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Instagram Q&A - performance issues, year-end help, communication 101, workplace burnout

On October 10th we asked small business owners "what finance, HR, Covid or operations issue is keeping you up at night?" Below are our answers to what our followers wanted to know.

Q: I'm having performance issues with an employee who is normally such a high performer. How do I manage this?

A: Changes in performance likely have an underlying story. Communication with the employee to understand their perspective and share yours is key. Some common things that could cause a change in performance include: personal matters, unclear expectations, or inability to meet new deliverables. Sharing some concrete examples of changes you’ve noticed is a helpful way to start the conversation and invite the employee to share what may be causing the change and find a mutually beneficial solution.

Q: My year-end is coming up and it always feels so overwhelming. How can I make it less daunting?

A: In preparation for year-end, there are small steps you can take now to make things less stressful. Some suggestions include:

  • Separate your business and personal accounts and credit cards, and be strict about not using business for personal and vice versa.

  • Look at and update your books regularly. It's much easier to remember an expense that happened 4 weeks ago than 4 months ago. Keep on top of it through the year.

  • Organize, organize, organize. Create ALL the folders. HST, corporate tax, bank reconciliations, credit card reconciliations, payroll ledgers, month-end, year-end, vehicle expenses, etc.

  • After you've created a year-end folder, USE IT! Put copies of any T slips, donation receipts, capital assets or disposals, leasehold improvements, professional fee receipts, etc. in there throughout the year. This will save you SO MUCH TIME at year-end.

  • Ask for help! You probably didn't start your business to be a QuickBooks pro. Focus your time and energy on your biz and leave the overwhelm behind!

Q: I implemented a new work process that seems really straightforward, but my employees can't seem to grasp it. I feel like I've communicated it over and over but they're still making mistakes. HELP!

A: If you feel like a broken record, it might be time to change your approach. Remember that there are many ways to communicate information to your employees - you know your business best so something straightforward to you may be harder for others to grasp. Some ways you can present the information could be talking through the process (auditory), presenting the information using PowerPoint (visual), or sending out a procedure manual for them to read (written). After trying a couple approaches try asking your employees what questions they have or what is still unclear. Acknowledging any mistakes in a respectful manner and approaching it as learning opportunities can also help them learn by knowing what not to do. If it is still challenging for the team to grasp, see if one employee understands it well and work with them to help train others - it may just be that you understand this so well from creating it that you’re having trouble communicating the basics.

Q: I can sense that one of my employees has been struggling lately with mental health. How can I support them without prying?

A: Work is such a big part of our lives that acknowledging and showing compassion to your employee could bring them a lot of relief. To become more confident in approaching a conversation with your employee, consider reading resources from mental health professionals, such as the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA). When you feel ready to bring this up with them, make sure you have a good amount of time available for a conversation. It’s important you show you’re open to listening and there to offer support. That won’t come across if you’re rushing them or preoccupied thinking of the next meeting you need to get to. Going into the conversation it can also be beneficial to understand what supports your workplace can offer and share these resources with the employee. Ultimately you may not be the one that can best support them during this time, but showing that you care and want them to feel their best can mean a lot to them.

Want other helpful tidbits of advice? Follow us on instagram @markleconsulting

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