I went home last night just pissed off at the world. I have an employee that is under performing, and causing a lot of headaches in the office. Employees are growing frustrated, I am growing frustrated, so now what? I had to sit back and remove myself as the leader of the organization and really think about how I would tell a client to handle the situation. I woke up at 4AM this morning with a blog idea…so here we go.
Are you frustrated with an employee or multiple employees? Fire them, write them up, scream at them, demoralize them and see if that helps your business. The problem may be you, not them. What you thought I was going to automatically be on your side as a leader? Come on now.
You need to remember that employees are your business, and keeping them motivated has a direct reflection to your own bottom line. It is harder to do nowadays. Most surveys are showing that 70%+ of employees claim to be disengaged at work.
But, as humans, we get fed up with the people working for us. We expect them to have the same drive and energy for our business as we do, even though they don’t own the business. And we may despair that we can’t control them, “fix” them or at least mold them into something closer to what we want.
Don’t despair. Often, it is the owner, not the worker, who is the biggest problem, and a few personal changes can go a long way toward improving the staff morale and their engagement – and keep you from getting frustrated by the people you manage.
Here are a few ideas, take a look and see what you think.
Identify what’s most important.
Often when managers find themselves frustrated with employees, they begin to focus on small things rather than what really needs to be accomplished. While small things can become big problems, it’s important for business leaders to be clear with themselves about big-picture goals. Take an employee who is chronically late. You might feel that needs to be addressed, because you believe in punctuality. Now say that same employee is also your top salesperson. Should you work about the clock, when clearly the job results are helping you? This is a slippery slope because it could also send the wrong message to other employees, so beware.
So many managers I coach express frustration over what their employees “lack.” But, when I ask them whether they themselves have set expectations for their workers, they almost always admit they have not. You can’t expect your employees to be mind-readers (I am guilty of this) While it’s incumbent upon employees to communicate with each other and with managers, it’s equally important for managers and business owners to set measurable expectations and clearly communicate them to employees.
Hold yourself and your employees accountable.
Lack of accountability creates bad habits and mediocrity. If employees are not meeting expectations that have been clearly defined, it’s imperative to address that immediately. If you put it off, you run several risks. The employee’s habit might be harder to break later. You will create a bad office morale situation by letting one person “get away” with something. And you can cause mutual resentment that can be toxic, particularly for a small business. What’s more, you have to lead by example. Admit your mistakes and hold yourself accountable. True leaders are not afraid to admit when they’re wrong and that organically commands respect. I have to thank my mentor Mr. Suheimat for teaching me this skill very early on in my career.
Be more open with feedback.
Employers and managers commonly use annual reviews as the only forum for providing feedback to subordinates. Yet, formal yearly reviews are just that — a formality. The most productive feedback to employees is more organic and ongoing, where a job well-done is acknowledged and weak performance is addressed in real time. Again, this is a chance to lead by example by asking for feedback from your own employees. Few managers think that it’s a good idea to solicit ongoing feedback from workers for fear it can break down the structured organizational hierarchy. However, managers have the ability to set the tone of how feedback is offered and received. Implementing a common practice where feedback is offered in a professional manner and for the sole purpose of increasing productivity for optimal results instantly raises the level of internal communication and mutual respect. I would also recommend that you set up 121 meetings with your first level managers. This is a great forum to both provide and receive feedback.
The next time you feel yourself getting frustrated or downright pissed the F off…take a deep breath and reflect on a couple of these ideas. Shoot me a note with what worked for you and what didn’t