As the year winds down, I want to remind everyone that the customer, while vital, is only half our management audience. After a long, tiring season full of challenges and hard work, we all need to think about the players on our teams. If you’re honest, you’ll face the fact that, in every company, on every team, there are winners and losers.
Oh, I understand that you appreciate your good performers, the ones who show up each day, follow training procedures and meet expectations. You are surely grateful for every helpful customer communication at the door, on the landscape or via a hand-written note. And we all love those who hit goals consistently. But gratitude and appreciation will not amount to much unless you communicate those positive feelings in a meaningful way to your winners. Take it from me; you CAN make a difference in the way you are perceived by your staff.
So, now is the time to let your staff know how you feel about their work. After the Thanksgiving holiday, front line workers in our business begin to assess the year and wonder….was it worth it? Should I stick around after I get my year end bonus?
If people feel appreciated and understand that you consider them to be important contributors to overall company results, they will be more motivated to stay on and become smarter, more productive veterans next season. Make that happen now.
Do the following to maximize positive motivation now:
· Have a private, one-on-one discussion with each individual on your team. Review their contribution and verbally acknowledge their personal importance on your team. Give examples of positive performance that made a difference. When people feel important their self image and confidence is enhanced. Do this in private, maybe over lunch or a beer.
· Look for ways to help people grow. All of us are motivated as we feel more knowledgeable and useful. Now is the time to determine which people you can grow with next year. Who has the skill to grow? Which people have expressed an interest in learning more, taking on greater responsibility? When you decide, your next step is to provide additional training. That can be accomplished through cross-training with other team members or attending educational seminars and events. Pick topics you know will help and follow up to be sure the learning was taken seriously.
· Ask each team member how you can be a better leader. The very fact that you show an open willingness to hear feedback, positive or negative, is important to employee motivation. If people with ‘issues’ feel you are attempting to make improvements, it makes a big difference in attitude.
What about the ‘others’?
As you embrace your winners, this is also the time to get rid of those who are either unwilling to meet your expectations and/or are simply negative players. DO NOT go into the new-year with them aboard!
If you have provided appropriate job skill training, followed up with coaching on the job and allowed a fair amount of time for the employee to meet reasonable expectations, you have met your management leadership obligation. Everyone doesn’t succeed. Your obligation is now to the overall success of your team.
This I know, if you’ve done your best to train and provide inspirational leadership…and still have a loser on your hands, it’s time to cut bait. Hoping and praying for an attitudinal ‘turn around’ is a lot like buying a lottery ticket and expecting to win. Get the ‘losers’ off your team now.