Home Column Andi Gray: Getting employees to do their jobs

Andi Gray: Getting employees to do their jobs

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andi grayWE’RE GETTING FRUSTRATED WITH THE AMOUNT OF EFFORT NEEDED TO MANAGE SOME OF OUR EMPLOYEES. IF WE DON’T BABYSIT THEM, WHATEVER THEY’RE SUPPOSED TO BE DOING MORE OFTEN THAN NOT FALLS OFF THE TABLE — EITHER POORLY DONE OR NOT DONE AT ALL. FEEL LIKE IT’S BECOMING THE ISSUE DU JOUR AROUND HERE. THEY JUST NEED TO DO THEIR JOB RIGHT AND ON TIME. IS THAT ASKING TOO MUCH?

THOUGHTS OF THE DAY: Manage the assignments effectively. Hire for motivation. Give people a mission. Set up measuring sticks. Don’t tolerate defectors.

I recently met with a business owner who complained that when he promoted an employee to supervisor, regardless of how much money went with the promotion, despite promoting someone who had been a great performer previously, the candidate would consistently drop the ball and show less motivation in the new assignment. He wondered why employees wouldn’t jump at the chance to take on all that additional responsibility and new opportunity to perform.

When people move from one assignment to another, even if it’s just a step up to a higher level, there’s a lot to be learned. If too much is thrown at them at once, they get overwhelmed and stop trying. Conversely, if they get held back from taking on more when they’re ready to do so, they get so bored they start to not care.

There’s a fine balance between too little and too much learning. Evaluating someone’s performance in a new assignment means hanging out with that person regularly to see how they’re doing — which is quite different from letting them fend for themselves as with a new assignment.

Focus on having people around you who demonstrate drive, passion and ambition for the type of work you have to offer. You want people who care about what you’re doing on a gut level. They’ll be willing to put their hearts into their work continuously because doing this kind of work makes them feel good.

Avoid people seeking big wins who encounter big setbacks that can be demotivating. Heroes can be exciting to interview, especially when you’re looking at accomplishing big goals. But they tend to be less consistent performers and can create problems for the organization.

Seek out people who want to do a reasonably good job all the time and who can show evidence of being consistent, reliable performers. They tend to do less self-promotion, and are reluctant to brag about successes.

Talk with employees about the importance of the work. Use examples of how doing a great job has made the world a better place for someone. Connect with your employees on a higher level by showing you care about your customers.

Create a way that you and your employees can measure and report on success. Get people focused on accomplishing the same end. Even if people take different routes to get there, the outcome is the thing that everyone celebrates.

Stay on top of the “what” and “when,” but not quite so much on the “how.” Give up trying to micromanage. There are a lot of ways to skin a cat, as the saying goes. Let people try in their own way, giving them the freedom to allow their innovations to come forward. Just be clear what has to happen as a result.

Ask for regular updates — your steady performers will appreciate the attention. And if something is off track, it gives everyone an opportunity to correct before things get out of hand.

If you know you have a problem with an employee, address it right away. Challenge people about the quality of and commitment to their work. Demand that they find and pursue their passions and then find out if these match the work you have to offer.

LOOKING FOR A GOOD BOOK? Try “On Fire at Work: How Great Companies Ignite Passion in Their People Without Burning Them Out” by Eric Chester and Nido R. Qubein.

Andi Gray is president of Strategy Leaders Inc. in Stamford, a business consulting firm that teaches companies how to double revenue and triple profits in repetitive growth cycles. Call or email for a free consultation and diagnostics: 877-238-3535, AskAndi@StrategyLeaders.com.

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