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Employees Underperforming? How To Respond To These 3 Excuses

Sometimes, an employee just needs an extra jolt. Other times, you will need to pull the plug.

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Companies are increasing their focus on employee retention. In fact, PayScale’s 2018 Compensation Best Practices report found that 59 percent of respondents considered employee retention a “major concern” for their companies and organisations. This isn’t surprising given that a revolving staff door can make it almost impossible to preserve recent organisational knowledge and keep up with projects and responsibilities.

So, yes, keeping retention top of mind is smart, but sometimes a staff change is unavoidable. When you’re calling the shots, firing people will almost certainly make you uncomfortable. Whether you are running a small start-up or a Fortune 500, you can’t hide behind other people and say the decision was out of your hands.

Then, the bigger your company gets, the harder it will be to respond in order to change quickly and effectively. While employees can grow into their roles, you shouldn’t let your sense of loyalty to your current employees prevent you from making good business decisions.

It’s just logical that some of your original staff members are going to be unable to keep up with the pace and to cease to bring enough value to the company. In those cases, you should maintain a realistic attitude as to when it is time to part ways. And, when those tough conversations need to happen, your sense of loyalty to your employees can be your worst enemy.

A retention reality check

checking-in

In your personal life, “loyalty” generally means believing in an individual and defending him or her when that person comes under attack. When you become part of a team, however, the definition of loyalty changes.

As a leader, you need to think about your loyalty to all of your employees instead of just one person. When a team member cannot keep up or shows signs of burnout, he or she will likely require co-workers to pick up the slack. When you hold certain people to a lower standard, other employees become resentful, and the poor performer starts to drag the company down.

Related: Dealing With Employee Misconduct

For example, a B2B company we worked with had a marketing employee who had been with the team from the beginning. The company had done well, and its board was pushing for accelerated growth – which required more effective marketing. The employee was a jack-of-all-trades but couldn’t keep up with increased demand. After the difficult decision was made to replace this employee with a more qualified individual, the company quickly hit stretch goals that had previously been elusive.

Often, a leader may be blind to necessary personnel changes, whether willfully or unconsciously. In either case – if this leader is you – the sooner you recognise the problem and take steps to address it, the better off your company will be.

Warning signs that signal a personnel change

It will not always be obvious, but here are three common excuses from employees that might indicate it is time for you to consider a personnel change:

1. “I don’t have enough time” 

Work stress is prevalent across all industries, and a study from Paychex found that roughly 70 percent of those surveyed reported stress levels of at least 3 on a scale of 1 to 5. Certainly, being pressed for time doesn’t help stress, either.

One of your primary roles as a leader is to clearly define your employees’ jobs and responsibilities. If team members struggle to keep up with their workloads, they are probably stretching themselves thin trying to help others, or putting off work to avoid accountability.

When you talk to an employee who claims to be short on time, determine what his or her current projects are and then contain them. Give this employee specific responsibilities that don’t require relying on co-workers, and see how he or she meets these new expectations and goals. If the employee continues to underperform, look for a replacement, although it is not a bad idea to put out feelers for that replacement before you even have the above discussion.

Related: Richard Branson on How to Train Your Employees

2. “I cannot control this”

The ability to find a solution to a work problem is an indicator of someone who “owns” the situation. This is a characteristic you need to see in employees. When I worked at Dell, we had a substantial drop in traffic and couldn’t figure out why. Eventually, we discovered that our laptop batteries were catching fire. Unfortunately, you can’t advertise or email your way out of a drop in traffic due to a problem like that; but you can turn to your partners in crisis communication and social media.

If you give employees all the tools necessary to solve problems and they still can’t succeed, it’s time to reevaluate their fit in the company. By letting them go, you ultimately keep them from stagnating. If you struggle with this concept, look toward Startups.co CEO Wil Schroter, who has said he views his company as a school for employees. When employees get to the point that they would learn better elsewhere, it is time for them to move on.

When you let go one of these employees, make sure that the high performers you do have feel appreciated. Talk to their co-workers to ensure that in the interim, everyone’s roles and responsibilities are firmly established. Also, involve the rest of your employees in the subsequent hiring process so they have some control over who is named as the replacement.

3. “It wasn’t me” 

According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace report, worldwide employee engagement sits at a lowly 15 percent. Employees with low engagement often have a decreased sense of responsibility for their work, which wreaks havoc on productivity and accountability.

The most toxic situation is when employees attempt to deflect their own poor performance onto surrounding team members. These individuals rarely admit fault but instead cast broad accusations in an attempt to throw co-workers under the bus. As a last-ditch effort, such employees will even question the data that illuminates their underperformance.

Tough love is the solution here. Like an unfaithful partner who’d rather talk about other people who cheat instead of his own indiscretions, the underperforming employee will try to direct the conversation away from his or her performance. But don’t let that happen: Stay the course and let this employee go.

Related: 7 Signs You Have A Positioning Problem [And Why Familiarity Kills Businesses]

Then, during your subsequent hiring process, be mindful of the departed employee’s character flaw. Ask questions about challenges each candidate faced at previous jobs. Be wary when interviewees shift blame to others or speak poorly about their previous employers.

Most importantly, be realistic about your employees and do your best to fill any gaps with the strongest candidates you can find. And accept the truth: You will never be entirely comfortable about firing people.

If you are, you might not have the empathy required to make a great leader. However, it is part of your job to ensure that your seats are filled with top talent, so be loyal to your whole team and know when to let under-performers go.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Managing Staff

7 Simple Steps To Strategise For 2019’s Success

To make that happen you will need to start strategising soon. So let’s talk about how all of us can create effective team strategies for 2019.

Revel Africa

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With the buzz and hoopla in full swing this holiday season, as managers and business owners it’s good to remember that the new year is right around the corner. We all want next year to be better than this one, and you probably have a few improvements in mind that you want to see come to fruition.

To make that happen you will need to start strategising soon. So let’s talk about how all of us can create effective team strategies for 2019.

1. First, clarify your goals

To know what the new year should look like, start by understanding what this year was like. Pull reports now while data is fresh, and look at this year’s performance. Identify the changes you’d like to see in the upcoming year.

Then you can clearly see what you want your team to achieve in the new year:

  • What specific metrics need work?
  • Do you want to see an increase in overall revenues by a certain percentage?
  • How about improving productivity and cutting costs?

2. Time to plan

Once you have an idea of what needs changing you can work out the details of how you will achieve it.

Consider the SMART acronym when putting your plan together. Is your plan:

  • Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
  • Measurable (meaningful, motivating).
  • Achievable (agreed, attainable).
  • Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based).
  • Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive)

As leaders we need to lead with clarity and decisiveness, but we will do well to gain the input and ideas of those we lead.

Once you have your plan in place, you can bring in your team.

Related: Planning A Year End Function On A Budget? Five Fabulous Tips To Get The Most Bang For Your Buck

3. Book a break-away meeting

Plan your meeting after the holiday season has passed. The start of the year is a good time, as everything has calmed down, minds are fresh, and people are ready for vision. So, early in January, bring your key management team together and let them know you would like to discuss the goals for the upcoming year.

Plan a meeting away from the office so that the usual distractions are eliminated, and you can all focus on the key objectives. Sometimes we need help arranging these things, like finding a great venue, arranging food, including ice-breakers, creative starters and games to get the juices flowing, and so on. This is not your core skill set, so consider hiring an event planner and an MC to keep the day on track, so that you can focus on the main thing – getting the team focused and energised for success in 2019.

4. Setup the meeting agenda

Start the meeting by bringing everyone up to speed by reviewing last year’s stats. Show the results that you reviewed and allow them to see where the areas of success were, as well as the areas that need attention. If you haven’t already, recognise the team members who stood out in various important aspects of the business. This is tremendously motivating and encouraging.

Get a conversation going either in small teams, or around the table where ideas are brainstormed for how to solve the areas that need improvement. Find out from the team why they think the business struggled in these areas, and how they think improvements can be made.

Your agenda could cover these conversation starters:

  1. What are the three most important objectives for this year. Think “big picture” here, things that touch on profit and future achievement.
  2. Who is responsible for each of these?
  • What will you do?
  • How will you do it?
  • By when will you do it?
  1. Break the year up into monthly metrics and put quarterly goal-planning reviews on your calendar. This commits you to pause and measure every 90 days, while keeping a close eye on profits, clients, projects, revenue in 30-day intervals.
  2. Link up. Remember, lone wolves starve to death. Think about who can you partner with in 2019 to reach your goals – who are your advocates, allies, referral sources, and potential joint venture partners who can help you leapfrog over obstacles and who complement your own products and services. Get contact details and build your relationship with them so you can collaborate more closely – starting right now.

Remember to take breaks that are fun and creative in order to unhook from this intense deep dive into strategy. You don’t want to burn out your team right at the start of the year. Keep snacks, water, and activities going so that they have fuel to keep on but start the year motivated and positive.

5. Draw up the final plan

Once done, it is time to go through all of the input you have received to supplement your strategies, and draw up the final plan. When your final plan is ready, bring the remainder of your team together and lay out the plan for 2019. This can be done via a video recording, Skype, an email, a meeting, or one-on-one conversations, depending on the size and locations of your team. Be clear about what they need to bring to the table in 2019 and how it will be measured. Then ask for a commitment from each team member to work toward the improvement in the coming year.

6. Tracking and Measuring

Once the team is committed and bought into the 2019 strategy, you’ve only just begun. Set policies and procedures in place to track progress, provide updates, and hold people accountable to their commitments. Some managers might opt to check the metrics daily and send out weekly updates, while others may check weekly and send out monthly updates. Whatever you decide, consistency is key to ensure you stay on track to achieve your goals in 2019.

7. Invest in resources for success in 2019

As this year winds down, commit yourself to leading, motivating, and inspiring your team to work together towards your common goal. Plan how you can come alongside your managers to ensure their success by offering mentoring, support, training, and whatever resources they need to achieve these goals.Their success is ultimately your success.

Similarly it might be a good time to invest more into your own growth – consider a mentor for the year ahead who can help take you past your own limitations and rutted thinking. Read books on leadership and other’s business successes; plan three mini-holidays in the year to keep you sharp and focused. Remember you can only give to others what you yourself have.

This simple yet effective strategy can be applied to whatever type of business you are in, and can help you gain the buy-in of your vision by your team and make 2019 a year of achievable success.

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Managing Staff

The Value Of Employee Growth

When you’re running a fresh and shiny new business, how do you ensure your employees feel like they have a place to go?

Chris Ogden

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Investing into the future of an employee is a complex task at the best of times. Well-established organisations battle to manage employee expectations and growth trajectories so what options does a startup have when it is still finding its feet? While having an agile and energetic young company is often enough of a drawcard for talent, you still need to create pathways that are unique to your business and that allow for employees to grow, both personally and professionally.

Step 01: Embrace difference

Recognise that your business is made up of a variety of different roles and that each one offers different employee pathways. You need to find the pathways and roles that suit an employee’s personality and their idea of where they want to grow.

It’s in seeing these differences and embracing them that you are already providing your employees with a voice and showing them that they are heard.

Related: 5 Benefits Of Turning Your Employee Into An Intrapreneur

Step 02: Be inventive

Find a way of creating growth opportunities even with the few roles you have in your business. For example, you could create a methodology that has tiered levels within a specific role. Then a person has opportunity to expand their skills and responsibilities in that role. This would work for roles that are fixed, like an office admin, or for roles that are flexible.

Step 03: Finance and responsibility

Outline how a person can grow financially and show them the additional objectives and responsibilities their role offers. Some people aren’t just about the money, they want more to do and they don’t want to be bored.

Step 04: Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

It is essential that you measure people so that you can create opportunity for them. Tell them their KPIs so that they have benchmarks and everyone has expectations. This allows you to let people know when they are or are not doing well.

They can assess their performance properly and there is no risk of people having differing expectations that impact on ability or role. You must openly and honestly review employees and yourself.

Related: 6 Ways To Build Your Business With Employee-Entrepreneurs

Step 05: Encourage mentorship

It’s really worth encouraging people to guide or mentor one another. Some people may stay in your business for years, some only for a few months, but you want to see them all grow. By creating an environment that inspires people to mentor and guide one another, you’re ensuring that every person in your business is given a chance to teach and to learn.

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Managing Staff

Peak Performance: How To Get The Best Out Of Your Business Team

Understand and more importantly apply the following to your business and you too can dramatically improve the experience of your employees and ironically, with that people over profit approach attain profits never seen before.

Dirk Coetsee

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“Sell your cleverness and purchase awe”

Rumi

Under the periphery of Leadership and humanitarian philosophies lies the reality of people not always being understood nor treated well in their workplaces. Albeit that lip service is often paid to a people over profit Leadership style few entrepreneurs or companies bring it to life to its fullest potential.

Those select few leaders whom have had the awesome experience of leading business teams that are inspired, constantly learn new skills and sharpen existing ones, are change adept, with behaviours aligned to the business vision, and solving problems within a ‘family environment’ of mutual trust and respect have indeed ‘sold their cleverness and have purchased awe’.

Understand and more importantly apply the following to your business and you too can dramatically improve the experience of your employees and ironically, with that people over profit approach attain profits never seen before.

Related: Peak Performance: Multiply Personal And Team Business Performance

If it is to be it is up to me

tony-robbins

The author totally agrees with Tony Robbins who states that “Business is 20% technical and 80% psychology”. The state of your business and the performance of your business team is so much dependent upon your state as an entrepreneur, business owner, or investor. Your psychological  state as a tapestry weaved together by your thinking, beliefs and behaviours influences all aspects of the business.

If you demand states of positivity, peak performance, massive and confident actions from your team you yourself better embody those states day in, day out.

Luminaries and leaders such as Jim Kwik (Brain and learning expert) , Tony Robbins (World leading Life coach and Billionaire entrepreneur) , Ed Mylet (Entrepreneur and passionate advocate for peak performance) take control of their lives, days, and states by consciously doing a variety of practises each morning to ensure that they are at optimal levels of performance and state as they approach a new day.

Conscious , focussed, and mindful efforts such as ‘NLP Peak state exercises’, Meditation, Prayer, reading, visualisations, breathing exercises,  and physical exercise can be very impactful with regards to your daily engagements as a leader or entrepreneur.

I love what Ed Mylet has to say about self-confidence and influence:

Self-confidence comes from keeping promises to yourself which equals self-trust’. We all lose self-confidence and self-trust when we keep on promising to ourselves that we will start exercising or stop smoking and we never do. Start keeping promises to yourself as a matter of honour.

‘Influencing is not making others believe but its’ about showing them that you truly believe in what you are saying’.

Inspire instead of motivate

Be future orientated in deed and speech as an Entrepreneur. Hold and treasure an inspiring future Vision in front of your team and ‘sweat and bleed’ alongside them to actualise that vision. ‘First seek to understand and then to be understood’, as the late Leadership expert Stephen Covey said, in relation to your communication style. Most of all love your team and foster a culture of self-improvement, growth and learning.

Tell inspiring and true stories in relation to the vision and team members’ behaviours that are in alignment with your companies’ vision. Motivation is fickle and tied to your will-power which is finite.

Sincerely hold on to an inspiring future vision and defining Purpose which can provide infinite inspiration.

Related: Business Leadership – Learn How To Embrace Change

Entrepreneurs and leaders create environments for team members to thrive in

The ultimate ‘hack’ in relation to performance for entrepreneurs and leaders is to create an environment for their co-team members within which they can thrive, creatively contribute, and feel as part of a family that is actualising an inspiring future vision.

When team members do not feel safe or trusted they spend a lot of time creating safety nets (even sometimes false ones) for themselves as opposed to actually doing their work. Lead by inspiring example and actually do what you say you will do all in alignment with the companies’ vision and values and your team members will trust and follow you.

Personalise their rewards and constantly demonstrate that you care about them as people and value them as highly important contributors to the attainment of the companies cause.

Go forth and lead your team to the peak of your collective performance!

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