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Edition 233 – Slipping Standards

From time to time, amongst the different family business clients I work with, patterns emerge. The locations may be different, the industries unrelated, yet the issues can be the same. At the moment, the pattern is around slipping standards.

A number of family business owners in recent weeks have expressed to me concern that things are being missed by their staff. Most are minor, or certainly not major. All of it is leading to a build up of frustration amongst family business owners right now. The pot on the stove is simmering and the steam is just starting to escape the lid.

I empathise with family business owners that are experiencing slipping standards right now. Their main concern is that whilst one swallow does not make a summer, in a business world tipped upside down by COVID 19, if it happens with greater frequency or with greater impact, such issues could create a detrimental effect on the financial position and goodwill of the business?

However, should we cut some slack to the people inside our business where this might be happening? Rather than focus on the fact that an error has occurred, should we be asking “why has it occurred”? By why, I mean, what might be happening in their world that is contributing to an increase in errors? For instance:  

  1. COVID 19 has derailed their lives just as it has derailed the lives of family business owners and managers.
  2. Your employees might be home schooling their children, which is a heavier burden than you may actually think.
  3. Their partner may have lost their job.
  4. They might be worried about the security of their own job.
  5. One of their family may be unwell – whether or not it is related to COVID 19.
  6. They’re listening to not just what you say, but how you say it – and wondering if that is a “heads-up” on whether you’re more concerned about the future than you’re letting on.

I’ve long said that 80% of the reason why an employee is not happy in their job is actually nothing to do with their job. It’s all to do with the other 128 hours per week that happens outside of your family business. The same may apply in relation to slipping standards – something in their life outside your family business is troubling them, which is distracting them.

Here’s some questions for you to consider, as family business owners, which may help you address the slipping standards of your employees:

  1. What have you done to thank them for the effort they’ve put in since COVID 19 consumed our lives?
  2. Have they been working long hours or changed hours which has upset their life patterns?
  3. Do they need a Friday and Monday off to recharge the batteries?
  4. Is their tether a little frayed and maybe, they just need someone to ask them “how’s it going?” 

Right now, investing a little bit more in the welfare of our people may generate more than appreciation from them. You may find your slipping standards are, at the least, noted and potentially arrested. 

How are you?” may be the most important question you could ask your team right now.