Posts Tagged 'employee engagement'

Performance Symptoms vs. Performance Problems

Consider the following scenario:

A long-time employee arrives 30 minutes late for work three days in a row.  And, when questioned about this, he snaps “none of your business!”  You also notice that over the past month or so his work has really not been up to standards.  So do you have a performance problem?

Your immediate answer is probably “of course I have a performance problem!”  But what you really have is a series of performance symptoms:

  • Lateness
  • Rudeness
  • Poor quality work.

The underlying performance problem, the cause of these behaviors, could be any number of things, some of which you can control and some of which you cannot.  Consider that the employee might:

  • Have recently learned of the terminal illness of a loved one.
  • Be struggling with financial issues that are distracting from focus on work.
  • Feel (rightly or wrongly) that his work load has stretched him far beyond capacity.

You may be hesitant to engage him in a conversation about your observations.  But consider the cost and consequences of not doing so.  Just like a doctor who examines the patient with a fever (symptom) and decides on a diagnosis (problem) in order to prescribe the correct treatment, your task is to get to the underlying issue in order to develop a fair and appropriate solution.  Ideally this solution will maintain the dignity of the employee while meeting your needs for improved performance.  How to have that conversation will be the topic of a future blog post.

Sharon Hamersley is Principal of Keys to Performance, Your Resource for Workplace Productivity. Sharon helps businesses hire, train and retain outstanding employees and create workplaces where everyone can do their best work.  For more information, visit her web site http://k2performance.net or call her at 614-395-9440

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High Turnover? Try a Little Bit of Recognition!

Recently I participated in a webinar on Employee Recognition.  Yes I know it’s one of those “feel good” topics that most employers think is over-rated.  But…think again!  Properly implemented, an employee recognition program can have a significant impact on turnover.

The company discussed in the webinar had a major issue with turnover in their call center.  Clearly, customer service reps are under a lot of stress and generally speaking it is a high turnover position.  The company reduced their turnover by 75% by:

  • Asking their front-line reps to recognize on a weekly basis at least one colleague who had helped them out
  • Asking the supervisors to immediately recognize a rep who had gone “above and beyond”
  • Recognizing any employee who made a suggestion for improvement that was implemented that month.

What is different about this type of recognition program?  First of all it is public.  Everyone is encouraged to give and receive positive feedback.  Second, it minimizes the appearance of favoritism on the part of supervisors because it is based on performance, not opinion.  Third, the feedback happens timely.  There is little value in deferred praise.  The best feedback is that given at the time of good performance.  When employees know they are doing what is expected they will do more of that.  So if you want better performance and lower turnover, try a little recognition.  It just might work!

 

Sharon Hamersley is Principal of Keys to Performance, Your Resource for Workplace Productivity. Sharon helps businesses hire, train and retain outstanding employees and create workplaces where everyone can do their best work.  For more information, visit her web site http://k2performance.net or call her at 614-395-9440.

What is Employee Engagement? Why Should I Care?

Put very simply, employee engagement is the level at which your employees are willing to “go to bat” for you.   A “highly engaged” employee feels a connection to the company and consciously works to meet company goals.  A “disengaged” employee feels little connection to the company and in fact, may consciously try to sabotage company goals.

How can you tell if your employees are engaged?  Ask yourself the following questions:
• How often does work get done faster than I expected?
• How often does the quality of work exceed my expectations?
• If I were to observe my employees outside of the office, what would they be saying about the company?
If your answer to the first two questions is “never” and the third is “they would be complaining” you have a problem.

So,  what can you do to increase their level of engagement?    Here are a few suggestions:
• Make sure they know why their job is important and how it contributes to company goals.
• Be clear about your expectations for quality performance and what that looks like.
• Model the behavior you wish to see in your employees.

The success of your business depends on your employees’ willingness to fully participate in the work.  This is a shared responsibility – you need to do your part to make it happen.

Sharon Hamersley is Principal of Keys to Performance, Your Resource for Workplace Productivity.  For more information, visit her web site http://k2performance.net or call her at 614-395-9440.

“Onboarding” Can Make or Break Your Next New Hire

If you are a small or medium sized business, you may not bring new people on board that often. But when you do hire someone, what process do you have in place to help them be successful? Do you just give them the company handbook to read and say “we’re glad you’re here?” If so you are missing a great opportunity to integrate them into your business for the long term. Here are some suggestions to make a new hire “stick”:

• Have all of the tools they need to do their job in place before they start. I know salespeople who did not have business cards for several weeks after starting a new job. What kind of impression does that make, both for the employee and the business?
• It’s important to know company policies, but it’s even more important to know how your job supports company goals and objectives and what quality work looks like. No one works well in a vacuum. Create a clear picture of goals and expectations for the new employee.
• Facilitate connections with others both inside and outside the business. Your introduction to a key internal or external customer will help the new person see the larger picture of where they fit in.

If you make it clear that you are investing in your new hire, it’s much more likely that they will invest in you and help achieve your goals. That’s a win-win outcome!

Sharon Hamersley is Principal of Keys to Performance, Your Resource for Workplace Productivity. For more information, visit her web site http://k2performance.net or call her at 614-395-9440.

Help! My Employees Have a Bad Attitude!

Are your employees “lazy?”  Do they seem to just want a paycheck without doing much if any work?  If this is the case, you probably think they have a bad attitude and you’d like to just give them the boot.  That’s a natural reaction to frustration, but before you go there, answer the following questions honestly:

• Am I consistently modeling the positive behavior I want to see in others?
• Do I wait for employees to make mistakes and then jump in to tell them what they did wrong?
• When they bring an issue or need to me, is my response that they should be happy to have a job?
• Do my employees have any idea why the work they do is important to the business?

If you come to work grumpy and complaining about the poor state of the world, you can expect others to mirror that behavior.  If you constantly criticize and rarely praise, you’ll get resistance rather than cooperation.  If you view employees as a cost rather than a investment, they will not see any reason to do any more than the minimum necessary because they know they are not valued.   And remember, without the work your employees do, you would not be in business very long.

So before trying to get anyone else to improve their attitude, try improving your own.  You might be surprised by the results.

Sharon Hamersley is Principal of Keys to Performance, Your Resource for Workplace Productivity. Sharon helps businesses create profitable, productive, and positive workplaces.  For more information, visit her web site http://k2performance.net or call her at 614-395-9440.

Getting Your Employees to Do Their Job Right

A professional colleague of mine told the following story:

An employee in the Payroll Processing division of a large Midwestern bank was on the verge of being fired for poor performance.  His job was to ensure that the payroll information from various companies was correct before being submitted for processing, and his work was almost never accurate. As a last-ditch effort, my colleague was brought in to talk to the employee and find out why he was making so many mistakes.  She asked if he understood what impact  his  mistakes had.  He had no idea why accuracy mattered.  She explained that when he made mistakes, people just like him did not get paid.  From that day on, he never made another mistake.

Bottom line:  tell your employees why doing their job right is important.  They are much more likely to do the job right when they understand what impact it has on others.

Sharon Hamersley is Principal of Keys to Performance, Your Resource for Workplace Productivity. Sharon helps businesses hire, train and retain outstanding employees and create workplaces where everyone can do their best work.  For more information, visit her web site http://k2performance.net or call her at 614-395-9440.