I can’t get my employees to do the work that’s right in front of them. How can I expect to get free from my business if I can’t even get my employees to do what they’re suppose to be doing?
It’s frustrating for any employer to see work that is evident to you but is not being addressed by the employee whose job it is to complete this task. It could be this is a problem with motivation. If so it is time to discover someone in the job market excited about doing the work, but that’s the subject of another newsletter on recruiting. For the sake of this question let’s assume you have employees who want to do the work. Why wouldn’t they do that activity that is right in front of them?
There is any number of explanations but from our experience the number one reason is that most employees simply don’t know what is expected of them. Many of the people we hire have never been told what their responsibilities are for their position. They don’t do the work because they didn’t know it was their work to be done. Unfortunately most owners believe everyone should be like them and know what to do and take initiative to do it. Unfortunately the world and most of the occupants in it don’t work that way. In fact in case you didn’t notice our schools system doesn’t teach initiative. It works just the opposite and thus it is our duty as an employer, if we expect to get results, to create the systems to get our employees to perform correctly in order to get consistent predictable results every time. People are unpredictable right? It’s hard enough to get ourselves to do the right thing every time let alone expect others to do it. So we need to prompt them and two tools in our coaching work do exactly that.
First you need to create position contracts. These are our term for job descriptions. At the front end of the agreement is a result statement that broadly describes the outcome of the position. The position contracts we offer provide first a listing of the general work the position should perform outlined in strategic and tactical language. This is the "spirit" of the position, intended to make sure the scope of the job is understood and to prevent some of the gray area that often gets misunderstood as "that’s not my job." Then we develop the position specific standards. These are the exacting specifications that the employee is expected to live up to. In most cases these should be described in terms of the systems they need to follow. This allows for the job standards to expand as the systems change without having to change the position contract.
Yet even with a clearly defined "job description" there is no assurance the employee will follow it. How do you know your employees are following the letter of the position contract? You create a daily report that provides them with a checklist or menu of their specific duties each day to complete. At the end of the day your employee turns in that daily report chronicling their completion of their duties.
Is this a bit over kill you ask or like micro managing? It is if the employee and you feel that way. The truth is that most employees want to know that they are achieving the results expected of them. The completion of the daily report does that exactly. It tells them and you, their employer, that they have accurately met the standard that is expected of them. There’s no need for you to tell them what to do, it is spelled out specifically and they can keep their own score on how they are doing by completing the daily report. This how you teach and earn accountability. McDonald’s, Walgreen’s and any top franchise every day reports their daily sales totals to their franchisee. In fact they report them by the hour, by the product, by the cashier drawer, etc. Why do they do that? Isn’t it obvious? How can you manage what you don’t know? Management is about measurement, breaking the subjective into the objective. The problem for too many business owners is they are not measuring their employees. Their employees don’t know what’s expected of them so how can they produce what they don’t know?
Daily reporting requires an attention to detail at the tactical level of your business. The technicians in your business report daily to their supervisors, your supervisors complete a weekly report chronicling the work of their collective workforce and up the chain of command so that you have a seamless flow of information that tracks the effectiveness of your business. It’s the little things in a business that make the noticeable differentiations that add up to winning more customers. It’s not that the big picture isn’t important. It is. Extremely so. However in order for your business to be able to operate consistently and predictably you as the owner need to make sure all the details are being completed. That takes making sure expectations are clear and then monitoring employees to ensure they are meeting those standards. That allows you the opportunity to work without any concern about the details because each day you, your staff, your managers have confidence the work is being done to the exacting standards you expect because you are receiving confirmation of it through a daily reporting system.
Do the people you employee know what is expected of them? Are they able to tell you at the end of the day that they had a productive day or not? If they don’t know, how can you expect them to be responsible for completing the tasks of your business. Give them the tools to be productive, most of them want to know the score each day, to feel they have contributed. Do you have the tools at your command to put this in motion?