Posts Tagged 'process improvement'

Why Should I Share Critical Business Information with my Employees?

You’ve worked very hard to build your business and finally your hard work is starting to pay off in terms of income and profit.  But, unless you are a sole proprietor with no employees or contractors, is that success just the result of your work?  What about your employees?  What have they contributed?  And how could you get them to contribute more?

Rather than hiding information about business outcomes, try putting them out there for everyone to see. Here are some ideas:

• Create a display highlighting key results that support your business goals.  Depending on the type of business, this could be total sales dollars by month or quarter,  number of customers acquired, productivity/ number of defects per widget or any other key indicator.  Whatever you choose needs to be easily visible to all employees, so put it where they can see it.

• Incorporate these key indicators into employee communications and challenge them to do better.  For example “Our defect rate last month was X per widget.  In order to keep ahead of our competition, we need to reduce that by 50% over the next 3 months.”

• This is the hard part:  when an employee says “I have an idea that will reduce our defect rate” LISTEN.  Then work with any willing party to assess, refine, and implement the idea.

• Finally, recognize and communicate successes.  Be transparent about the resulting cost and time savings.  If an idea results in significant improvement, perhaps a bonus is in order.  After all, it’s not all about you, right?

Sharing business information for the purpose of improving the business can encourage your employees to think critically and creatively about their contribution.   In so doing, they move beyond the “employee” role into a “partner” role for the benefit of all.

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

Progressive Discipline – a Good Approach to Improving Employee Performance?

Consider the following scenario:

Your administrative assistant compiles a month-end report for you on critical business data.  The report due date is three business days after the end of the month, but recently this has been slipping to four, then five days or even later.  Frustrated, you follow company procedure and give her a verbal warning, telling her that you expect the report to be ready on the due date next month.  She promises that it will be…and once again, the report is three days late.  So, you give her a written warning, and explain that the consequence of continuing to miss the date will be termination.  Once again, the report is not ready on time, so you fire her.

Ask yourself, would you do your best work under threat of termination?  Probably not.  Are there better alternatives to helping an employee improve performance?  Definitely.  Consider the following:
• Lateness is the symptom, not the problem.  Why is the report late?  Is critical data not available timely?  Are there other priorities that get in the way of completing the report?
• Why do you need the report three business days after month end?  Just because it’s always been that way?  What is the actual need and by when?
• Are there unique circumstances over the past few months that have contributed to the issue?  Will they continue?  If not, the issue will likely resolve itself with no intervention.

In a few cases, you may not be successful with these strategies. But if you need to terminate, it’s at least with a good understanding of why things are not working and what you need to look for in the next candidate.

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