax and unwind is crucial to their well-being, so ask about your employees’ families, children, pets, and interests. How could you support them in striking an effective balance? Showing an interest is often greatly appreciated, and it could help you to get a better understanding of wider issues that are having an impact on your workforce.
It’s not an in-depth employee survey. But the chances are, that if you ask these questions, it’s guaranteed that you’ll unearth a sprinkling of gems when it comes to working out what makes your staff tick and how your business can be run better. You may not be able to use all of them, but if you keep doing this on a regular basis, you’ll soon see positive changes to both the culture and your bottom line.

By Claire Ward, founder of TheHRhub