24 Jul 2023
Unlocking Your Team’s Potential: How to Improve Employee Performance in Your Small Business
Written by Doug D'Aubrey

As a small business owner, you know that your team is the backbone of your success. However, managing employee performance can be challenging, especially if you don’t have a dedicated HR department.

As an entrepreneur, we usually only manage employee performance when things are going wrong. However, finding time to be proactive will help boost performance and be a great asset in attracting top talent.

This article will explore practical and positive strategies to boost productivity and drive overall business efficiency, regardless of the sector, size, or resources.


One: Set clear goals and expectations

Give yourself the best start and set clear, achievable goals and expectations for each employee. You can include all this information in a detailed job description.

When everyone knows what is expected of them, they can align their efforts with the business objectives. You should ensure that goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). This will make it easier to monitor progress and provide feedback.

All targets, expectations and job descriptions should be documented and accessible to the employee. At each review, you can evaluate if targets have been achieved and if the job description is still appropriate.


Two: Regularly monitor and measure performance

Scheduling regular reviews will ensure you’re all meeting business expectations. While the focus is usually on the employees’ performance, this is also an excellent opportunity to see if any business barriers are preventing you or your employees from performing efficiently.

In these reviews, you should celebrate achievements, offer support to overcome obstacles and ensure business goals are aligned.

Again, document agreed actions or targets so that you can evaluate if targets have been achieved at the next review.


Three: Provide training and development opportunities

Investing in your employees’ professional growth enhances their skills and boosts their motivation and commitment. Consider offering training and development opportunities, whether it’s through workshops, online courses, or mentoring programs.

Empowering your team with knowledge and new skills will help them excel. In addition, moulding employees into a role and providing tangible personal development opportunities can be much more efficient than continually recruiting new team members and can be a great incentive when hiring.


Four: Real-world feedback

A positive workplace culture can significantly impact employee performance and job satisfaction.

You should encourage open communication, recognition of achievements, and collaboration among team members whenever possible.

Top tip: Create a structured format for reviewing company performance and celebrating team success. This can be a short monthly meeting where you can boost morale and provide a roadmap of business priorities for the upcoming month.


Five: Foster a healthy work-life balance

There is nothing wrong with expecting high performance and dedication from your staff; however, recognising the importance of work-life balance will reduce burn-out, sick leave and improve overall performance.

As small business owners, it can be challenging to remember that most employees aren’t as invested in the business as you – many work to live, not live to work.

Ensuring employees have adequate time to recharge and maintain a healthy work-life balance will help maintain performance levels and can inject new energy into the business.

Top tip: Remember to give yourself the same respect and to take time out of the business to recharge and refocus when necessary. If you struggle to take time off, plan holidays and breaks around bank holidays or in months with five weeks in the month.


Six: Provide Regular Feedback and Recognition

Feedback is essential for continuous improvement. You should schedule, and keep, time each month to provide constructive feedback to employees.

It can be easy to reschedule employee performance meetings, especially when they’re doing well. However, good meetings are just as important as the more challenging ones. Don’t underestimate the power of recognition. Acknowledging hard work and accomplishments boosts morale and encourages further dedication.


Seven: Lead by example and take ownership of your employee’s success

As a business owner, your leadership sets the tone for your team. Your work ethic and values will be matched by your employees.

Finally, as business owners, we only have so much time in our day, and controlling everything can be unhealthy and stagnate growth. Developing employees can be the best way to grow and grow sustainably.

Watch Bewdog CEO, James Watt share his discovery of how managing people more fairly changed the course of the business – and moved him from a ‘fishing boat captain’ to the CEO of one of the world’s most renowned businesses. People are now one of their primary focuses as a business.

Brewdog Founder: The Untold Story Of One Britain’s Fastest Growing Companies: James Watt | E157


How ETC can help

If you need help streamlining your business operations through employee performance management, please get in touch.

If you are new to ETC, why not contact us for a free new business review? We’ll spend two hours with you, giving you professional coaching and will leave you with actions for immediate implementation.