Great Employees + Leadership = Awesomeness

It’s a tried and true formula for success.

But do you have it in your shop? I travel and go into many shops all across the country, and I can tell you that not everyone has the same level of greatness within their walls.

What separates the best from the mediocre?

It’s that formula above. The machines and computers in your building don’t run themselves. You need staff to compete. The level of talent and skill you employ really makes a difference.

But there needs to be some leadership thrown in the mix too. A captain has to guide the ship.

To that end, I thought it might be great to take a look at a few things you can do in your shop to promote effective performance and elevate your staff.

Start With Continuously Improving Your Team

Are you investing in improving your people? You should. They are the backbone of how things get done.

So when you have multiple people know how to mix Pantone 375 or set up an online store, you win. It can’t just be one person.

How does that happen?

It starts with dedicating the time to learn. I like to break out any training program into small 30-minute chunks. Make a list of the top things you have to know to learn that skill. Each one of those becomes a session.

Mentoring Program

Mentors are great. This is having a senior staff member work alongside someone else to push them along. Their purpose is to show them the ropes.

It doesn’t have to be a permanent thing either. A few months max.

Human to human connections always help in learning and adjusting to new surrounding and circumstances.

Career Development Program

In your shop have you defined how people can advance? Usually someone starts at a lower tier position, and over time works their way up the ladder.

So as they advance what should they know? What training should they get? When?

At each level in their career journey does the compensation improve? Perks?

Map it out. Everyone in this industry constantly complains about the lack of skilled staff members, but few actually have an internal training program that systematically builds the employees they need for the future.

Training Programs

Whether you are doing it yourself, bringing in suppliers, or sending your crew to a trade show seminar, training programs can have a huge impact on your team.

Acquiring knowledge of best practices is the best way to keep your business competitive.

The shops that have the biggest growth also have the biggest emphasis on training their team to get better. It is not a coincidence.

In your shop, how many of your employees got trained on something new last week? How many next week?

Lunch and Learn

It’s amazing what can happen during a lunch break sometimes. When was the last time you brought in a key supplier to review their latest offerings or a new decoration technique?

Over a few pizzas, you can discover new ideas that you can use to drop more money to your bottom line. This can happen by creating new sales opportunities or saving your company money somehow.

Not to mention plenty of industry organizations or companies have video series that you can watch too. Get a few of these slated and then have a discussion with your team on what they watched.

Reading is Fundamental

Does your shop have a book club or lending library?

There are so many fantastic books out on the market, it makes sense to get involved in building a program. Plus, industry veterans share their knowledge in blog or magazine articles constantly.

Are you getting this knowledge to your team?

Share and grow!

Regular Coaching Meetings

Having regularly scheduled coaching meetings with your crew is one of the best ways to eliminate friction and get “all of the canoes paddling in the same direction.”

One to one feedback helps. You can ask, “What are you struggling with” or “Help me understand this problem”.

Those discussions go a long way to bridging the gap between managers and staff. As leaders, your job is to elevate the performance of your team. Having direct, regular contact with them is a critical part of that effort.

Get Out of the Shop

When was the last time you took your team to a trade show? Do they have a big picture idea of the industry?

There are tons of great educational seminars they can take to learn, plus it’s a lot of fun to go by a vendor booth and meet the team that you chat with on the phone. The networking events are great, as you can instantly discover that everyone has the same problems and headaches. Plus, you get to hear how someone solved that problem you are struggling with right now.

If you can’t go to a trade show, what about a field trip? Hit the mall and check out the garments hanging on a rack. See a museum or art gallery.

Take the team out to lunch and discover what they liked the best. What ideas did that generate that they can use for a future order or decoration technique?

Benchmark Your Progress With Other Shops

How many shops have you been to besides the one you work in every day? When you only see one thing, it’s hard to imagine how other people do it.

Arrange tours of other companies and find out how they do things.

Thinking about a new piece of equipment? There’s probably someone not too far away that might be running it. Line up a trip and see it in use. Talk to their crew and find out what they like or don’t like about it.

But the best reason is to benchmark how other shops run compared to yours. What do they do? Are they better or worse than you? What can you learn to get better?

Everything Starts with Leadership

This stuff doesn’t happen by accident. It is 100% on purpose.

To that end, this means your shop leadership has to be constantly working with the staff on improving and setting up the culture of “better”.

In your shop who owns that?

If everyone simply shrugs their shoulders and nobody steps up, don’t be surprised when nothing changes or improves.

Remember, your actions reveal your priorities.