Posts Tagged ‘employee productivity’

How to Stop Poor Performance From Draining your Company

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

I obviously don’t work for your company, but my experience tells me there is a better than average chance that you have subpar performers that you’re letting work at your company and it is draining your company’s productivity, profit, and growth.  I wish I was wrong but I see it everywhere, every day in every industry.

Think about the poor performers in your life.  At work, at school, at church, at the stores you frequent, maybe even at home. Infuriating isn’t.  Missed deadlines, waiting in line, poor customer service, sloppy or slow processes, etc. Do you feel your blood pressure rising?  Believe me, top performers really appreciate having to do more work to cover for their uninspired co-workers. In fact that’s a leading cause of turnover for top performers – burn out over cleaning up the messes made by their slack co-workers AND frustration that their managers will not clean it up.poorperformance

Bruce Tulgan, noted management author and thought leader and past speaker at CAI’s HR Management Conference believes that “undermanagement” is one of the most detrimental phenomenon affecting business today.  He wrote a best-selling book called “It’s OK To Be The Boss.”  Why are so many managers not “being the boss” and letting poor performance slide?   We hear things like…

  • “Well Sally is better than having no one in the job and it’s hard to find good people.”
  • “At our pay Jim is the best we can afford.”
  • “I’m not dealing with this behavior because I know other managers let it slide.”
  • “I don’t have time to deal with Terry.”
  • “Don has been here forever and he’s always been this way, why should I have to deal with it?”

HR is blamed a lot.

  • “Our HR Department won’t let us fire anyone around here.”
  • “I would address it, but HR won’t let me because Joe is in a protected category.”
  • And on and on.

Poor Performance generally comes in three categories:

  1. Don’t know what to do.  Many employees regularly wander around our workplaces not knowing what is expected of them.  This category of poor performance rests with Managers, who simply need to take the time to provide clearer expectations for their employees.  Most people will perform just fine when they know what to do.
  2. Can’t do what you’re asking.  Sometimes we can salvage this “can’t-do” category with training.  Sometimes, though training will not correct the performance and in those cases the employee should be transferred to an open job they can do or they need to go work for someone else.
  3. Won’t do what you’re asking.  This is the most dangerous category.  Employees who won’t do what you’re asking create tremendous problems in the workplace every day.  Whether they vocalize their refusal or utilize more subtle activities, like slowing down, or overlooking things, there is only one solution for these people – they need to leave, and soon.

I once heard it put, hire slow and fire fast.  Good words to live by.  Yet I frequently find companies actually do the opposite – they hire quickly and impulsively and then take forever to separate the problem employee.  Many performance problems are really hiring problems in disguise.  So my advice, take more time assessing candidates. Most HR professionals know within the first five minutes of orientation if a new hire will make it or not.  Why didn’t they uncover that earlier?  HR professionals sometimes tell me the line managers decided to hire the person against HR’s advice.  So who is at fault?  I advise HR professionals to stand their ground and use turnover data to make your case.  And once you know someone is a poor performer, address it quickly. Fairly and respectfully, yes, but quickly.

The time between losing confidence in someone and them leaving is one of the most expensive in a manager’s life.  So if you’re a manager, start being the boss and quit letting poor performance slide and quit hiring people that should not work for your company because you are desperate. Your employees will thank you, because believe me they know who shouldn’t be there and they talk about it and suffer through it every day.  If you’re in HR do not let a lawsuit that will probably never happen overly impact how you deal with problems.  The EEOC actually dismisses two-thirds of all claims filed and only finds cause in about 3% of the charges it receives each year.  However, letting poor performers remain is a real problem that is draining your company every day.  I’m not advocating for a wild west management style absent of warnings and second chances.  I am suggesting we run our companies in a way that maximizes results versus running it out of fear.  After all a rising tide lifts all boats right!

I know this sounds pretty straightforward.  Who doesn’t get this right?  Ask yourself that question the next time as a consumer you have a bad customer experience at the hands of a problem employee.  You’ll be in that situation sometime this week and you’ll ask yourself why that company lets that person treat its customers that way.  Well, for the same reason it’s allowed at your company.  Think about it.

If you need help dealing with problem performance at your company please reach out to our Advice and Resolution team.  They answer thousands of questions each year that deal with performance management.

 

doug

Doug Blizzard brings a wealth of knowledge to CAI, serving as Vice President of Membership. During his first 15 years at CAI he led the firm’s consulting and training divisions and counseled hundreds of clients on HR and Employee Relations issues. If he isn’t speaking at North Carolina conferences, teaching classes on Human Resources or consulting clients on EEO and Affirmative Action, Doug is leading the company’s membership services.

 

Improve Employee Efficiency by Updating Your Workplace Practices

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

August Quote blog

Albert Einstein once said, “If the facts don’t fit the theory, change the facts.” Is this quote applicable to your workplace? Is your organization meeting its business goals? Are you making all of your deadlines? Are your employees engaged and is their productivity high? If you can’t answer yes to all of these questions, you may need to reconsider some of your workplace practices.

A positive company culture and a helpful set of workplace guidelines will help you reach your business goals. They will also help you create more positive relationships with your employees, which will raise their job satisfaction and morale. There are a number of steps your organization can take to incorporate constructive employer practices. Check out a few examples below:

Give constant feedback

No matter their age or tenure at your company, your employees want to know how their work performance measures up. Regularly informing your employees about their work performance is beneficial for your organization because you’ll learn more about your employees and the workload they can or can’t handle. For five ways to offer feedback to your employees, please visit here: http://blog.capital.org/employees-will-seek-consistent-feedback-in-the-new-year/.

Be clear and transparent with communication

An organization that has issues with clearly communicating to their workforce will have a hard time reaching success. By practicing transparency and good communications, you’ll gain trust from your employees. They’ll likely be motivated to be more productive as well. Find out the most common causes of workplace miscommunication here: http://blog.capital.org/five-common-causes-of-miscommunication-in-the-workplace-and-how-to-avoid-them/ and find solutions that will help you communicate effectively here: http://blog.capital.org/are-you-communicating-effectively/.

Invest in training for your managers

Researchers have found that many times the reason why employees leave or aren’t as productive is because the people leading them aren’t doing a good job. Managers and supervisors have several items on their plate, but one of their most important items is developing and overseeing their direct reports. Before you promote your next manager, make sure you offer them proper training. Here are some ideas: http://blog.capital.org/ongoing-training-helps-managers-reach-success/.

For additional help on increasing workplace productivity and meeting your company goals, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Overcoming a Toxic Workplace: Insights from Communication Expert Laura Hamilton

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

When Sunday afternoon rolls around, do you become worried or start to feel sick as you anxiously anticipate your return to the office?

Laura Hamilton, communication expert and president of her own consulting business based in Winston-Salem, N.C., says that being worried sick about going to work is a sign that your workplace is toxic. Workers in toxic environments usually have a gut feeling that something is awry in the company, says Laura.

Employees in these environments might feel as though opportunities to grow are limited and that working with their coworkers is challenging. Depending on how toxic their workplace is, employees may also feel a sense of panic, anxiety or that they have no place to go or no one to turn to for help.

Laura says that several factors help foster a toxic atmosphere. Individuals who partake in bullying, self-righteous or self-absorbed behavior can add to workplace chaos. Employees who strive for perfection or use passive-aggressive tactics to make their points can cause stress to their coworkers. Setting impossible project deadlines or practicing unfair bonus competitions can also make your staff feel overwhelmed.

If your environment is harmful, you should hold your management team partly responsible because research shows that a work environment is a reflection of how things run at the top. Laura points out that there are cases where one disgruntled employee can destroy the productivity in an entire department as well.

If you don’t take action to correct your toxic workplace, your company could suffer some of the following consequences:

  • Loss of productivity
  • Financial losses that affect the bottom line
  • Increase in absenteeism
  • Increase in insurance claims for stress-related diseases
  • Production of low-quality work

Not only will your business be affected, but Laura says that your employees will soon show wear and tear from the negative environment. Employees working under toxic conditions can feel anxious or angry. They may lose confidence or isolate themselves from their coworkers. Laura says that most employees don’t realize they are under so much pressure and stress, as their work environment becomes their “new normal.”

Unfortunately, management may not be aware of the toxic environment they are letting build up, says Laura. Although many workers might be hesitant to go to upper management and report how their work environment is affecting them, management can’t fix a problem if they don’t know one exists. Address the serious situation with your management team, and suggest ways that your company’s environment can be more positive and productive.

Laura Hamilton can be reached at Laura@laurahamilton.com for additional questions relating to toxic environments.

Strategies for Creating Highly-Efficient Teams

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

You have worked on teams since grade school. Some of your experiences with teams have been rewarding, leading to success, and some have been unpleasant, leading to unresolved conflicts and missed opportunities. As an HR professional, you know that there are many teams within your organization, which is the largest team. Knowing how to shape teams to benefit the productivity of your company will help employees reach business goals more creatively, collaboratively and efficiently.

Back in grade school, there was always at least one member of the team who did not want to pull his weight. In a company setting, laziness should not be permitted. A well-engineered team can accelerate problem-solving and propel innovation to create unprecedented success for your organization. So, it is important for all staff members to play their parts.

Teamwork

Try implementing some of the techniques below to invoke positive team-building skills at your organization:

  • Create measurable goals. Unattainable goals will take a team nowhere. Base team objectives on prior business performance and the strengths of each member. Aggressiveness for obtaining goals is good, but being unrealistic in aspirations will waste time.

 

  • Establish expectations. Delegation and accountability are essential for maintaining a great team dynamic. Make sure everyone knows their role and what they are responsible for in order to meet deadlines and achieve results.

 

  • Advocate for open communication. One of the greatest benefits of team work is the diversity and creativity that comes from bringing people of various backgrounds and skill sets together. However, this also means that conflict can occur. Encourage each team member to express their opinions and ideas freely while also listening and respecting the views of others.

 

  • Do not settle. It is excellent when teams assemble strong workflows that yield many positive outcomes. Having success is satisfying, but you can always work harder to attain better results or develop a more productive process. Periodically hold discussions with team members to see if there are areas in which the group can improve and grow.

 

For more information on forming effective teams at your workplace, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: Highways Agency

Ways to Monitor and Manage Declining Employee Performance

Friday, July 29th, 2011

Do you have a problem employee whose productivity and attitude have noticeably soured?

Donald Trump would just yell, “You’re fired!” But there are other ways to handle the situation.

Confronting an employee whose performance is declining is not something you can put off until tomorrow, because poor performance in the workplace can be contagious and negatively affect the morale and productivity of other employees. No matter how unpleasant or difficult it is, you must talk with the problem employee right away.  Find out what’s impacting his or her personal and/or workplace life.

The personal reasons for an employee’s declining performance can run the gamut, and may include:

  • employee is dealing with a health issue
  • marital or family problems
  • alcohol or drug dependency

Workplace-related reasons for declining employee performance can be just as varied. A few examples are:

  • employee is overworked
  • problems with a manager or coworkers
  • boredom

If the reasons are personal, you must not attempt to counsel the employee unless you are certified in that area as a counselor. You can help the employee gain access to a psychologist or other professional counselor, however.

Have Written, Explicitly Defined Performance Standards

As the typical manager or HR professional, you are qualified to counsel the employee strictly about work-related performance. But before you can establish the fact of poor performance, you must have written, explicitly defined performance standards against which you can effectively measure an employee’s work history. Once both employer and the employee agree that there has indeed been recently unsatisfactory job performance, you can begin to monitor and manage the situation.

Be Ready To Change Your Management Approach To the Problem Employee

A troubled employee may require a different management approach from you than he or she required previously. For instance, an employee who previously exhibited a confident, self-reliant work ethic may need closer supervision and direction for a while, until his or her performance issues become resolved. You will find that problem employees will require more of your support, time and attention.

In an emotionally charged situation with an angry, frustrated employee, you will have to listen carefully, display empathy or at least unbiased understanding, and be ready to help the employee seek a solution to the problem.

If the employee has a true grievance, such as sexual harassment, you must be prepared to take immediate steps to protect the individual and address the legal issues.

It is important to obtain a commitment from the problem employee to agree to partner with you (and others) to correct his or her poor performance. Establish a written plan of action, and set up a series of meetings that will occur regularly until the problem is resolved.

Many good employees may go through periods of poor performance due to a number of factors beyond either your control or theirs. Dealing with declining productivity and poor morale is among the biggest challenges a manager or HR pro will ever face, but if you meet the challenge squarely, objectively and with compassion, it can turn into a win-win-win situation for the employee, you and the company.

For additional information about how you can manage an employee’s declining performance, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel team at (919) 878-9222 or (336) 668-7746.

Photo source: frozenchipmunk

Improving and Maximizing Employee Efficiency

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

Productivity is the name of the game. It is easy for employers to fall into the trap of believing that high levels of stress combined with a busy work life create the most effective results from employees, but that may not be the case. Employees are often just as effective without operating under high tension and hectic work/life schedules. Consider Fortune magazine’s list of “100 Best Companies To Work For” and you will see that a common thread spanning the majority of top organizations is the repetitive mention of high productivity and happy employees.

Shifting the workplace environment may be easier than you think. By adjusting your company mindset and assisting employees in becoming their most productive selves you promote a more efficient organization overall. Here are three ways to do that:

Make information fully accessible – Can your employees work easily from airports, hotel rooms and the home office? When completing assignments offsite runs as seamlessly as sitting in the company office, efficiency will inevitably increase. Employees may surprise you with the additional work they can complete outside the regular 8 to 5 routine when the proper systems are put in place for continuous access.

Become more flexible – Does last year’s model still fit the current staff and system of your company? Though structure is essential to the livelihood of an organization, your company’s working hours should occasionally be reevaluated. Early mornings, late evenings or longer work days – the level of productivity will improve when you identify the various ways your employees operate best.

Provide for employee needs – Have you evaluated the needs of your staff and if those needs are being met? Discuss with employees what they need to be more effective in their job, as they may vary from what you believe is best suited. Employee needs can be as small as a file folder for better organization or as large as dual monitors for completing assignments, but hear them out and consider the benefits as a whole.

For additional information on employee efficiency, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel team at (919) 878-9222 or (336) 668-7746.

Photo source: Hugo90

Optimizing Efficiency And Productivity In Your Organization

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

In today’s fast-paced business environment, many employers are analyzing office efficiency and productivity, and implementing policies and technologies to improve both. Listed below are 10 policies and procedures designed specifically to maximize office efficiency and productivity. Following these tips can help create a more enjoyable, productive and cost-effective work environment.

  1. Clean desks. Establish a company practice where employees maintain a clean and efficient workspace. Furthermore, schedule monthly cleanups to reduce clutter around the office.
  2. Scheduling tools. Regardless of which office tool you use to track the whereabouts and activities of employees, make certain all employees use it to notify the rest of the team when they are traveling, at a client site, working from home or on vacation.
  3. Wireless capability. Build an infrastructure that allows server and e-mail access wherever an individual may be in the office (e.g., conference room, training room, etc.).
  4. Cell phone options. Encourage employees to share their cell phone numbers with co-workers so they can be contacted when out of the office or traveling. Make sure all employees respect the privacy of their co-workers and keep all shared cell numbers confidential.
  5. Training to share. Train employees in technology that allows and encourages remote sharing of information like SharePoint, Skype, WebEx, Live Meeting or GoToMeeting.
  6. Reservations protocols. Set aside specific meeting spaces that must be “reserved” for use, and communicate to employees how and when to reserve them. Also, if available, designate a smaller room/area for “on demand” meetings that do not need to be reserved.
  7. Concentration indicators. Establish methods for employees to indicate their “unavailability” for meetings, contact or interruptions during times when concentration is paramount. This can be something as simple as a closed door or phone on “do not disturb,” or the use of scheduling tools to carve out a block of time as “busy” or “unavailable.”
  8. Electronic filing standards. Design and implement an efficient electronic filing system to eliminate duplication of information and the administrative time required for manual filing. Centralize printing facilities in strategic locations on the floor to mitigate excessive printing and minimize noise in the open workspace.
  9. Daylight! Research indicates people are more productive when work environments provide an open view to the outside environment. Allow blinds and interior doors to remain open when possible.
  10. Encourage community. Create opportunities where individuals can share their personal experiences or skills. Reserve time in meetings where the agenda allows for personal communication, rather than completely focusing on business.

If you have questions about maximizing productivity and efficiency, please contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.