On Friday, I started interviewing administrative assistants (mostly virtual) to start helping me in my business. It won’t be a huge amount of time at first (maybe 10 hours a month) and I probably won’t get them started until September 1st.
That being said, I was impressed by one candidate in particular. She actually took time to interview ME – to find out where I was with my business and where I wanted it to go. She told me plainly about the work she does want to do and what doesn’t light her fire. And she gave me some suggestions for a branch of my business that is languishing right now – suggestions I hadn’t even thought of!
After thinking about this a bit, I realized that we ALL need to be having these conversations. If you are a small business owner, gather your team. Schedule an hour, turn off the phones, and ban all email checking. Create a safe round table discussion and have a frank conversation about the work everyone is doing – this includes your receptionist, administrative assistants, and anyone else that works for you. If you’re all virtual, then schedule a virtual meeting.
Ask your team:
1. What are your top 3 favorite things to do here at work?
2. What are your 3 least favorite things to do here at work?
3. What is the goal of this company? What is your role in achieving that goal? (If they don’t have a clear answer to both these questions, then you as the business owner have some real homework to do…)
4. What is one way, in your opinion, that we could do things better or different around here?
5. Give me one new way to reach our customers.
6. If there was one thing that I could do to make your job better or easier, what would that be?
You might be very surprised at the suggestions and feedback you get – especially from your receptionist and administrative assistant. These folks can be first in line to talk to your customers, and many times customers feel more free to unload their frustrations on them than they would be to unload them on you. Take your team’s advice, comments, and suggestions seriously. Allow them space to contribute. Listen. And when they come up with a great idea, thank them for their contribution and give them a role in implementing any changes.
And when the discussion is finished, let the real work begin. And then let your team know this meeting will happen again in 6 months – where you’ll come up with more groovy ideas and give everyone on your team a voice in keeping the business successfully moving forward.