Improve employee performance
During the recent Presidential elections the number one issue was the economy. Part of that discussion and closely tied to it was creating jobs.
The main discussion from business owners with a Republican party political point of view spoke about the high cost of labor including employee benefits, increasing productivity or obtaining more flexibility from employees that increases costs and therefore making companies uncompetitive.
The main discussion from the Democrats and their supporters spoke about those making an annual income of $250,000 per year paying more in taxes.
Unfortunately elections are a distraction from reality. If you own a business and want it to grow you cannot do it all yourself and need to hire labor to help.
If you are an employee you have two choices. Option one is to work for a business owner and help build their dream or option two is to become a business owner and build your own.
If the above makes sense, there seems to be one constant. Too many business owners think their employees need to do more and so they are not happy while too many employees think they do more than necessary and so they are not happy. However, the reality is both need each other, their relationship swings depending on whether the business owner is doing well or the employees think they are doing well. The bottom line, however, is that if you own a business you will have employee turnover. Here are some simple suggestions to help manage your employee turnover.
The place to start is with the business owner. The business owner gets to make the final decisions whether they like it or not. If this is their responsibility then having a good set of principles to improve employee performance makes it easier and these include.
1. Embrace the word “communicate.”
The art of communicating involves two actions. Talking and listening. The more important action is listening. You cannot hear when you are talking so do a little talking and a lot of listening and you’ll have a much better outcome than the reverse. Listening also helps reduce gossip, speculation and most important of all, anxiety. Many business owners like to operate in an environment of anxiety so it motivates employees. Work out the style that works best for you but remember employees have choices and you can only go so far with a negative environment.
2. Develop strong systems
The first step to success which is the total responsibility of the business owner is strong systems and processes or Standard Operating Procedures (SOP.) Employees typically like knowing what they need to do to be successful. Strong systems and processes create that foundation for the business.
3. Make backup and cross training part of your SOP
If strong systems and processes are the foundation for success, this success will be long lasting if the information or knowledge is kept up to date and just as importantly, shared by all the employees. This environment can allow a few key employees to hold you hostage so be proactive by using technology to have all information easily and readily available.
4. Ask employees to be part of the solution
The quality of the SOP which flows into the culture of the business is set by the owner while the employees deliver it. To help the owner know the thoughts of the employees, ask them. Is this a good place to work? Are the encouraged or indeed rewarded for their feedback? Does the owner regularly ask the employees what is working well? What areas need improvement?
5. Create and reward standards
Most employees that choose to stay will do so if they know or believe they are doing a good job. This means they need standards and the owner to create a positive work environment. In addition, when there are successes the employees should be part of any rewards especially if they meet or exceed those standards.
Remember, rewards do not always need to be money. Ask your employees what rewards they would like so you understand their motivation. It may surprise you how little they want and need especially in this tough economy. For example, it may be time off to leave early to attend an event with their child, a small plaque to sit on their desk acknowledging an achievement or as simple as a cake for their birthday or better still, a thank you from the owner.
6. Recognize & Reward high performing employees
It is generally a given that 80% of the sales in a business with a sales team will come from 20% of the employees. It’s not fair and it doesn’t make sense but it is what it is. As a result, the high performers will want more of the rewards and that is not unreasonable. That is, it’s good business to not only recognize team success but in most situations individual success. Care needs to be taken to make sure the environment stays positive so those that aren’t performing raise their standards and not leave just like losing the high performers is critical so they don’t leave for a competitor. It’s important to plan carefully any rewards and just as important to be careful how you communicate with the individuals and the team as it is easy to creative a negative environment and then there are no winners.
If it makes sense to create and reward standards then if follows that the employees want a chance to earn the rewards they negotiate. To earn the rewards it means moving out of their comfort zone and learning new skills. The bottom line, therefore, is that they need a combination of new training for new skills and someone that they can watch or be a mentor to learn the new skills and provide positive feedback.
8. Deal with problems
The number one reason the business has an owner or in their absence, a manager is to solve problems and make decisions. If there are problems they require answers in the shortest time possible and of the highest quality. Do not let problems fester. Deal with the issues sooner rather than later.
9. Treat employees consistently
An employee handbook is a good way to clearly establish company policies and reduce your risk of legal complaints. An operations manual is a good way to clearly establish what and how to do it. Having employees own and keep the operations manual up to date with the owner doing random tests to ensure its all good quality is simply good business.
10. Weed out weak performers
Tolerating poor performers lowers the standards of the business, lowers employee morale and creates a workplace culture that is not as positive as it can be. The saying “You are as only as good as your weakest link” surely came from a business owner.
11. Hire carefully
If you agree that “You are only as good as your weakest link, when hiring, look for a “good fit” including positive attitude, values and work ethic.
There is no question. The customer is the life blood of a business. However, for the blood to move around the body and keep it alive it takes heart. Good employees are the heart of any successful business.