Sunday, June 21, 2009

How To Improve Your Business

Employees can provide a plethora of ideas to improve their company. Sometimes, bosses are too self-important to realize this and they squelch any sort of effort on the part of the employee’s to make constructive suggestions. The boss then complains of having unmotivated, uncooperative employees.

Every year, after tax season, we take our team from Arrison & Olden out to a restaurant for a morning of conversation. Because it minimizes any extraneous interruptions, we do it offsite where we are in a better environment to be able to relax and give better feedback.

We discuss three basic topics; what went right, what went wrong, what can we do better. The team has the right to send the two partners (Andy and Thom) out of the room if they wish. This has never happened. So we spend the morning drinking coffee, eating pastry and breaking down the business. It is one of the most valuable times we spend together all year.

What are the benefits? First, we get great ideas for making next year better. Sometimes it means small changes, but changes that can have a big impact. We have had suggestions like getting electric staplers, or getting our tax return extension process ready earlier. Most importantly, team members get to feel that they are listened to and valued (which they are all year round). An added advantage is the chance to socialize, which we don’t get to do during the tax season. It has proved to be, year after year, a very positive experience.

We hire an outside executive coaching firm to run the meeting and keep it focused. For several years we have used Jan Stewart from Emerge in Littleton, Mass. She has done a great job of guiding the meeting, keeping good notes and providing valuable feedback. If you are thinking of doing something like this, I highly recommend Jan and her team to help you. For more information, Emerge’s website is:

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