Hi there. The Zimbabwean lockdown has since been lifted and people are starting to meet physically. So, we thought its best to talk a little about professionalism in the entrepreneurship & SME space because over the years, we have seen quite a lot. Firstly, there is a culture of being too casual being displayed in this space and it goes beyond just the business premises but also with customer interactions.
Professionalism is the term used to describe a certain standard of behavior, with a somewhat specific level of competence and adherence to that standard. It includes showing respect for others, taking responsibility for your work and performing according to a certain job description. We will focus a bit more on the last part for now, the job description.
Yes, in a small organization or SME, operations tend to be very dynamic but it’s still important to have a starting point as to what are the tasks each employee has. This can then be updated as time goes by. This is important because if each person knows their role within the business, things tend to fall in line much easier and hence a certain standard of professionalism is achieved. This job description is found within a contract of employment which also details the working hours & days, and the manner in which each employee is expected to present themselves within the work environment or on behalf of the company.
Now the code of conduct is different from one business to the other for obvious reasons. It’s best if it’s prepared together with the employees so as to get their buy in when implementing it. The code will emphasize the importance of arriving to meetings on time, dressing practices, the use of polite language and the importance of treating of all people with respect regardless of their role, gender or religion. The business will have to decide what’s important for it and its employees. When we say employees, the business owner is included. They are not exempt from this code of conduct.
So, what needs to be done? You need to create a code of conduct that guides all persons on how to act within the team and with clients from appearance, communication and responsibility (also highlighted in the employee contract). Create a culture within the business that has a moral compass, this influences a wide spectrum of areas such as teamwork, decision making etc. Also, when onboarding new team members, they are walked through the code of conduct and also sensitized on the culture and values the organization has. This is possibly how you can avoid “bad” employees; it starts with the onboarding process.
Refresher trainings can also be held with the team so as to ensure everyone is up to speed and benefit from the several advantages which include but are not limited to:
• Reduce cost by building customer & employee loyalty and acquisition of new customers will be easier
• Create a more positive image for the business which can attract more customers and good talent. This also creates a brand value
• Attracts more investors thereby increases its operations & profitability
• Retain good employees by creating a conducive work environment that is built on trust and support
• Employees develop positive relationship with their co-workers thus increase productivity
In conclusion, the business owner needs to be a good listener, an empathetic listener. Be it with employees or clients. The employees themselves, need to adopt this as well when dealing with each other and with clients. Which also brings out the importance of having customer care trainings that teach them, amongst other things, how to deal with difficult customers. Until next time, stay positive and stay innovative!