Do You Join Your Staff on the Shop Floor?

Do You Join Your Staff On the Shop Floor?

We’re all likely to cheer when we hear of excellent members of staff doing well, being promoted and moving upwards into more senior, management roles. It’s encouraging when we see good staff being rewarded for their abilities and given opportunities to share and mentor others to be equally successful.

Then there’s the sole trader who works hard and does so well that some of their work needs to be outsourced or extra staff need to be hired. This can result in them becoming increasingly detached from their customers and the day-to-day workings of the business. Whilst it’s exciting to see businesses being recognised and growing, how do they continue to keep in touch with what’s happening at the grass roots level?

It’s always good to do well, be recognised and receive the associated rewards and respect, but it’s also important not to lose sight of your original vision and remain close to your core business. Your front-of-house, customer-facing staff are the cornerstone of your brand. Something has to be sold, whether it be goods or services, in order for trade to occur. Money has to change hands for a business to thrive and grow.

So, how do you keep in touch and continue to join your staff on the shop floor?   

Showing consideration and respect for your staff and their issues is an important way to join your staff on the shop floor, especially as they return to work after an unprecedented two years. Many may now have revised priorities, feel differently about work and career progression. Some may even be apprehensive about returning to a full-on work environment.

Many business owners who started from scratch did it the hard way, learning every aspect of the business, as they tried to do everything themselves. Even as they grew, some still continued to maintain a reasonable level of involvement, spending time ‘on the shop floor’, perhaps one day a month, working in the different areas of their business, keeping up-to-date and familiar with their skills, dealing with challenges and developments as they occurred.

That level of involvement may not always be feasible, so intermittent walkabouts may be a positive option, where the business owner or manager selects a site to visit, maybe incognito at first, to assess how it runs operationally. Some top businessmen are well-known for doing this; chatting to staff at first undercover, then following up with discussions to address any ideas that may have been floated to correct and improve efficiency, often coming away with some extremely valuable suggestions.

Staff can feel incentivised to contribute ideas to improve the business when there’s a suggestion box, especially if it’s linked to a rewards scheme. Some companies reward staff by choosing an employee of the week or month, which may simply mean that the best suggestions or staff members have their photographs displayed in reception. For others, there may be a monetary value attached for the best ideas, like a bonus payment, or maybe they’re given the opportunity to implement their suggestions, encouraging them to take responsibility, use their initiative and subsequently receive any relevant credit.

An effective way to join your staff is by having an open door policy which allows them to share their thoughts and feedback in a mutually respectful way.  Staff assessments and appraisals are a good way to connect with staff, getting to know and understand them better, linking in with their aims and the possibility of providing training to develop their potential.   

By demonstrating compassion, understanding and empathy you can maintain good relationships with your staff, connect with them in a human way and develop mutually accommodating exchanges. You become attuned to their issues, aware of any changes in their behaviour or emotional state. You notice if they’re experiencing poor concentration or work performance, have close enough channels of communication to be able to sensitively discuss any increases in sick leave, absenteeism or poor time keeping.

Everyone benefits when potential problem areas are dealt with promptly. Early intervention provides the opportunity to explore remedies, like flexible working hours, working from home if viable and the introduction of appropriate structures that allow staff to feel listened to, supported and valued.

These are ways to reassure your staff that you’re all on the same team, understand their fears and concerns and are focussed on a positive outcome. You remain connected to your staff in a way that’s important to them. Even as you’re successful and grow it’s possible and beneficial to continue to join your staff on the shop floor. 



Susan Leigh, Counsellor & Hypnotherapist