People Are Your Greatest Asset
People are your greatest asset. This is always true, but it is even more important during times of economic stress. The right people doing the right jobs can make the difference between success and failure. I think most business owners already understand this principle, but finding the right people, keeping the right people, and getting people to perform at their highest levels are constant concerns for business owners at all levels.
In a recent coaching session a client was talking with me about the struggles he was having with one of his employees. As he told his story, I began to understand the issues he faced. This client's story was very familiar. He had waited a long time to hire this employee because he was concerned about the problems he might have getting the work done in just the way he wanted it done. Now that he had someone working with him, he was struggling with how to make sure they were performing well, how to deal with mistakes or failure to perform according to standards, and how to keep the employee focused and motivated. After listening to his story, I shared these three simple rules for success in dealing with employees or contractors.
Rule one is, people respond to what you measure. This principle is so basic to success in human relations that is easy to miss. It is true in virtually every aspect of life. Do all of your employees have clearly defined measures of success? This is the first step to achieving the highest levels of performance and productivity. A definition of success is the first and most essential component of any good job description. Success must be defined in terms that the employee clearly understands and it must include measures that they can use to track it for themselves.
Often, the problem is employers have defined tasks or responsibilities, but have not clearly defined success. More important, they often fail to define clearly the measures of success. If you want your people to perform well, let them know what you expect, when you expect it to be accomplished, what the quality standards are, and how you are measuring their success on a daily, weekly, monthly basis.
Rule two, next time is better than should have. Let's face it; people are going to make mistakes. There will be times when your employees or contractors are not going to meet your expectations. The question is not if they will fail, but when. The more important question is, what will you do when they fail?
Too often our response to failure in people is to highlight the failure and focus on what they should have done. Here is the problem, should have is a backward looking principle. It focuses on the failure and leaves the employee or contractor feeling guilty or inadequate. There is a better approach.
Next time someone fails to live up to your expectations, instead of telling them what they should have done, discuss with them what they can and will do next time. When you approach problems this way, you are telling them how important they are to you. You are letting them know they still have a place on your team. You are giving them opportunities to learn and correct their behavior and increase their success. This will help them stay committed and motivated to do their best.
Rule three, people will work harder for a passion than they will for a paycheck. Don't get me wrong, people are money motivated, but there is more to most people than that. If you want to see your people reach their potential, give them something more to keep them motivated. Start with a clear statement of vision for your business. Make sure everyone on the team understands what you are working for. Build esprit de corps around the vision.
People like to know they are part of a team. So, build your team? This takes more than a pleasant work environment and an occasional pat on the back. Make sure everyone knows they are contributing to the team's success and they are needed. People like to make a difference. When they know their work is benefitting the team, they will often work even harder to make sure their part is complete.
People are your greatest asset. Make sure they know that you know that. Take time to give every employee regular feedback on their success. Focus on what makes you a team and keep the vision clear and fresh. Your people will keep your business growing.