Now that the Holidays are behind us and we are facing the first full week of the new year, how do you feel about 2020? I know that is a trick question. Will it be better than 2019? This year my blogs and newsletters are going to be focused on addressing problems that you have. As I meet with business owners, and hear about common struggles, I will share what I learn with you. I want to help you make 2020 a breakout year for you and your business. Today, let’s talk about how to accelerate your growth.
Accelerate Your Growth
At the end of last year (2019) I talked to a surprising number of business owners that didn’t see their businesses improve from 2018. Revenue and profits were just about the same year to year. One of the reasons I found this surprising is because I met with a few business owners that said their business was booming with huge year to year returns. I found the contrast odd, and often it was within the same industries. So, what is the difference?
Employee performance underpins everything a company accomplishes. There is no doubt that the better your employees perform, the better the company performs. Absenteeism, turnover and a lack of wiliness to change all hurt performance. These problems are typically caused by low employee engagement, although the root cause of low engagement will different for everyone.
Typically, I see companies take a team approach to employee engagement, instead of making it about the employee. Companies will bring in experts in team building to conduct workshops or have social events so “everyone can get to know each other”. Teambuilding is not engagement. Engaged teams do perform better as a team, but teambuilding doesn’t build engagement.
To improve employee performance, I recommend that you:
- Make sure you have the right people in the right jobs based on desire, capabilities and aptitude.
- Find those employees that might be toxic to your culture and deal with them appropriately. It will show strong leadership on your part.
- Improve communication with your employees. Understand what motivates them and discuss assignments in ways that get them excited.
I once sat in a staff meeting where my boss was sharing a new initiative from our executive. He unilaterally decided he wasn’t going to implement the new initiative because he thought it was the “flavor of the month.” Although he set a poor example, (if he didn’t listen to his boss, why should I listen to him?) he was right. The initiative was never implemented, and there were no consequences. Now, how effective do you think that executive is going to be? Do you think there was going to be any positive impact? Probably not.
In most companies, things don’t happen just because the boss says go make it happen. Sure, something might happen, but people don’t generally respond favorably to a direct order. “Because I said so” is not a recommended management technique. If you want to make sure your decisions are implemented, you need to engage your employees. The most effective way to do this, is to have a system in place where your employees (the ones implementing your ideas) have some input into the decision and how it will be implemented. When decisions are made, explain why a certain decision was made. Keep in mind to use different communications styles so your message is received.
Develop your employees. Help them build the skills necessary to perform at a high level. I have had a lot of discussion recently about how to do this, so I am going to share some guidelines.
Create development plans to help your employees develop skills for this job and the next. Development plans should be based on company objectives. For example, if you are implementing a new technology or going after a new product line. Create a training program that will have the most lasting impact. Consider using instructor lead, online, or on the job training. Consider how the person will be involved, a manager might not need the same type of training as a technician responsible for doing the work.
Employee development should be designed to develop new skills the company needs to take the organization into the future. If you cannot draw a straight line from the training to the business objective, you should consider if your training is necessary.
This Week’s Challenge
If your performance in 2019 was less than impressive, or if you want to make sure that 2020 is a breakout year, start with employee performance. Get your team motivated, engaged, and excited about what this year has to offer. Employee engagement isn’t about making people happy, it’s about driving business forward and ultimately, you will accelerate your growth.
If you need help, or would like to learn more about how to drive performance, productivity and profits, please reach out to me. I’ll be happy to help!