I loved Matthew Rock’s article this week on the 20 worst employee traits in the 21st century. It all rang very true to me, having battled with the gap of staff performance vs customer expectation over the last years to a point of near suicide. I could immediately identify key traits in staff now either departed or converted.
The customers do, indeed, expect more than ever and it is exceptionally difficult to put across to people that they need to change. It’s always hard to change bad employees into good ones but, interestingly, I have found it equally difficult to change good employees by old standards, into far better ones by current standards.
Therefore, I offer my experience and ten tips to change average employees into a workforce that will go at least some yards of the extra mile.
1. Designated jobsNot everyone mucking in is a motivator. People’s roles and the company’s expectation of them in these roles need to be clearly defined. It may seem obvious, but I found it useful to re-check everyone’s job descriptions and how they all fit together to achieve company goals and meet customers’ needs.
2. The staff need to really understand how their job affects others in the company and the future of the companyQuite possibly, you might not succeed in getting them to care about either of those. However, the next best is getting them to understand how their success or failure will affect the financial state of the company and, therefore, their paypacket.
3. Having the right people in the right jobWe often fall into the trap of over-promoting good employees and coming near to ruining them. There is no guarantee that if a person does exceptionally well in one job, they will like being further up the ladder. To do this, you need to know your staff: who wants to progress, who is happy where they are, their individual strengths and weaknesses and encouraging the use of their strengths.
4. Enabling people to do their jobThis may include training, providing equipment and ensuring the impacting performance of others improves. Whatever it takes if poor old Joe Bloggs feels whatever he does it is never going to work, he is going to give up trying.
5. Goal setting is vitalIt may take time but it is time worth spending. Without goals, people lose any sense of purpose or achievement. The goals need to be clear along with the job roles. The feedback on the goals is equally important – it takes two seconds for a manager to notice and praise an improved or high contribution, but it means the world to the employee. The other point about goals is that employees have to buy in to the way they are measured. Anything that could be inaccurate or unfair is a de-motivator.
6. Rewards are vital but they don’t have to be all about moneyThank yous, a bit of flexibility on hours or swapping of favours go a long way to keep things going before the pay off. The time that a fully engaged workforce actually arrives and you can afford it, then possibly work in the financial rewards as well. However, I don’t believe any amount of pay will engage an employee as much as appreciation does.
7. They need to understand your customersIn today’s demanding times, customers ask a lot and it is all too easy to find a culture of “resenting the customer” growing. If you can get your staff to see, in real terms, why your customer needs to get the right service from you to stay in work and how you need the customer to stay in work, their needs are suddenly transformed into something completely understandable. The other advantage in this is that by involving them as much as possible, they can contribute to solutions or upping quality. Not only does the whole company benefit, but in scary economic times, they will feel as if they have some power and control over what the future holds
8. Staff have to believe in their management and leaderDon’t go near the work place unless you are functioning at 110 per cent. You need to be passionate about the company and what you do because, quite simply, if you aren’t then there isn’t a hope of anyone you employee being.
9. The open door policyThis is a difficult one to juggle with a small-ish company. You have to strike the balance right so that you are not pulled pillar to post with the tiniest demands. Ensure that your staff feel that, if need be, you will be available to them. Managers doing their jobs right are your best barrier to keeping the minor stuff away and need to be secure enough to be unworried by junior staff talking to you directly.
10. Recognize that creating or converting a workforce to meet 21st century needs is no overnight thingYou are going to have to stick at it and deliver the extra mile as a boss.
There may be some staff in your organization who you have to recognise will never get it, will never engage and could sabotage your efforts with their negativity. Simply put: get rid of them. Just as the top 20 per cent of your customers provide 80 per cent of your sales, the bottom 20 per cent of your workforce can take all your time and energy. That is an 80 per cent, in this day and age, you have not got to spare.
Jan Cavelle is founder of the JanCavelle Furniture Company.
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