How To Build A Culture Of Responsibility In Your Print Shop

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What differentiates top performing print shops from the rest? One key factor is building a strong culture of responsibility. Yelling at your employees or threatening them to perform better is not how you build that culture because it only breeds discontentment. Managing your people is not about being a stickler for the rules. It is about understanding and setting them up for success. If they fail, you fail. Likewise, if they win, you win.

Building a culture of responsibility starts with focusing on the following three areas in how you manage your business.

1. Set Clear Expectations

Before setting any expectations, there are a few important questions you have to answer first:

  • How would you define success in your business? 
  • How does an average day looks like? 
  • What can your employees reasonably achieve in a day? 

Your answers should help you decide how to manage your expectations. Otherwise, there is no clear way of knowing whether your business is performing well or not. Even as a one-person shop, having a to-do list to burn through for the day can help you to be more productive.

One of the easiest ways to establish expectations is with numbers. Set a certain amount of designs the designer has to complete in a day. Identify how many shirts you can pre-treat and print on your DTG so that you know you are optimizing your DTG. Using your own data can help to set expectations more realistically. When you can define how things should work, you are heading in the right direction on creating a culture of responsibility.

2. Simplify The Rules

This means you remove rules that over-complicated the processes until there is only one, simple way to do things in your shop.  Find out what works best for your business so that you can train your employees according to the SOP. It also gets easier to hold people accountable, since everyone should be doing it the same way. 

When deciding what works best, you can call in your team to help create your SOP. In your discussions, write down the rules and document the procedures in simple, clear language. Being transparent and authentic is key to make it work better. For different departments, have a separate set of documentation. Soon, you can build on your standard operating procedures to train new employees and review their performance based on the SOP. The culture of responsibility starts with making it easy to understand how things should be handled.

3. Staff Empathy

Good culture flourishes when it is based on empathy. For teamwork to happen, there has to be a foundation of caring for one another. It is hard to build a good culture when people are pointing fingers at each other and saying “it’s not my job” when something does not get done. 

When you view your employees as a work-family, you would go the extra mile to help them. You would reduce a lot of minor, petty disputes and seek a solution to solve the problem. This also means that you have to hire people who understand how to work with a team. Skills can be trained anytime, but having a sense of empathy takes time to cultivate. 

When someone knows what’s expected of them, and they have the right training to perform, that’s when speed and quality will appear. Then it gets easier to cultivate responsibility among your workforce. 

When breakdowns happen, pinpoint it back to the 3 points and discuss it among your team:

  1. Were there any lack of expectations? Was it clear for others to understand?
  2. Were the rules difficult to understand? How can I make it clearer?
  3. Was there any empathy among ourselves when problems occur?

Building a culture of responsibility takes time, effort and teamwork. When people start taking responsibility for their work, not only do they produce high quality work, your business will also flourish and grow as well.