You don’t need insurance statistics to tell you that stress levels are rising. Whether you are a business owner or a member of a growing firm, stress is part of your job description. Unfortunately, stress is not only a health hazard, it’s a business hazard leading to more sick days, greater turnover, lower standards of output and less creative energy.
There are two critical tasks for long-term business success – servicing your expanding client base and continuing to market your business.
Unfortunately, all-too-often in high stress situations, one suffers at the hands of the other. Either marketing efforts are diminished to attend to existing clients needs or clients are dissatisfied because of the low standards of service delivered by your company.
There’s no way to eliminate stress entirely from your workplace but there are things you can do to bring down the pressure levels at least some of the time.
Absolutely critical. The busy businessperson better have a client relationship management system (CRM) and use it. Even a simple CRM enables you to track workflow, manage email correspondence individually or within groups, track appointments (with detailed notes) and maintain numerous task lists to track your work activity.
Poor scheduling is a major cause of workplace stress. Too much to do, not enough time. It builds up inside you and co-workers, and has a corrosive effect on your ability to deliver the highest grade of services to your client.
This should be a big part of the owner or managers job – forecasting workflow. Working alone, you know what’s in the pipeline, you know your current workload and you know when to pull back a bit – or maybe hire an assistant for help with some of the routine paperwork.
However, it’s not just a matter of forecasting workflow. Work has to be allocated, tracked and ultimately delivered to the client. The good manager knows the professional strengths and weaknesses of individual team members and assigns tasks to the most appropriate individual in the office.
Whether the communications are intra-office, or outside calls from vendors, clients and other business colleagues, a communication system will help track incoming and outgoing calls.
As the team leader, it’s up to you to be fully engaged in all telephone communications in order to identify workflow pinch points that are going to create problems (read work stress). There’s the unexpected job that needs to be completed by Thursday as a special favour to your best client. You can’t say ‘no’ to your best client.
There are telephone time-wasters. Think about it. You have clients from whom you hear once a year. Then, you have the ones who call weekly. High maintenance clients!
Many small to medium business owners report that 80% of their time is used to attend to 20% of the client base. Seems a little out of whack. If you’re a sole operator you know who those time wasters are and you probably still treat them with the same respect and courtesy you employ with low-maintenance clients. Taking the good with the bad can be a recipe for disaster.
(continued in Part 2)