To keep morale and motivation high, it’s essential to motivate your top performers as well those who need to improve and those who need to be shown the door. There’s a shorthand code for these three groups of employees:
Saints: those who may be a great fit with our culture but who are poor performers.
- Dogs: those who score high on the performance scale but who are a poor cultural fit
- Stars: those rare but wonderful individuals who are both high performers and a good fit with our cultural values. These folks are given extra incentives to remain long-term members of our organization.
Our response to saints and dogs is the same: shape up or ship out. While this may sound harsh, keeping employees who don’t perform or fit with your company values risks bringing down the whole ship.
As I note in my new book, “The 100: Building Blocks for Business Leadership,” most employees are not fired because they lack necessary technical skills. Most often they have poor emotional intelligence. In other words, their personality or people skills are a poor fit with our cultural expectations. Firing someone with top technical skills who alienates clients or teammates through arrogance or bullying is a no-brainer. Those folks, along with those kind souls who can’t seem to get anything done, are not organizational assets.
Once you’ve made a decision to let someone go, do so quickly and use the following guidelines to make the process as painless as possible (for you and them!):
- Have two people from your firm present
- Bring a legal separation (especially if severance pay is involved) agreement
- Quickly pay the fired employee for all hours worked and for unreimbursed expenses and any unused vacation time
- Be mentally prepared for the employee to promise he or she will change
- Do not let the employee change your decision
Last time I shared thoughts about how to keep employees motivated. (My thoughts on this important topic also are described in my new book, “The 100: Building Blocks for Business Leadership.”) Providing clear feedback is another important aspect for achieving motivational magic. It’s also important to set expectations from day one and to give frequent informal feedback in between formal reviews.
A good talent management system looks forward, provides clear and objective performance standards and encourages team members to state when he or she needs training or different tools to reach goals. At Intertech, we use Dale Carnegie’s Key Results Areas (KRAs) as a template for talent management. Four key questions guide us:
- What is the purpose of my job? The answer should be extremely simple, such as “selling our services.”
- What do I need to do to make it happen? For someone in sales, the answer might be “Call 100 potential clients every day.”
- What tools do I need to be successful? For a sales person, training in phone skills or negotiation techniques might be in order.
- How do I know when results have been achieved? As in the sales example above, reaching a specific dollar amount would be an objective measure of goal achievement.
Like any journey, arriving at your desired destination is much easier with a clear map to guide you. Think of KRAs as employee guideposts to make the journey more productive and satisfying for them and you.
In my last two The 100–related posts I shared my thoughts around happiness and getting clear around goals (yes, they are connected!). For me, and for most everyone that works at Intertech, being engaged with what we do also is a huge part of what makes us and our clients happy. Engagement is made up of many factors. It ranges from having employees understand how they fit into the big picture to continuous feedback on how they’re doing in their jobs.
Employee engagement has become a hot topic for many in business and for good reason: not only are more engaged employees more satisfied, they happily give extra discretionary effort in their jobs. According to a Gallup poll, engaged employees, when compared to non-engaged employees, are more than 20 percent more productive at work. They also are absent nearly 40 percent less than their non-engaged counterparts.
The good news is that fostering employee engagement is not expensive and it pays off big time. When companies can pair engaged employees with engaged customers, outcome-oriented business performance increases by 240 percent over companies where neither group is engaged (Gallup, 2013).
In my new book, The 100: Building Blocks for Business Leadership, I define concrete actions to improve a company’s performance in all the major areas of engagement. Here is a high-level quick summary (check out the book for more detailed information):
- Leverage teamwork – It starts with hiring professionals who understand the value of pulling together.
- Use goal alignment – Work with employees to set achievable goals, provide training and support, and hold them accountable.
- Build coworker trust – Find ways to foster communication and trust among coworkers, including social outings and things like Fantasy Football if that fits with your culture.
- Recognize individual contributions – Consciously create a culture that celebrates employee success, particularly when it happens as part of a team effort.
- Cultivate managerial effectiveness – Think of managing like coaching, helping others to see their part in the bigger picture and taking pride in their accomplishments.
- Cultivate trusted senior leaders – To earn trust, senior leaders must lead the way, admit mistakes and communicate that it’s ok to be wrong.
- Cultivate feeling valued – People are the lifeblood of your business. Make sure they know you could not do it without them!
- Encourage job satisfaction—Have systems in place to encourage consistency, communication and teamwork. Provide interesting work opportunities in a friendly and respectful environment.
- Be smart about benefits and pay—Pay people as generously as possible and provide creative benefits without breaking the bank. (Hint: it starts with asking people what they care about most.)
Next time: Building a High-Performance Team One Employee at a Time