Paul Beaumont column: Communicating with staff and customers

In my role as a hands-on business advisor and coach I often talk to business owners who comment that their staff don't really understand what the business is all about and where it's going '“ often this is interpreted as 'they simply don't care'.

This rarely points to anything other than a poorly defined or executed communication strategy by the senior management of the business.

Often these people are too busy working in the business to actually work on the business and communicating effectively is one of the first things that gets ignored.

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If staff are unaware of the plans and ambitions of your business you are missing out on a huge marketing opportunity as your staff talk to your customers and prospects on an ongoing basis.

Do they know about those new products and services that you are about to introduce?

Do they know how pleased your last customer was or why you have just been awarded that new contract?

Staff will leave a business for a more tempting offer if they don’t have the confidence and understanding of where their existing employer’s business is going and what opportunity and security that will provide for them.

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Would you rather spend 15 minutes once a month updating your staff or huge amounts of time and money replacing them?

Getting as many of the team together as possible once a month is a great investment.

If you diary the update for the same time every month staff can arrange to be there, if not in person then on a conference call.

Talk about how well the business did last month, the targets the business has for the next month and don’t forget those new products and services, contracts and happy customers.

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Whose ’s birthday falls next month, who’s got engaged, getting married or had a baby – these things help to bond the team and result in people feeling wanted, part of a team, which they will not want to let down in the future.

If there’s a number of people in the senior team” take it in turns to run the meetings and involve the staff.

This is a small investment with huge resulting benefits – believe me.

The Americans introduced the idea of every business having a vision and a mission.

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Many people see these as gimmicky but if they are done correctly they can be hugely informative, positive and motivational.

The vision for the business should be something that you share with your customers and highlights the aim of the business.

Apple did this brilliantly when they introduced their vision as “an Apple on every desk”.

I worked with a client who is looking to double his revenues in the next three years – the mission (which is for internal use only) is simple “£3m by 2018”. This is easy for all the staff to relate to.

Communicate carefully, strategically and often – it’s one of the most cost-effective things that you can do.

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