Articles tagged "Staff Accountability"
In a tough economy or a vibrant one, gaining or finding and hiring good employees is one of the most challenging, and re-curing problems confronting most organizations. We've all done it, and many still do: In our desperation to fill the empty position, we simply hire the most interested, and sometimes, the only applicant who appears close to what we're looking for.
I started focusing on what I call the Middle Management mess after I read an article in the March 2006 issue of the Harvard Business Review by Robert Morison, Tamara Erickson, and Ken Dychtwald entitled “Managing Middlescence.” Their article addressed the mid-career employees, aged 35 to 54, who “should be at their peak of productivity,” but instead “are the most disaffected segment of the workforce.” With one in four of these employees holding managerial or supervisory positions, this was a problem we as employers needed to be aware of and act upon. Yet, how many of us did? How many of us focused on them in a positive light when the economy tanked in 2008?
Let's back up first and understand who these disaffected employees are? According to the authors’ and other research, these individuals are often responsible for raising their children, (from first and second marriages), caring for aging parents, helping their twenty and thirty-something children meet expenses, and looking at their own altered retirement plans. Because they’re not “star” performers, they are often overlooked by senior management and grouped together as a single category of “middle management” so their individual skills, dreams, and desires are lost. In addition, according to the study, this group has the lowest satisfaction rates with their immediate managers and the least confidence in top executives. In the years since this article was first published, how has your organization treated its non-star, middle managers? Was greater attention focused on them and support sent their way, or were they let go in search of brighter stars or to cut "dead weight"?
If you've not done the greatest job supporting your middle managers, what can be done to do better going forward?
First, re-evaluate how and where you focus your energies.
If yours is like most organizations, you focus most of your energies on the top 20% of employees and the bottom 10%. You woo the top and try to “fix” the bottom. Instead, you need to look at this logically. The top 20% don’t need that much time from you as they're already self-starters, driven, and frankly they'll resent too much “guidance.” You simply need to point them in the right direction, provide them with the resources they need, be available, and let them perform. The bottom 10% are probably not a right fit for you and you’re not a right fit for them. So if you've made an honest effort in helping them gain the skills they need to succeed with your organization and it’s not worked, face the fact that it probably never will and let them go. The middle 70% have been left alone as they’re doing what you expect. However, “left alone” has turned into “ignored.”
Second, you need to start communicating clearly -- throughout your entire organization -- what your organization’s vision of success is.
They need to know how each individual employee and his or her position feeds into that vision. Ensure each employee understands where and how he or she fits in to the Plan and keep repeating that message until everyone knows it and “gets it.”
Third, start focusing on creating a pool of qualified candidates for every position in your company.
Why only focus on a few “star” employees and base your organization’s future on them? Why not focus instead on developing your pool of middle managers to become a more skilled, more engaged, and more productive group overall? Why not create opportunities for more than just a few and see who else rises to the challenge? Meet with your middle managers and supervisors to hear from them what challenges they see to new projects and what ideas they have to overcome them.
Fourth, implement a middle management development process.
Mentor and cross-train every middle manager so they understand not only the job they were hired to do, but they understand the job of the person tangent to them, below them, in different departments, and above them. This cross-training not only provides exposure and stimulation, it expands their skills, knowledge and quite obviously expands their understanding of your organization overall. This broadened knowledge allows them to make better decisions because they will have a better understanding of the ramifications of their actions and your executive team’s as well.
As John Maxwell says in his book, 360 Degree Leadership, “99% of leadership comes not from the top, but from the middle.” I agree. Given that, why not ensure we’re supporting the middle as much as the top?
Fix your middle management mess by fixing the way you support them.
Copyright MMVI - Liz Weber, CMC, CSP - Weber Business Services, LLC – www.WBSLLC.com +1.717.597.8890
Liz supports clients with strategic and succession planning, as well as leadership training and executive coaching. Learn more about me on LinkedIn!
If you were asked to describe your employees, would "motivated" be one of the adjectives you'd use? If not, why not?
If you respond by saying something such as "They just don't care…," or "All they want is a paycheck…," those statements are not true for most employees. Your employees want many of the same things in life you do; things such as a means to provide for and protect their families, strong family and social interactions, a stable work environment, and the opportunity to utilize their skills and be recognized for them.
As an employer, your acknowledgement and support of these basic human needs, leads to more motivated employees. Why? Well, if your employees have these "human needs" fulfilled they're not distracted during work. They're able to focus on production instead of trying to figure out how to deal with a serious family issue or how to reduce their boredom and utilize some skills you haven't tapped yet.
So what does this mean for you the employer. No, you don't have to become a family counseling center or provide babysitting services, but you do have to be aware of your employees' concerns. You need to help them find resources either within your organization or outside that can help them. It also means you need to sit down with employees to find out what skills they aren't using and how you can help them tap them. The sooner basic steps such as these are taken, the sooner your employees' focus returns to production. Once employees can focus on production -- their internal drive and motivation increases.
So ask yourself, "Are my employees motivated? If not, what can I do to get them there?"
Copyright MCMXCIX Liz Weber, CMC, CSP - Weber Business Services, LLC.
We've all come across difficult individuals in our workplace and typically, we've found that the “safest” way to deal with them is to ignore them. However, by ignoring the difficult behaviors of our team members, we are by default condoning their poor behaviors. We are passively accepting their bad behaviors. As professionals, as leaders, we need to stop condoning their behaviors if we want our team members to stop behaving badly. So what do we do? Interact with them assertively.
Most difficult employee behaviors, from “sherman tank-like” to “clam-like” behaviors, can be addressed and minimized. Just keep in mind that you have to stay calm and interact with these individuals in ways that clearly indicate to them, their current behaviors don't effect you as they do others. You're not intimidated by them nor are you frustrated by them. You simply won't get sucked in to them or condone them. You expect all of your team members to behave as professionals. Bullying or clamming up are not options.
Let me share some examples.
Working With a "Sherman Tank"
Let’s say you have someone who is a “sherman tank”. This person is loud, obnoxious, and highly domineering. Why does he act this way? Because by doing so in the past, he's probably had most people back away from him and have let him plow forward getting his way. He's highly competitive and he's aggressive. That's fine, but it doesn't work well over the long-term when he has to work as part of a team. So, as the manager, you need to do something. Ignoring it isn't an option. That's condoning it. Becoming equally aggressive isn't an option, because that will simply cause arguments to ensue and other team members to sit back and pick sides as to who is going to "win." So try the assertive approve. When the sherman tank blows and blusters, you simply remain calm, look him in the eyes, ask him to calmly tell you what the issues are and then talk to him about the specific issues he's blustering about. When you don't cower or become angry, within a relatively short period of time, he will realize you're not responding in a fashion he's accustomed to. It'll confuse him and he'll calm down. My caveat to this is that I do not tolerate anyone swearing at me. If that happens, I tell the person to stop and come talk with me in ten minutes when they've calmed down and can speak to me without swearing. Then I walk away. When they come back, we don't discuss their language, simply the issue they were blustering about.
Working With a "Clam"
If you have someone on the other end of the difficult behaviors spectrum, someone who refuses to speak up – a “clam” – don’t ignore this team member or accept this behavior. Typically clams have learned this passive-aggressive behavior as a way to get out of participating. So, here's what I suggest. Make it clear to all of your team members you expect each of them to contribute and share their ideas, input, and status updates regularly. Then pull the entire team together and ask for input from a team member who you know will participate. Do it again with another team member who will share information. Then ask your "clam" for input. Now, here's the tricky part, once you ask for your clam's input, simply look at her and wait. Look at her with genuine interest. She'll typically say something along the lines of, "I don't know." or "I don't have anything." This response has historically earned her a pass, but no more. Simply say, "Take 30 seconds to gather your thoughts, we'll wait." Then again, calmly sit and look at her. It will take no more than three-five seconds and she'll say something. Whatever she says, go with it. But let her and everyone know, going forward everyone needs to come prepared and share. You've been professional and you've been assertive. Here's why this works: human beings can not stand silence. Asking for her input and then waiting 3-5 seconds while you honestly look at her for input just once sends a clear message to her and the rest of the team that participation is expected. You weren't mean. You weren't disrespectful. You were simply asking for her to contribute what she is supposed to share and you waited for her to gather her thoughts. That's your way of simply making your expectations for participation very clear. There will be very few people who come to your next team meeting unprepared. They all got the message.
Remember, your purpose for addressing these “difficult people” is to make them aware their difficult behaviors are no longer acceptable. That's your job. So stay calm and give it a try.
Be assertive. Be a manager. Be a leader.
Copyright MCMXC - Liz Weber, CMC, CSP - Weber Business Services, LLC
Critical Numbers are those key financial, production, or sales numbers that tell us how well we're doing -- or not doing. These numbers help us determine what we MUST accomplish day in and day out to be successful.
For instance, for a movie theater, one critical number to track may be the number of seats sold; for a food processor, cost of raw product and additives; for a grocery store, spoilage rate. Whatever the number -- everyone in the organization must know what the number is -- not just the ticket sellers, production floor supervisor, or produce manager. Everyone must understand they have a role in either meeting or not meeting that critical number – because THAT number is critical to their organization's success.
Keeping the movie theater clean may not seem important to some theater employees. However many customers will not return to a theater if they had to sit on someone else's soda spill and chewed gum. If the clean-up crew knows why their job is important to meeting a key Critical Number, everyone benefits. The customers will return, ticket sales will increase, and the employees see clearly how their jobs are vital to the organization’s success.
Identify your Critical Numbers then share them with EVERY EMPLOYEE in your organization. Let them know how critical THEY are to you and your organization’s success!
Copyright MCMXCVII - Liz Weber, CMC, CSP - Weber Business Services, LLC – www.WBSLLC.com