Stressed at Work?
As a Business Coach I run into a lot of business owners who suffer from far too much stress at work. Their people don’t do what they’re asked or paid to do. Customers make unreasonable requests. Friends and family call asking for deep discounts, are slow or late paying, and complain about the service they received. There are a million ways your business can stress you out and seemingly few ways to dig out from under the struggle.
Let me help. Here are ten things I’ve learned about improving your work environment and de-stressing the office.
- Create an organizational chart that outlines the chain of command for everyone. To back it up for yourself, attach a job description and a job listing for each position along with what competitive salary should be for that post. Part of the reason stress lives in the business is a lack of understanding of everyone’s place in the structure. Clearly defining this for everyone may ruffle feathers at first but once everyone plays their role, problems can be stopped at the proper level.
- Create detailed job descriptions and communicate them to employees. You’d be surprised how many folks in your organization don’t clearly understand what is and isn’t their job. Once you can get people to understand what their job truly is, you begin to eliminate redundancy and gaps in the workflow. Many problems occur simply because two people thought the other was going to handle it.
- Enforce set working hours. How can you run a business when people simply come and go as they please? Left to their own devices, people will eventually devolve to their truest self, which usually means less time at work and lower work performance. Working from home is justifiable for very few people. When people have to get dressed and show up they tend to be more productive and it give people who do show up, less to complain about.
- Enforce the rules you set. So often the boss will make a rule and then fail to enforce it. This causes confusion and dissension in the ranks. If you’re going to make a rule, be sure you can enforce it before you publicize it or just don’t do it at all. A rule created to prevent a problem in the future only leads to a lack of respect for you when left unenforced.
- Be proactive in scheduling your time. Not only should you schedule your time, you should keep a running prioritized to-do list of things to fill empty space with. Failing to do this generally results in you reacting to everything that comes along rather than turning people away so you can stay productive and intentional with your time.
- Do what you love and what you have to or should do, delegate the rest. If we paid you $100/hr to be the CEO/Owner of your business, what things occupy your standard day that you’d never pay a person $100/hr to do? Train someone else, hire someone else, outsource it to someone else. You should be spending your time devising new systems, making new strategic relationships, improving your revenue stream and profit margin, not getting bogged down in the daily minutiae. Delegate everything you reasonably can, then rededicate that time to improving your business.
- Review your Profit & Loss statement, Cashflow Report, and Balance Sheet at least weekly. And understand them! Know the relationship between them. Understand what is on each of them and why. Ask questions when something looks too big or too low. Renegotiate insurance costs and phone plans and cable rates and internet rates. Renegotiate your merchant services. Compare gasoline usage on your vehicles. Look at all recurring costs and ask how they can be reduced or eliminated.
- Review bank statements and credit card statements. I don’t care if your dear grandmother handles all your finances for your business. I’ve seen it all and I’m telling you that you need to review these regularly. Ask questions. Double check a sampling of expenses to ensure they are legitimate for your business.
- Create and enforce a “No Drama Workplace” policy. In his book, EntreLeadership, Dave Ramsey says one thing he insists on is that there be no Gossip in his business. He’s very clear that it’s a firing offence. Gossip and the resulting drama, along with inter-office relationships, hiring friends and family, fraternization and other unduly familiar relationships among staff and leadership only serves to undermine the effectiveness of the organization. Be the leader. Set the standard. Set a good example. Do it today.
- Put a beginning and an end on your day. Get to work on time, dressed for success, ready to face whatever you have to, get it done, and go home. Whatever your working hours should be as the leader of your organization, set them and live to them. Anything over 10 hours results in diminishing returns. If you’re complying with all the above suggestions, you should be out of there and living your life by a reasonable time. If you’re not, maybe you need someone to help you with that. You deserve it, your family deserves it, your business certainly deserves it.
- 10+1. Here’s your bonus tip. Get yourself a coach. I know, it’s a little self-serving, but an actual Professional Coach with real experience and credentials has been specifically trained to help you with all this and much more. He has the experience and perspective of working in hundreds of businesses and seen all the problems and knows which solutions will work best for you. The often-painful learning curve of running a business can be cut short or even eliminated with a good Professional Coach and the benefits of greatly accelerating your growth and improvement can literally take years off achieving your goals.
Obviously this isn’t an all-encompassing list of solutions, but it’s a good start. Putting these in place will cause some angst depending on how far out of kilter your place is already but I promise you, it will be much better in the long run if you stick with it. Consistency is the key. As I mentioned, never set a policy you’re not going to enforce. But if you can do it faithfully and durably, your stress levels will go way down and you will start to enjoy your business again. Guaranteed!
Dave Lakin is a formally trained and certified Executive Coach and a licensed Program Management Professional (PMP). He's a retired Navy Chief with over 30 years of business experience in and out of the Military. Dave has coached over 200 small business owners one-to-one (thousands through public speaking) and helped transform businesses to achieve higher profits, greater efficiency, improved leadership and get back time to live life like true entrepreneurs.
"A New Way To Do Business"