To empower others, you must take their measurements regularly…
Post 2: “Hey, guys, I got rid of all my monkeys early today so I could make sure I came early!” Dennis laughed as his friends approached the lunch table, where they met monthly to share work ideas. “I used your tip about equipping my employees to solve their own issues they were trying to give to me, and it really did help me regain control of my time again; thanks. After our food comes, I’d like to hear any other warnings or tips you have that can make engaging employees more effective.”
A bit later Tonya started, “Last week I was thinking about what else we should tell you about encouraging employees to take initiative, and it occurred to me that we may have done you a disservice by pointing you in this direction with no warnings. There are absolutely some potholes you should avoid and some basics you should include.
“Like we should have told you to ask about what future career plans your employees have. That is so helpful to knowing how to motivate them. Like if the guy who asked about speaking to that client is interested in leading a crew or even going into some other business leadership career, you can excite him to continue learning how to communicate with people. I know you hire seasonal crew members; I’ll bet you can find transferable skills they can sharpen, like documenting processes or calculating materials or even negotiating with sales reps. Lots of those things will transfer to their target professions, even if they consider their work for you a summer job. Their engagement in any aspect usually improves their overall work as long as you give clear expectations.”
“Oh, good thought,” remembered Josh, “making sure you are always clear in stating your expectations is critical. If you’re not, you light an initiative fuse that can surprise you by going off where you didn’t expect. It’s important to be able to point back to the times you told them what the priorities are.”
“And, Dennis,” Tonya added, “never take for granted the folks who are happy where they are and do a great job at simply following through and performing well. Make sure you are gauging any time they need with you to feel your gratitude. They may not need much, but your willingness and interaction is important.”
Josh sat back and rolled his eyes. “Man, you also gotta know how to deal with those squeaky wheels. Once in a while we all get an employee that just does not perform the way the job requires. We give them the support and training, but they continue to fall short or – worse than that – they complain that all their failures are the fault of someone else! I know you have a resource that helps you with human resources issues; when you realize you have an employee like that, you want to partner early and get direction on how to document their behavior and actions in case you can’t turn them around and need to let them go. You want to make sure you do it correctly and as respectfully as possible.”
Dennis smiled, “That’s the good thing about manual labor, it’s labor. I’ve found that most people that don’t like the work quit pretty quickly. But I’ll remember your advice for sure.”
“I want to add one word of caution about poor performers.” Tonya looked at her plate trying to figure out how to frame her comment. “We all get frustrated when learning something new or have other things overwhelm us and impact our work or even our attitudes at times. So when you think about those squeaky wheels, remember if you have ever seen them successfully do the skills they are messing up. If not, you need to work with them to learn it. If you have seen them do them correctly, then you may not want to approach the issue by telling them they need to learn it; it’s more about improving results. It could be that they hit a snag and lost their former confidence. Also, I’ve seen employees whom I’ve depended on for years suddenly just start messing up or complaining. At those times, an honest, one-on-one conversation might be needed. It’s better to try and find out how you can help them than to lose a good worker unnecessarily by assuming they don’t want to perform any more. If you get a situation like that, I’m glad to share what I’ve learned; call me.”
“Okay, I think that took us past the level of light, lunchtime conversation. You guys have given me lots to think about, my napkin is full of notes. This started as an effort to get my time back! You may have complicated this so much it will take me more time just to figure it out! But I know where to go if I have questions.”
“Sorry, I guess we didn’t really put our advice into the context of time management. Maybe we can bring it back to the time priority next month.” Tonya picked up the menu, “either of you want half of that chocolate dessert Josh ordered last month?”
Reality: Giving communication time to employees is becoming more critical for managers who are responsible for performance and results. This reality requires managers to prioritize and craft their employee interactions with much more awareness than even a few years ago. The silver lining is that more people seem willing to guide their own career journeys if they are given support and direction.
FOLLOW US & don’t miss the next PEPPERBOX blog: How in the world can Josh and Tonya help Dennis save time while including all these new aspects into his employee conversations?