Leadership Meetings: Keep Your Sops Alive & Grow Your Team!
By Jennifer Wolf-Pierson
Standard operating procedures, or SOPs, can be hard to keep alive. Where in your facility is your big binder with all of the how-to’s? Is it on a shelf, covered with dust? If it is, don’t feel bad—just keep reading!
The Importance of SOPs
First of all, you just can’t overlook the importance of having SOPs. Having them will benefit your business in all of the following ways:
- Create clear standards of cleaning and care.
- Clarify your message to both employees and clients.
- Aid in thorough employee on-boarding and training.
- Help provide consistency of care.
- Separate those staff members who “don’t want to” from those who “don’t know how to.”
- Provide documentation of policies and procedures.
- Increase revenue.
- Decrease expenses.
- Increase the value of your business.
Why Employees Leave
You need to know why people quit their jobs. My first thought is that they think of it as just that; a J-O-B. But the following list contains the top eight real reasons I believe people leave the companies they work for, which can be greatly affected and improved by SOPs (except for the eighth reason—a geographical change).
- Lack of trust
- Not being appreciated
- Lack of respect
- No growth opportunities
- Feeling under-utilized
- Poor managerial communication
- Lack of support
- Geographical change
Holding bi-weekly leadership meetings with your team helps you wrap your hands around two ever-present topics in our industry: consistency of care and staff retention. Team buy-in is the one way to gain control of both.
As managers we are given a unique opportunity to help shape our team members both professionally and personally. For these meetings, invite your full team—not just managers or supervisors. You’ll want to discuss three different topics: one topic from your SOPs, one topic about the business side of your facility and one financial topic that will help staff in their personal lives. Collectively, these will help you structure a plan to combat those other seven reasons employees leave their companies.
Policy or Procedure Topic
Pull an item from your SOPs (not a chapter and nothing too lengthy) and review it with your team. Ask, “Do we do it this way?” If it’s “yes,” then great! Go ahead and dig deeper; ask if there’s a better way. Or maybe their answer is “no” to the question. Then find out why! Are they missing the tools they need to execute the activity? Was that item missed in training? Is there a more efficient way?
Take the feedback and make changes. Even if it is small, make the change in the SOPs. Show your team that you want the feedback and that you will act on their suggestions. Your SOPs need to be a live document to adapt to the changes in current trends in pet care. If you give your team this power, they will fully believe in the SOPs; and if they believe, they will follow them! Opening up your policies and procedures for critique and change shows that you trust your team.
If the procedure or policy is not being followed, that doesn’t always mean you have an insubordinate employee. This solidifies your trust in their judgement, shows that you appreciate them and their feedback, respect their opinions, utilize their ideas and strengthens communication throughout the team. That covers six of the eight reasons that employees leave right there!
Help your team dream by giving them some tools to start thinking big. There is no greater compliment than helping another realize their own dreams. Some of your people may want to be business owners one day; others may find new, creative ways to positively impact your business. Don’t be afraid of giving away “trade secrets.” Each meeting, present a business topic, such as how to read an income statement, keys to develop a mission statement, what payroll taxes are or the importance of cash-flow.
Your team is likely doing the math in their heads: $30 times 100 dogs is $3,000, and they are comparing that number to their own wage. What they are missing is how expenses affect the bottom line. Educate them! To execute this, you do not have to have an open-book business. Take a few items from your P&L (same thing as an income statement) and talk with the team about its real costs.
Considering a remodel? Have them thumb through brochures of new enclosures with you and talk about the individual cost per room. Another topic might be that when it is 113 degrees outside, everyone needs to make sure the back door isn’t “accidentally” being left open—a perfect time to share the electric bill and ask for input on how to reduce the cost. Considering adding a new product or service? Discuss the opportunity costs and barriers-to-entry with the team as a whole. Make the decision together!
Again, you will find that sharing business topics that they would not otherwise be exposed to fills the need for all seven of the eight reasons people stray from a company.
Who taught you how to manage your personal budget? Were they a teacher or a parent? Unfortunately, you have team members that have not been given the tools they need to properly plan for themselves financially; whether it be a personal budget, managing debt, analyzing feasibility of a car note, or even how to start down the path to home ownership. We can be their mentors. To close the leadership meeting, discuss one of these topics and send them home with a simple worksheet to use to apply to their lives.
There are two types of employees: Those that don’t know how to do things and those that don’t want to do things. As a leader, you can’t fix the staff who “don’t want to,” but you have complete control in aiding those who “don’t know how to.” When you commit to lift people up personally, they will repay you tenfold. So, the next time someone is late because they had to take the bus because of car troubles, help them build a cash-flow budget for them personally. They probably wanted to be at work on time, but they don’t know how to make their ends meet paycheck to paycheck.
The desire for growth is not just a professional one; not everyone wants to climb the ranks and become a manager, but I guarantee everyone wants to be able to pay their bills on time. So, help them build a plan for a new car or home.
Spark your team’s interest, keep your SOPs alive and GROW your team! What’s stopping you? I know you want to, and now you have a tool to help you head in the right direction!
Jennifer Wolf-Pierson, CPACO is a certified pet care professional serving the Spring/Woodlands/North Houston area. Since 2016, Jennifer has served as General Manager at ABC Pet Resort & Spa and coach for Suzanne and Al Locker’s Pet Care Facility Management Boot Camp. The Boot Camp program, in partnership with Turnkey. Inc., a design, build and consulting group, has helped a wide variety of businesses get on track, from start-up to maturity. For more information on Boot Camp or Turnkey, Inc., visit www.petcarebootcamp.com or www.turn-keyinc.com.