Employees will Flourish or Flounder: Start them Right

Lonny Geiman

Lonny Geiman
Lonny Geiman is the owner of Bandura Plus

Editor’s note: Lonny Geiman is the owner of Bandura Plus, a Kansas based performance consulting and coaching business. Bandura Plus helps organizations achieve high performance results by assisting clients with strategic and succession planning, leadership training for front-line supervisors, and improving human resource practices. Geiman and his team work on-site bringing training and development solutions to their clients.  This is the second in a series of articles he will present with insights on these topics. He can be contacted at [email protected] or 620.960.8322 and the web site www.BanduraPlus.com

Studies tell us time and time again that the majority of employees enter a new job with eagerness, energy, and a desire to do their best. We all recognize from past experiences that a few should have never been hired in the first place. It’s called living and learning.

That being said, for most employees during the first four to six months that eagerness of “I want to go to work” is replaced by “I have to go to work” if the workplace culture is not good.  Employees will only self-sustain their enthusiasm for their work for a limited amount of time. They look around at other team members who have adopted a “whatever” attitude and settle in accepting this is just the norm and proceed to grind along doing the bare minimum.

Let’s accept some of the unfortunate facts today in the workplace. Seven out of ten employees would take another job if it was offered to them. For those that come on-board for a short term and then leave, the cost of turnover expense to organizations is startling. Gallup studies report that turnover can range up $4,000 for every $10,000 in payroll that is invested in employees when everything is taken into account. Those are some of the alarming numbers for the one’s that leave, but what about the employees who stay for years on the payroll, but checked out years ago with either their hands, heart, or head.

How do we go about turning the ship in the right direction to ensure that we as business owners and management are doing the right things on our end to create a culture of high energy and consistent performers?

I hear management all the time say that such and such employee was here for a short time, but just didn’t work out. That might have been the case, but my question back is are we consistent on how they set people up for success and to flourish, or they setting them up for to flounder and frustration.

Let’s start in by first getting right to the heart of what all us really want and desire as some basic human level. We want to feel in our work that we are valued, respected, and appreciated. We want to know what is clearly expected of us and how we fit into the overall scheme of things.

At Bandura Plus we stress the following points to our clients and help them by creating improved processes in bringing new employees aboard, but also how to implement some of the strategies into their current employee team.

 Place a high priority on who you allow on the team

I can hear it already. Finding good people is a challenge and sometimes we’re in dire straits to just get a body. The challenge of finding the right people will never get easier, but lowering your standards will continue to move your organization in the wrong direction. For most organizations the brief interview process is focused on past jobs and technical experience. However, most often when we choose to part ways with someone it is often due to attitude, poor behavior, or toxic to the current team. Frame up a consistent and intentional set of questions on how you interview people with more behavior based questions. Most critical is observe how well they will fit into the team.

Setting clear expectations vs. job description

Why is it a lot of employees don’t do what their supposed to do? Most often as a surprise to management they don’t clearly understand what they’re supposed to do. “But I told them when they started that they would be in the XYZ department and we expected them to work hard, be on time, and go ask their supervisor for direction or to answer any questions”.  That statement may cause you to chuckle, but I promise you that is pretty real life in many organizations. One of the biggest problems with supervisors’ communication is that they assume they have communicated clearly and they haven’t. I will direct myself not to go off on a tangent here for the number of supervisors who option out of regularly communicating with their people frequently or in their defense have never received training on how to communicate as supervisor. It’s like the chances of a kid being a successful quarterback who does not want to run, pass, or hand off the ball and the rest of the team suffers because of it. What clearly do we expect of our people not just from a technical aspect, but to include the right behaviors, attitude, and teamwork that is essential in their role?

 Frequent Feedback

Nobody is perfect the first day they start. How do we expect people to grow, develop, and get better if we don’t give them feedback? We must always be focused on continuous improvement. When challenges come up or mistakes are made, is it a training issue or a behavior issue? Stated simply, when good behaviors or efforts are observed, then acknowledging them will create more of the same. When poor behaviors or efforts are observed, failure to acknowledge again will create more of the same.

 Fix the Problem, Not the Blame

Nothing tears trust and teams down more than getting into the finger pointing game. We’re human beings and we’re going to make mistakes from time to time. Don’t encourage employees to come see you when a mistake is made and then proceed to berate and run them down. Again, if the mistakes are happening over and over again, is it a training or behavior issue and go to the root of addressing it in a cool and calm manner.

 Give way more focus to acknowledging the good things

If I have heard it once, I have heard it a hundred times in all organizations from employees. “I do ten things right every day and nobody says a word, but I do one thing wrong and boy do I catch it”. It doesn’t take much of a skillset to say thank you, I appreciate your efforts, or good job. Ask an employee that you would like to see them for a bit in your office and for many watch their face go pale wondering what they have done wrong. That is unfortunately a sad reality in many organizations today.

 Model, Connect, and Involve

We can talk and coach our people all day long with our words. However, are we walking the walk as management? Are we modeling the behaviors, attitudes, work ethic, consistency and teamwork efforts that we are asking of our people? Are we connecting with our people and accepting that sometimes people are not difficult, they are just different than us and adjusting our approach?  Are we involving them and asking for their feedback, ideas, and solutions? If we want our people to be engaged in their work and bringing their best efforts, are we listening to them and encouraging them? Nobody wants a “boss”, they want a leader. Employees will not perform well if faced with a crotchety, impulsive, and unappreciative manager.

 Continuous Improvement Plans vs. Annual Review

Employees today want conversation and continuous feedback. Especially our younger people. Most employees want, need, and deserve a measuring stick of clearly what success looks like. They want goals to shoot for. If any of us are not inspired by something that moves us to grow, reach, and get better, we become stagnant. We often hear management throw out the phrase that “we have to hold our people accountable” and my response is accountable to what?  We all want more than the annual check the box review that nobody gets anything out of other than we have appeased HR with something to drop in the file.

Now get a plan and go win

If you as an organization get even these basics down, you will be well on your way to creating the culture and environment where people show up and give their best.

Employees today often get the knock that they don’t work as hard or are as loyal as they were in the past. We can have that argument another day, but the fact is that employees have more options today and especially superstar employees who will eventually land in a culture which allows them to grow and be their best.

Remind yourself every day you’re setting employees up to flourish or flounder is greatly effecting your bottom line. This culture happens but design or by default. We enjoy meeting new people and sharing back and forth our stories. Reach out anytime.