- Kelly Sharp is the owner of Heart of Iowa Market Place in historic Valley Junction.
I wrote last month about the seven-year itch as it affects specialty retailers.
It happens when you start thinking there's something else you could or should be doing. Business owners seem to be prone to it when things are too volatile or going too smoothly. (What other options are there, really?)
Sometimes it’s seven years, sometimes it’s shorter or longer, but eventually it's going to hit. When it does, the itch can sap energy, excitement, motivation and satisfaction from the best of us.
As employers, we need to recognize that we're not the only ones who can get the itch. In fact, it usually hits employees much sooner than it does someone who is heavily invested in their own business.
Some employers think that's a good thing because it gets complacent staff and below-average performers to move along. I don't feel that way because I don't want and won't keep that sort of employee around in the first place.
The only way for a small, specialty retailer to succeed is by having top performers.
And that's when the itch becomes a real challenge.
When top-notch people decide to move on to another job, you know they're going to find something new in no time. As an employer, you don't want lose top performers. The best way to prevent that loss is to scratch the itch even before it's there.
I do that by remembering how crucial excellent employees are to the success of a business. My goal is to always treat employees as team members with unique skills and traits that contribute to our success.
Looking at new opportunities you can give your employees -- especially ones that fit their unique skills and traits -- helps to keep them from getting bored.
Delegating more responsibility to certain trained employees is important for two reasons. It takes some responsibilities off your shoulders so that you can do what you do best and it empowers them. Remember that the next time you think you don't have time to teach your employees new responsibilities.
It can be especially hard in small retail stores to find more things for your employees to do. As a result, they might fall into a routine and start to feel that itch.
The remedy: Talk to them and figure out not only what they like to do but what they would like to do. You just might find a hidden talent as I did with an employee who is very good at reorganizing the store layout and window points. (And think of all the time that skill set saves you.)
Finally, it's important not to get hung up on a job description.
Your employees shouldn’t be limited to the exact detail of the job description. If they mention that they are interested in certain areas, train them in those areas.
Validate their opinions and good ideas.
Engage them in everyday decision making while maintaining a smart employer-employee relationship. That involvement is important so they don't leave you for someone who is perceived to value their input more.
Scratch your employees' itches before they hit and everybody will feel better and achieve more together.