In order to keep up with this dynamic business world, staying current on the latest trends and strategies is mandatory. You must constantly conduct market research — examining other business organization strategies and studying how they organize their businesses and staff for success while tending to client needs.

If you’re like me, you’re primarily reading articles to stay at the top of your game. Or perhaps you’re questioning employees on their idea of success and areas where company improvement can be made.

New methods are always exciting; however, there are seasoned strategies still proving to be relevant, and I’ve got some heavy-hitter businesses with strategies worth echoing.

If you’re looking to take your internal communications sky-high like Southwest or deliver five-star customer care like the Ritz-Carlton, advance your business by studying how these — and other — big names do it.

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Tip 1: Tap into the Matrix Organization Structure

As a business owner, your staff looks to you as their trusted advisor, however, stepping away from your tasks to handle every issue isn’t conducive to your schedule or the professional growth of your team. This is why many businesses look to the matrix organizational structure to enhance business performance.

The organizational matrix structure is the foundation that steers how tasks are done within a small business. It’s straightforward and simple, which allows for quick decision-making but also flexibility when needed.

This structure of running a business typically looks like employees within different departments reporting to multiple managers. Think of it from a football team’s point of view.

Each team has a head coach. In business, that’s the business owner who is overseeing the overall strategy. Under the head coach, there are several assistant coaches. Those would be the managers who are responsible for heading projects.

And right under them are the players each with their own specific skill sets — or in business, your employees.

While everyone has their own direct report, specific skill development plans and goals, they’re all working together for the bigger picture.

The reason this system works so well is because it:

  • Allows for a more flexible allocation of expertise
  • Encourages collaboration across teams
  • Improves trust, innovation and problem-solving

Philips Electronics successfully implemented the organizational matrix structure. In the 1970s, Philips restructured its company into four product divisions: Healthcare, lighting, consumer lifestyle and emerging businesses.

Each division had its own profit-and-loss responsibility, as well as several shared service organizations to provide support to the divisions.

With the restructuring, Philips was able to use the knowledge from the various teams to create innovative products and solutions, in addition to better managing research and development efforts.

While you may not be a business with a staff of 75,000 employees like Philips, utilizing an organizational matrix structure could still benefit your company.

Rather than organizing by department heads, place one person in a leadership position on each team and allow those leaders to manage their teams and report to you as needed. Empower them to work across departments rather than attempting to function in a silo.

Tip 2: Keep an Open Line of Communication Flowing

Communication is vitally important in organizing and building teams. Open and frequent communication among team members helps to build trust, enhance collaboration and promote a shared sense of purpose.

Effective communication also helps ensure everyone is on the same page, preventing misunderstandings and mistakes that can be costly for a small business, as well as identifying and addressing problems quickly.

Morning meetings, annual company retreats or meet-ups and training sessions are all great ways for teams to share knowledge and bond with each other.

One business that sets a great example for high levels of communication is Southwest Airlines. The company culture is centered on healthy, open communication.

Take a page out of this big-name business’s book by hosting daily huddles to touch base on any important news and ensure everyone is on the same page. In addition to reducing miscommunications, daily huddles:

  • Build a strong sense of collaboration
  • Foster a more positive work environment
  • Keep employees engaged
  • Provide brainstorming opportunities
  • Identify potential issues
  • Address roadblocks
  • Set clear expectations

Tip 3: Allow Employees to Be More Flexible

Your schedule runs your business more than you do. You make the rules, but your schedule brings money through the door. That’s why you should manage scheduling employees. It’s like a secret weapon.

One of the most important things to keep in mind when scheduling employees is to avoid overworking them. This not only leads to employee burnout, but can also result in decreased productivity and quality of work. During my time at Thryv, one of the greatest concerns is employee burnout.

You can work to avoid this by:

  • Offering frequent breaks
  • Encouraging your employees to take time off when they need it
  • Being flexible like tech company, HP

Hewlett-Packard Company, now HP, was the first American company to implement flexible scheduling for their employees in 1967. The change came after they observed that employees in the business’s West Germany location were less stressed following the implementation of flexible scheduling.

The change led to a boost in both morale and employee loyalty while costing the company little to do so.

By offering employees the ability to work flexible hours, you allow them to better balance their personal and professional lives, reduce stress and improve their overall well-being.

And the best part is that your company benefits, too. By allowing staff members to start their days earlier or end later, you are extending your business hours and creating the opportunity for more cash flow.

When you’re ready to offer flexible scheduling for your business, be sure to establish clear guidelines and expectations for employees. This includes setting core hours when all employees are expected to be available, as well as outlining how employees can request schedule changes.

Tip 4: Prioritize Your Service Standard

If you’re looking to build a team that takes your business to the top, create a culture of customer service throughout your company. When it comes to communication, provide multiple options for customers to easily reach out and connect with you, regardless of where they are or what their preferred mode of communication is.

When questions, feedback or complaints come in, either you or your staff should be responding promptly and professionally. In this case, be sure you’re setting clear response time expectations and ensuring that customers receive accurate and helpful information from the right internal contact.

It would benefit your company to go the extra mile and actively seek out feedback from customers to understand their needs and preferences.

The Ritz-Carlton is renowned for its exceptional customer service. Their trick? Personalize attention. The hotel empire anticipates and exceeds its guests’ needs and expectations. More importantly, employees are empowered to innovate how to enhance the guest experience.

Fostering a culture of exceptional service requires work.

  • Train employees to be attentive. What social queues should they watch for? Ensure they’re good listeners, responsive and empathetic.
  • Seek out opportunities to go above and beyond. As we say at Thryv, “under promise, over deliver.” Personalize your guests’ welcome or offer them complementary items while they’re doing business with you.
  • Fight for continuous improvements. Ask for and respond to feedback promptly. For the Ritz, that meant speeding up the check-in process. For you, it could be simplifying your business’s payment process.

By making customer service a top priority, your business can build strong relationships with your customers and create a loyal customer base that will support growth and success for years to come.

You deserve to have a company that runs like a well-oiled machine, and your team is the starting point. Lock in on these tips and tailor a system as unique as your business. And remember to carve out the time to evaluate your strategy and organize your plans for the future.

As Thryv’s Chief Legal Officer & Human Resources, Lesley Bolger is responsible for all aspects of Thryv’s legal issues, employee experience, including diversity and inclusion, labor relations, and staffing and vendor management. She also supports Thryv’s Board of Directors and leads multiple associated committees.

Modern Small Business Playbook

Modern Small
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