by Rotimi Ismail, Managing Partner at RS Hunter Limited, June 22, 2016
In almost every relationship I have been involved in, the phrase “It’s the little things that matter.” has probably been one that has been used time and again. As a young child this could be understanding the value in asking my father how his day went, or showing how much I appreciated the meal that my mother made for me. As a teenager, just making up my room or taking time out to help with the chores around the house were some of these little things. The impact or effect of this phrase on whoever was saying it to me was obviously huge, and to them it was a big deal.
The workplace is not so different, as a matter of fact I have discovered that to be successful at work or in business the little things really are the big things. Here are some examples of little things that could make a BIG difference:
As an Employee
How often do we find ourselves overwhelmed with tasks, such that we start to feel that our managers need to be a bit more compassionate about the volume of work thrown at us? How many of us use our task managers or to-do lists daily for some more structure? Sometimes it is easier to have conversations with our managers when we know what we have planned for the day. Doing this may just earn you the respect of your supervisors.
Do we know what is going on in the business outside of our specific roles or maybe in the industry apart from who is hiring? Keeping informed allows us to have meaningful conversations, sometimes bumping into the CEO or one of the company directors could make the difference in our careers, a simple conversation that shows you are connected to the business beyond your regular job could well earn you the recognition you have been looking for. Think back to the last time you sought to know how other departments benefited from your department and what you could do to support them.
How often do we refer to our Job Descriptions/Key Performance Indicators/ Role Expectations? This is easily a 5-minute activity that could be carried out at any point in the day to refresh and re-align yourself with your job and what the business expects of you.
What are the peculiarities of your work/business/industry environment, do you take time out to observe the things that make your environment unique and how can you add value?
As an Employer
How many employers clearly communicate their expectations to employees? This ranges from articulating the corporate vision, culture expectations and values to setting clear performance standards. Most employers in one form or another know these things, the problem more often than not is communicating them at the right time. As long as you have started a business you already have a rough cut of these. If you are a small business owner, this means making out time to talk to your people about what is important. For larger organisations, maybe it’s time to empower your HR Team by supporting the people/culture initiatives from the front.
Most organisations invest in tools that provide support to the employees for greater effectiveness and efficiency, however in some cases the people may feel like they are not being carried along on the ride to success. How often have we made promises of a brighter future to our employees only to cease communication when the time comes to fulfill such promises? Keeping a promise is possibly the most difficult thing to do particularly in a volatile economic climate, however we can earn the trust of our people simply by making sure they are kept in the loop. Courage in leadership is often tested in adversity and the results of courageous leadership rarely ends in the negative.
It has been said time and again that when we develop the individuals within a company we are inadvertently developing the organisation. Development is not only external training. It could be internal coaching and mentoring programs or online courses. These methods are not only affordable but also efficient if taken seriously.
Planning expenses is crucial to long term business success. While there are always ‘nice to haves’, it’s important that the urge to be spontaneous is resisted. Whether you are investing in people or other resources, always look closely at the figures and the intrinsic value. Avoid making fundamental financial errors at the beginning and if this has been done already, do not hesitate to correct what can be corrected.
In my experience, you will find that as you build on the valuable little things that you do each day, the bigger things will follow such as discipline, self-motivation, strong listening/communication skills, increased knowledge and the ability to relate with others. Don’t forget that there is no fast-track to success. Everything must start at the very beginning so don’t disregard the little things. Embrace them and they will definitely help you grow.