How Can I Get My Employees To Do a Better Job?

how can i get my employees to do a better job

Work group sitting around a desk working on a project together

It is always such a thrill when our company wins a new account or contract, but at Barracuda Staffing, we understand how new business can be a double-edged sword!  Inevitably at some point, every new contract or account means that the employees involved in production will need to step up their game to deliver on promises made and contracts signed.  Failure to motivate the Production Team will cause problems with your new clients and eventually end up de-motivating the Sales Team, who will begin to feel like they are out in the field making empty promises upon which their company cannot deliver.  

How do you get everyone at your organization to share in a vision of excellence, growth, and success for all?  Well, there are plenty of examples of how NOT to do it, and I’m sure most of us have at least three anecdotes to illustrate this point!  One of my past co-workers used to prepare for every productivity meeting by swinging by my desk and saying, “Ready for the group spanking?”.  These meetings would always come at a time when our numbers were down and the not-so-thinly veiled threat of firings or layoffs were put on the table to make sure people understood the severity of the situation.  Unfortunately, these meetings typically had the opposite effect, increasing dissatisfaction, which decreased productivity, ensuring the problem would come back to haunt us month after month.

Understand – Educate – Inspire – Challenge

First and foremost, being able to put yourself in your employee’s shoes prevents a deteriorating disconnect from occurring; when we disconnect from each other, we stop seeing each other as valuable assets and start seeing each other as liabilities.  The employer wants to cut lazy employees loose, and the employee wants to find a “better-paying job”.  In truth, however, employees are not connected or inspired by their paychecks.  Think about it, even if you won the lottery, you’d still be complaining about how much the government takes out of your cut; nobody is ever happy with what they make!    Employers are likewise not connected or inspired by highly productive workers – companies always need to get more for less as well, and every new production milestone can quickly become the expected norm; no matter what side of the fence you’re on, everyone always wants more of something.

Understand your employees on a deeper level.  So many companies uphold a slogan that their employees are their most valuable asset or resource, but when you walk the hallways or shop floor, it’s clear to see that message has not trickled all the way down the chain.  Your employee may have a child or parent battling terminal illness. They may be battling with childhood demons about absent parents, and they now struggle with the pain of not being there for important school events as their own kids grow up.  They long for more sunlight, more sleep, more time, more everything, and the job you provide is all too often simply a means to an end.  Making an employee feel like an easily traded commodity is the surest way to send morale and productivity spiraling down the drain.  This isn’t to say you have to start running your business like a charity, but the phrase “It’s not personal, it’s business” should never apply to people.

Educate and train your employees incessantly.  Actual time within every work week should be dedicated to continuous learning and improvement, and even though in the short term that can take away from today’s productivity, it will pay off in major ways in the future.  When you set the expectation of improvement in your workplace, you are sending a clear message to your employees that they matter, that you care about them enough to help them grow and develop in their field of expertise.  Additionally, you begin to eliminate the pathways for failure when you place a high importance on training and education.  According to a Veteran I spoke with recently, the Military has outlined four sources of failure for any particular objective or mission:

  1. There is No Standard (A failure of the organization, not the Employee)
  2. There is a Standard, but it’s not Taught (Again a failure of the Organization)
  3. The Standard is Taught but not Enforced (A failure of Management)
  4. The Employee Fails

To ensure that your organization is beyond reproach and is not the reason for production failures, make sure you have clear, written standards in place, and that those standards are well-taught and consistently enforced.  Anytime you think you have trained your employees to the best of your/their ability, think again!  A German psychologist named Hermann Ebbinghaus published a shocking discovery in 1885 that the human brain is wired to forget.  His documentation of this process is known as “The Forgetting Curve”, and it is still relevant today.  It takes continuous repetition over a long period of time for true memory retention to take hold, so if you have gone over something once or twice with your staff, don’t be surprised if it’s news to them two months later.  

Some studies indicate a person has to see, hear, or read something a minimum of 7 times over a confined period of time before it will be readily accessible to their long term memory recall months or year later.  How many times have we experienced a training roll-out where employees had to sign off that they received the training, and then the principles were never directly reviewed again until the employee failed?  Did the employee tell you they were never told about important information only to have their signature page waived incredulously in front of them? Build repetitive education into your process until your employees can recite everything you need them to know in their sleep!  Precious time spent doing this will give them the confidence and ability to succeed, reduce your failure rate and liability, and will ultimately increase morale and productivity.

The Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve – and How to Overcome It – by Sid Savara

Inspire employees constantly by keeping a sense of purpose fresh in their minds.  Does your company make parts for military contractors?  If that’s what your CNC Machinists or PCB Assemblers think they do all day – making parts – then you have failed to inspire them about their place in the world.    It may be that your machined valve or PCB module is going directly onto a Gerald R. Ford-Class Aircraft Carrier, a vessel that will someday carry over 2,600 servicemen and women around the globe, bringing security and humanitarian aid in times of despair and greatest need.  At best, a failure of your organization’s part can prevent our soldiers from completing their duties; at worst, a critical part failure puts lives at risk.  Any employee could be proud to be part of this legacy, if only they knew about it.  Perhaps your company makes Power Supply systems that are installed in hospitals; someday, somewhere there will be a mother hovering over her preemie on life support while a thunderstorm rages outside; because of your equipment, that life support will keep her baby alive even when the businesses down the street go dark. There are so many stories of how your company is making a difference in the world – these stories need to be communicated to your employees so they know they are part of a bigger picture, and their life’s work has meaning, because that is worth a hundred times more than a paycheck.

An inspired employee is a more engaged employee.  

In addition to telling your company’s stories about the true meaning of the work you do, browse this article about the Top Employee Engagement Trends of 2017.

Challenge everyone in your organization, not just production or sales.  Some of the best companies in the world teach their internal staff that their most important customers are their coworkers: we need to put each other first in the workplace whenever possible.  When Executives, Supervisors, and Admin Staff constantly look for ways to provide more resources to their coworkers, a tone is set for your organization that the people of your company are going to bat for each other day in and day out.   In turn, this environment creates employees that want to go to bat for your customer; couple that with a greater understanding of what their work means out on the global stage, your organization becomes alight with driven, dedicated employees who care about your company and the part they have to play.

If your company is following all of these steps already and still seeing high turnover and reduced productivity, check out this past blog about “The Drama Triangle” and start empowering your managers to become Creators and Coaches so their behavior can become examples to their employees on how to manage conflict in the workplace.

Barracuda Staffing was named to the 2017 Fastest Growing 5000!

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Barracuda Staffing knows that when your organization succeeds, everyone succeeds!  Join us on LinkedIn for Industry and HR resources, inspiration, blog updates, and more; if you have never worked with Barracuda Staffing before, learn more about our process, our team, and our guarantee on our website.