A common complaint is that it is hard to find good employees. I often ask “What about the people you already have?” Answer: “they are pretty average”
Good employees are your greatest asset. If you invest time and effort on making your employees more successful, they will rise to their full potential.
Whose responsibility is it?
Every employee has potential. It is your responsibility as a manager to develop your people. You are in a unique position to help, find resources and to provide support. Remind yourself that the investment of money, time and energy will have a big return: skillful, independent employees who respect, trust and like you, and who most likely want to support your success as you’ve supported theirs!
How Do Employees Grow?
People grow by:
- taking responsibility
- being accountable
- responding to feedback
- using the resources and training you provide and
- by managing their own growth.
What is the First Step?
Decide on a task to delegate. Some managers have trouble delegating. They falsely believe that they can do the job better and quicker without the extra time invested in ‘delegating’. However delegating and mentoring go hand in hand. As most tasks require multiple activities, delegating requires careful thought.
Know the skills, abilities and values required for the task. Does this employee possess these? If not, arrange appropriate training or adjust the task.
Clearly communicate your expectations. Let’s take an example of keeping the lunch room neat and tidy: you need to show the area, explain whether this person is expected to clean the floor or only ensure that the janitor does a good job, explain when it is critical to have it clean, etc.
Clearly define success. What will a clean Lunch Room look like? Check understanding by asking questions and posing potential problems. If they understand the task they will give answers and find ways to solve/overcome problems.
How Do I Help them Grow?
Do difficult tasks together – If the employee has difficulty doing the task, do the difficult parts of the task together for a short time and provide On-the-Job Training.
Help them solve problems – When the employee comes with a problem, do not solve it for them; ask questions like “what have you done so far to tackle this problem?” “How do you think it can be done?” This shows respect, trust and gives them the chance to think and respond intelligently. This also strengthens their problem solving abilities. Depending on their answer you have the chance to clarify matters and do some coaching.
Provide regular feedback – Feedback needs to be related to the action and not to attitudes. For example, it is better to say “I noticed that you were spending a long time getting all the tables square. It is not that noticeable and you can do the job quickly by being less particular about it” than to say “You tend to waste time”.
When is enough, enough?
Remember that people have different personality types. Your employee may not be your personality type and may see the world in a different way and solve challenges differently (e.g. talking through instead of writing a plan). Give room for each personality type to do it their way. Also keep in mind that certain personality types are more suited for certain tasks.
From time to time you may find that an employee is not cut out for this job. They may function better at another job. It is best to move such people on. But do it in such a way that their confidence is not crushed. Remember, your goal is to make them more successful.