In business we have learned there are basically five reasons why employers and employees don’t accomplish what they need to. Here’s how to make success a habit for yourself in your business endeavors and for your company.
First, employees must know what to do. Most people want to do a good job. Ah, but if they only understood what a good job looks like. What may be considered a good job by one person may not fit the specifications of another.
Leaders will make the vision, purpose, and values of the organization clear. It’s important to provide job descriptions that clearly identify expectations that determine success in a particular position. Leaders provide feedback and evaluations so that employees know when they’re doing a good job (and when they aren’t ).
Communicate what success is. Reinforce it. Success becomes a habit. Good leaders may know this intuitively or have learned it along the way.
Yes, leadership skills can be learned. I don’t think anybody is a born leader. I think that people are born with certain characteristics, and, as they develop, they can improve upon those characteristics. But leadership is not something you learn overnight. I believe it’s a process.
There are leadership techniques you can learn, and if you learn them gradually and implement them as you’re learning them, and tracking and measuring your performance, you’re going to be able to have something solid and something lasting.
A leader, is a visionary. Being the visionary and then communicating that vision to the right people, putting them in the right positions, teaching them the skills and the knowledge that they need to perform their functions – that’s leadership. Then get out of their way.
Second, employees must know how to do a good job. Let me share a story about a young woman who was supervising in a light manufacturing plant. The plant was a start-up operation, and this rooky was responsible for getting the plant operational and for insuring the success of the operation once it started running. A daunting task? Yes.
The plant opened on time, and the operations started to smooth out. It was very important to this young supervisor for everyone in the plant to perform up to maximum capability. This meant that employees needed to be on time, to do their job correctly, and to perform in a manner that was professional and safe.
The biggest problem was that many of the workers didn’t have a sense of urgency when it came to accomplishing tasks. When work needed to be done, people needed to be in the right place at the right time doing the right things. There was no time for chit-chat. The supervisor had work to do and expectations to meet. Those who didn’t comply were fired.
About nine months after plant opening, our young heroine’s plant was visited by the VP of Operations. The VP expressed gratitude to the supervisor for her commitment to the project. He went on to say that, even though they appreciated her effort and hard work, perhaps they had made a mistake in hiring her.
What? She was shocked. As it turned out, her plant had the highest turnover rate of all their plants in the country. The VP informed her that when the turnover is as high as it was in her plant, it is not the fault of the employees, but lack of leadership and management skills on HER PART. Even though our heroine had the background and the technical skills for the position, she lacked the empathy and knowledge to lead people.
Our young supervisor, of course, was stunned to think that other people were criticizing her performance when they just didn’t understand how hard her job was, and that workers who did not want to cooperate had to be let go, and if they didn’t want to work under the conditions that required them to do their job right, they could leave. Her life lesson was about to begin.
The VP presented her with three options: She could resign. Together they would develop a cover story to protect her and the organization. Or, two, she could be fired. Again, they would agree on a cover story to protect her reputation and the organization’s. Or, three, she could agree to learn what she didn’t know about what she didn’t know and be on a six-month probation.
Our heroine moved quickly from being unconsciously incompetent to becoming aware that she was consciously incompetent. She had a choice to make. She could blame others, and react from fear and be angry, or she could choose the path of integrity and make choices that allowed her to improve and redeem herself. She chose to learn what she didn’t know about what she didn’t know.
Today she is grateful that her employer gave her an opportunity to grow as a leader and as an individual. So my challenge to you is this: Ask yourself what you could do better. The signs are all there. Are you aware of the direction they are pointing you?
Many people are over-managed, but under-led. When employees are empowered and clear about their objectives, and if they have the ability to execute, you can’t help but be successful. In fact, I think that instead of referring to the people in the organization as employees, if you really work with providing them the information that they need, they can become partners in the success of that organization.
I conduct sales training for various organizations and always find it interesting that as we are talking about organizational development and companies are hiring people, they say, We only hire experienced salespeople, because, if they have sold before, they’ll be successful for us. And then something happens and we find out they’re not successful. Why?
It is important to provide new hires with training about your organization and about what makes your organization special. If you don’t provide employees with the opportunity to learn the skills that you want them to know in your organization, you are short-changing that employee and you are short-changing yourself.
Training is not a luxury. It’s a necessity. You are helping employees become successful. The only thing worse than losing a trained employee is keeping an untrained one. And with that said, the question that comes to mind is this: What do you need to learn how to do to be more successful? To make this your best year yet?
Many times when I begin a new supervisory and leadership program, there is some resistance from the participants. At the beginning of the class the most often-asked question is this one: How do I get employees to do what I want them to do? At about the midway point in the class, the light bulb goes on. These same people finally realize they didn’t know what they didn’t know. Think about it.
Third, people may not be as effective as they could be because they are not in an environment that supports their success or perhaps they don’t have the necessary resources. They have two choices: Communicate what they need (and why) to someone who can do something about it, or leave the environment.
You’ve heard this before, but it bears repeating here: People don’t leave companies, they leave bosses. At least 21 percent of all turnover happens because employees do not like their environment (read that: bosses). Again, choices can be made.
When we have done surveys of employees to find out what type of training they felt was necessary, the overwhelming majority of those responding felt that communication was a real issue in their workplaces. Lack of communication! And what you might find interesting is that communication is about the least taught skill. If you don’t have effective communication from the top of your organization, the people who are expected to do the work will not be able to perform in a satisfactory manner.
So what needs to be communicated? The vision of the organization, the purpose, and the values, the code of conduct, if you will. If the leaders of the organization are not clear about their vision, mission, purpose, and core values, then the rest of the company is not going to be able to meet expectations. Every employee deserves to know where he or she fits in an organization. They deserve job descriptions and feedback on performance. They deserve to be coached and mentored and treated the way they want to be treated.
A leader must communicate effectively. A leader must also provide the training and development and to make sure that employees have a safe environment and that employees have all the resources they need to do the job. For example, are there enough people in a department to accomplish the tasks? Are the computers loaded with the right software to do the work?
Environment, of course, doesn’t mean the temperature is too hot or too cold! I’m talking about stress and tension levels. Low morale and lowered productivity. Twenty-one percent of turnover comes from people who don’t want to be working in a particular environment anymore. Almost a fourth of a workforce at any one time may not be happy with the environment, the boss. They will be leaving you.
I think that much of the stress in today’s workplace comes from employees not wanting to be where they are at work. They’re not bad people, they just weren’t trained properly. They don’t have the resources to do their jobs, because no one communicated the company goals and expectations. A flawed hiring process coupled with poor or no training is now showing up as low morale and high level of tension and stress. Sound familiar?
In a recent non-managerial survey only 25 percent of employees responded they felt engaged and took pride in their work. Another 25 percent felt they could be more productive, and the rest (50 percent) said they were only putting enough time and effort and energy into their jobs to keep their jobs. For a business owner this is scary. That means there is a lot of waste in the organization.
Stress happens when people don’t know where they’re going or what they’re doing or why they’re doing it. Some stress is good stress. Even productive and creative. But the bad stress occurs when employees are constantly putting out fires. People don’t come to work for our reasons; they come to work for their reasons.
When employees are given the opportunity to set their own goals, when they understand where they fit in the organization, when they understand the importance of the role they play on a team, they will generate good stress versus bad stress. I believe that when people know who they are, where they are going, and how to get there, then the stress is not a big factor.
Fourth, employees may not be successful because they just don’t have the aptitude. There are a lot of things I can’t do. I could not take a car or a computer apart and put it back together. Guess what? I don’t want to either. I also know I don’t have the aptitude to be in a stationary position for a long period of time. My energy level is too high. I need to move around. I am good at speaking, listening, and problem solving, but not administrative or routine tasks. So if you’re trying to put a round peg into a square hole, it isn’t going to fit.
I recommend that, when companies are hiring people who are the right fit for the organization, communicate your vision and passion for your business. Look for people who resonate with that same energy. More than 66 percent of all hires prove to be mistakes within the first year.
My fellow Omahan, Warren Buffett, has often been quoted as saying, If you are looking for someone to hire, you want them to have integrity, intelligence and initiative. If they don’t have the first, you really want to hire them dumb and lazy because the other two will kill you. The leadership of any organization must be quite clear about the direction they want to go and be very effective about communicating that direction to the right people.
The lesson here: Hire the right people doing the right things in the right order, and you will increase their chances (and yours) to be successful.
Fifth, employees need to want to be successful. How many people do you know who say that they should quit smoking, but continue to smoke? Until they decide they want to quit, they won’t. There are payoffs to hanging onto vices, and there are payoffs to staying stuck.
Quite frankly, you may find that employees don’t do what you want them to do because they just don’t want to. That’s what we would call an attitude, and if it’s an attitude problem, then we need to find out what went wrong. And chances are the problem can be pinpointed to one of these areas: communication, training, or environment. In that case you will need to find a way either to correct that, or to make the tough decision and let the person go. It’s the job of the leader to make the people on your team successful.