Ever had that one liner that you knew if you said it everyone would be shocked and a little bit stirred up by? I’ve got one and it’s a beauty.
A couple of weeks back I did a Q and A session with a mastermind group of business owners and leaders here in Cairns. The format was pretty simple, for two hours they asked me anything and everything people management and I did my best to help them get to the right solutions for them.
The topic turned to a common frustration amongst people managers – how do I get my staff to show more commitment to their work. They all want their staff to work with a determination to get things done well instead of being complacent and just doing enough to get by.
This group like many others I have spoken to have tried lots of things ranging between the big stick of threats of sacking to the carrot approach of offering incentives but they can’t get the desired outcomes.
So I pulled out the shock and awe one liner and said. “your staff choose how much they are going to give you everyday when they show up for work”. I encouraged them to think this statement through as I repeated it.
Everyday your staff will make a decision on how they are going to perform for you. Mostly it’s a subtle decision based on their experience of working for you that results in them knowing that they are valued by you or asking themselves “why should I bother”.
Let me give you a recent example, a friend of mine is a talented engineer with an exceptional professional reputation who moved to a regional town for family reasons and willingly took a lower paid role. In his first few months he created a highly lucrative solution for the business.
When it came to the pay review discussion he was told that the business could not afford to give him a pay rise.
He was astonished. His efforts brought in nearly $2 million in 12 months for this business, none of his co-workers had ever contributed so much and yet the owners said that they would not reward his efforts. So he made a decision and said “why should I bother” he now does the minimum required and has redirected his talents into an after work project.
I wish this was a one off example but I have seen this repeated thousands of times.
What’s the answer, then?
The real influencer of how much commitment and effort your staff are willing give you comes down the environment that you have create for them.
Understand what fuels commitment and what kills it
Aretha Franklin said this best – RESPECT. I’m not talking about politically correct respect I am talking about full on caring enough about your staff that you can recognise their professional worth and show admiration for them.
Ok, so now there will be some people reading this shouting that their staff don’t respect them. Time for another one liner that might be a bit unpalatable – You are the leader, you teach your staff how you want them to work for you and what success looks like in your organisation through your actions – they get their cues from you.
Want to kill respect in your business? All you need to do is show your dislike for staff, gossip about them, make it all about you, be impatient, refuse to help staff and or deny praise or acknowledgement.
Tell staff how they can be successful working for you and in your business
No employee knows how to do things exactly the way you want them to unless you give them a road map. It can be as easy as talking with them and saying “this is what I think is really important and this is what drives me nuts”.
Telling staff how to be successful means having a conversation about what needs to be done, how you prefer for it to be done and also the reasons behind it and be willing to listen to their feedback and remove their frustrations. This will help to get your staff on board and they’ll look for more effective ways to get you to the outcome.
In spite of all the fear mongering by industrial relations lawyers, at the end of the day your staff are just people. They will make bad decisions and stuff up but they will also do extraordinary things for you. How you handle these situations will influence what happens next.