TradePost would like to welcome back Bonnie Cox, founder of Power Training Institute, to build on last week's topic of inspiring your employees to perform by using the relevant "love language." Bonnie offers up some words of wisdom when it comes to the mistakes managers often make when trying to motivate their employees.
Don't you wish there was a magic wand that would transform your underperforming employees into superstars? Unfortunately developing an outstanding staff is not quite that simple, but avoiding three big mistakes will make motivating employees a much simpler process with higher performance, productivity, and morale at the end of the day.
Mistake #1: Employees don't understand what a "job well done" looks like.
Have you ever seen an employee who arrives on time and works steadily all day, but deadlines are missed and unimportant fluff comes before high priorities? Are they lazy? Unmotivated? Careless? Perhaps they just don't know what is expected of them.
If performance expectations are not set clearly and quickly, then there can be no accountability for an employee's behaviors or actions. A Florida State University study found that less than 20 percent of employees are certain they know what is expected of them at work each day, with the majority reporting varying levels of clarity concerning responsibilities. That means only 20% of your staff knows what a "job well done" looks like! The other 80% is unsure about what their job responsibilities are and whether they're performing them well.
Job expectations should be goals that are set together with you and the employee from the start. These expectation conversations are an ongoing dialogue, but need to start within the first week of employment.
Mistake #2: Employees aren't held responsible for results until their annual review.
Let's say that you've hired a new person on your team and you sat them down and had a productive performance conversation within the first week of their hire date. Together, you outlined goals that were definitive and attainable. Now three months later, that employee's large project is unfinished and behind schedule. Six months after that, the project is complete but there are gaps in the finished results. Three months later you sit down to have an annual review with the person, and they are shocked by the negative review. They thought they were doing so well!
This is a classic example of the second big mistake: lack of accountability. If employees don't receive feedback on their work at regular intervals, they will be surprised to hear in their annual review how unhappy you were with their work. As a manager, you should be meeting one-on-one with your employees regularly, offering feedback, and discussing project updates.
Mistake #3: Managers don't evaluate why poor performance happens.
The third mistake comes in two forms:
- Managers may not give any or enough feedback to employees about poor performance. Low motivation, poor quality, and other performance issues are rarely addressed or ignored altogether.
- Managers point out mistakes or unmet expectations, but they fail to ask why an employee doesn't perform up to standards.
As a manager, you have power and you could use your power to reprimand and take a punitive approach, but you should try other avenues first. The best way to evaluate poor performance is to ask questions and establish a plan going forward.
- "Do you feel motivated in your job?"
- "Do you think you've had the training you need to do your job well?"
- "What other tools do you need to be more proactive?"
- "How well does our company culture support your goals?"
- "What will be our plan going forward?"
These questions dig deep into the reasons behind an employee's performance. At the end of your conversation, you'll better understand an employee's behavior and you'll be able to establish renewed expectations and standards as part of your plan going forward.
There's no quick fix for bad behavior or poor performance. Transforming an employee into a superstar will take effort and time, but avoiding these three massive mistakes will get you about as close as you can to having the magic wand of motivation.
This blog post is based on PTI's half-day seminar "3 Mistakes Manager Make When Motivating." Call PTI today (805-456-5227) to equip your management staff with the knowledge to avoid these common mistakes.
Readers: Has any manager made other mistakes while trying to motivate you?