Do you work for yourself, by yourself? Are you the only person in your company? When was the last time you sat down with your staff and had a meeting? That’s right, I said when was the last time you sat down with your staff? “But Erin, I don’t have a staff. I’m self-employed!” Maybe so, but you still have a staff.
If you’re self-employed you know that you have to wear all the hats in your company. You’re the CEO, the VP of Operations, the Administrative Assistant, the Bookkeeper, the Director of Human Resources, the Marketing Dept, the Sales Force, and many more. How do you manage all those jobs? Or do they just all seem to roll into one? Is there anyone minding your sales? Your money? Your operations?
I’m self employed, and I realized recently that I needed to have a staff meeting. A real staff meeting, with all the members of my company. And I needed to give each one of them a chance to speak. So I arranged a meeting.
I sat down with myself and a notebook and called my staff meeting to order. There were dubious glances around the table. I told my staff I wanted them to report on how things were going in their department, their recommendations for the future success of our company, and what they needed in order to do their jobs better.
I started with my Administrative Assistant. She said, “We’re always running out of supplies, or they’re being swiped by the little people who periodically run through our office. I would like to have a much bigger supply so we never run out at crucial times. And I’d like it if your children didn’t steal the paper, pens, pencils, tape dispenser, and stapler. Trying to find them later takes up valuable time.” I made a note of her concerns and decided to help her come up with a way to secure our supplies and to make sure she didn’t run out.
Next I wanted to hear from my sales force. A representative there reported, “We’re waiting for marketing to give us ad copy for the new book coming out. Sales of your audio program are good, reading sales are good, and the trainings are also hitting their expected marks. We’d like you to consider an affiliate program. And maybe some joint venture deals. Otherwise we’re good, we just need more programs to promote. How about an event?” Noted.
I turned to Marketing. “We haven’t begun working on ad copy for the book because it’s not quite finished yet. When it is, we’ll turn our attention to it. In the meantime, we’d like to talk to you about setting up a weekly newsletter that’s shorter and more interesting instead of you sending out a newsletter sporadically that’s long and full of advertising. We think your readers would appreciate shorter but more relevant newsletters. We have some recommendations if you’d like to hear them.” I made an appointment to meet with Marketing later to go over their ideas.
Next to report was my Bookkeeper. She said, “All the banking is up to date, you’ve got plenty of money to support operations, and your taxes are all paid. We’ve begun putting money into your retirement fund. 10% of your gross. You should be able to retire in 50 years.” Eeeep! That’s going to need some attention! I thanked her and moved on.
Next on the agenda was Human Resources. The director said, “You have 8 weeks of accrued vacation. When are you going to Hawaii?” Wouldn’t that be nice? But my CEO hates when I take a vacation. “If you don’t use it, you’re going to lose it. At least take a weekend off and go to the beach.” I promised I’d try.
My VP of Operations reported, “You could use a bigger staff. We’ve made some projections and with all the projects you’re working on and with all the responsibilities you have, you could really use some help. Your new assistant, Brian, is doing fabulously, but even he can’t handle everything. Start thinking about outsourcing.” Done.
And finally it was my turn. CEO of this ship. Where am I going? Am I still on track? Am I still going in the direction I want to go? Is my ship sailing with the current or against it? Is life on this ship still enjoyable or has it become dull? What is my vision? Where am I headed? When will I get there? Will I like being there when I arrive? Do I need to adjust my sails? All good questions, which I answered in my notebook.
My staff meeting was over. I had a lot of food for thought. I was grateful to my staff for their time and attention, and for doing their jobs to the best of their ability. I made arrangements to spend time with each staff member to make sure they were doing their jobs and that they had support from me and the other departments.
If you are self-employed, how often do you check in with your staff? If you’ve never checked in, I want to recommend that you do so regularly. Weekly or bi-weekly meetings would probably work best. At least once a month.
Sometimes when you’re self-employed you get too focused on wearing one hat and ignoring the rest. But in order to run a successful one-man company, you’ve got to wear all the hats, consciously. You’ve got to set yourself up to succeed by making sure there’s no weak link in the chain. And the only way to do that is to take inventory of everything going on in your company and determining what is working well and what needs attention.
If someone on your staff is slacking, you need to take action. Get them some training or outsource their work to someone more capable. But don’t ignore problem employees.
Set up a staff meeting in YOUR company today.