Work’s piling up. You’re worn out. Finally, you get the okay to hire. You’re pumped. Relief is in sight. Truth is: Employees are work. Actually, they’re your job.
Employees, especially new ones, mean that you’re faced with:
- Job orientation and training
- “What do I do now” questions
- Reluctance to make decisions when you’re not around
- “I didn’t think that was my job” disclaimers
So where’s your relief? You’re not totally free of the work you hired for, because it’s still in your head, and the people you hired to do it feel like an added burden.
Take heart. The time you invest developing your employees will deliver big rewards.
The biggest mistake is hiring people to complete a string of tasks. Look at your job descriptions. My guess is that they describe responsibilities, duties, and/or tasks.
If you want employees to lighten your load and add value to your business, hold them accountable for results. That means the tasks/duties they complete must be the means to the ends that you need.
Here’s how you link tasks and accountabilities (also referred to as results or outcomes):
- Process customer claims (task) within 48 hours, ensuring a positive interactive experience for the customer (result)
- Maintain product inventory (task), ensuring availability to meet monthly demand (result)
- Market services to clients (task), averaging 5% conversion to sales monthly (result)
- Complete administrative reports (task) within the first 5 days of the new month (result)
Employees need to know what they are expected to contribute to the success of the business. It’s not just about being busy doing tasks. It’s about doing work that counts.
The next big question, of course, is: “How do supervisors and business owners motivate employees to do their best work?”
Being “in” on things matters most.
Repeatedly, studies have been done on what motivates employees. We always think that must be money, but it isn’t. Actually, we all want to feel like we’re important enough to be in the know.
Supervisors who want to bring out the best in their employees share relevant information and make them part of what’s going on.
They can pump up the motivation and ability of employees to do their “best” when they:
- Engage employees in decision-making about things that will affect them (i.e., scheduling, work processes, equipment purchases, working conditions)
- Involve them in the root cause analysis of work that “went wrong” (i.e., customer problems, accidents, equipment failure, miscommunications)
- Ask them for ideas, innovations, and insights (i.e., new products, procedures, work processes)
- Give them visibility with customers, vendors, suppliers, and management
- Take them to see similar business operations in other companies or to visit departments they impact in their own company
- Give them business cards, reminding them that they are representatives of the company and impact its brand
Talk to your employees.
Reinforce each employee’s accountabilities monthly. That means a face-to-face dialogue about:
- how they are doing
- what they may be uncertain about
- how ready they are to take on more responsibilities
- what help they need from you, and
- what they can do to get better
This is where the two of you talk about your expectations and how you can support to each other. It is not a performance review; it a conversation.
Becoming the “best” is a team effort.
Setting the bar attainably high is the best thing you can do for your business and your employees. Employees who think they’re being set up for failure won’t make the effort. Those who believe their supervisor is counting on them to succeed will knock themselves out to deliver. If that isn’t the case, then that employee is the wrong fit and may need to move on.
Supervisors who use the smart moves for achieving business fitness with their employees create an individual development culture that delivers success all around. Nothing beats an employee team making it happen!
What approaches have you experienced that helped employees become their “best”? What made them work? Any cautions? Thanks.