One of the greatest desires of business owners and managers is to have employees who are consistently top performers. This is because good performance results in exceeding set business goals which in turn lead to business growth and expansion alongside its many benefits to stakeholders.

Who doesn’t want to do well?

But which staff doesn’t want to do well? I’m yet to see any! Did God ever create anyone who loves to fail? Certainly not! Is it every staff or team member in an organization that produces at his/her best?  Capital NO! So why do people produce results that are less than they are capable of?

The reasons are not far-fetched. More often than not, the reasons are staring us in the face just that we refuse to see them because we are looking out for the big things. Just a step beyond the several scientific explanations we are used to, listed below are pragmatic reasons for the ‘below expectation’ performance of people in organizations and the ways to address them.

  1. They are employees and not partners with the business

Take care of your employees and they‘ll take care of your business,” says Richard Branson.

Naturally, there is a way we tend to handle things that are ours different from when they belong to others. Information and authority availability makes the difference. When you know how much impact the outcome of an action or event will have on you, there’s a way you handle it. There’s a difference between been paid a ‘salary’ no matter your input (big or small) compared to when you share money (profit). This has a big way of shaping things in organizations. There’s a way humans relate to things depending on their stake in it. Until your staff are moved from ‘employees’ to ‘partners’ with the business, you might not consistently get their best.

How to turn employees to partners

How can a business owner, manager or team leader turn employees to business partners? The answer is not far-fetched.  Although there can be other answers, one of the most profound is through effective communication. I mean the effective communication of the organization’s vision and mission in the short, mid and long terms. Through effective communication, the employees read beyond the letters and hear beyond the spoken words. You might then ask me, “How do we measure the effectiveness of such communication?”

How to measure the effectiveness of the communication

The communication is not effective if they can’t see their active role in it (what am I supposed to do and when?). The communication is short of effectiveness if it does not have a picture of a desirable future for them (will it give me a fulfilling life?). The effectiveness of the communication can be seen in its ability to showcase equitable and fair distribution of rewards in it (will I be entitled to fair rewards for my contributions? Is good reward a right or privilege?). An effective communication of a vision thrives on the personality of the communicator.

If your employees or team members are partners;

  • Training them and being actively interested and involved in their personal development will be an investment to you, not a cost.
  • Getting them involved in making key decisions and giving them adequate/relevant information about/for their job would not be a challenge to you. With a sense of belonging easily comes commitment and loyalty.
  • Unnecessary queries and threats of being sacked will be relegated to the background if it ever exists. You don’t wake up and sack a man from his business!
  • Good and equitable rewards for everyone will be easy. Enjoying the benefits of rewards well-earned serves as a good motivation for greater performance any time!
  • You won’t hold them down to long meetings where no one dare ask pertinent questions or oppose your opinions!

As you turn employees to business partners, they don’t work for you but for themselves!

  1. Your Performance Appraisal System is a witch hunting exercise!

Ever heard a boss who says, “We will meet on the appraisal day”? Some others would say ‘on the appraisal day, we will know who the boss is’; there are several other related statements as far as office performance appraisal is concerned.

In my professional relationship with several organizations over the years, I found out that many don’t know the purpose of performance appraisal. They see it as an avenue for witch-hunting rather than a tool for performance improvement. Performance Appraisal is a two way exercise; it’s simply a created opportunity to ask three simple questions:

  • Did we achieve the results we said we would achieve at this time using the tools/resources we said we would use?
  • What could we have done to get the desired results that we didn’t do and why?
  • What must we do to achieve our set goals within the given timeline using the resources we have?

Even though these questions are asked against the employee’s key result areas (KRA) for the set period, honest feedbacks are expected to help management make informed and mutually beneficial decisions. Once the environment is void of honesty, trust and right to freedom of expression for any reason, the appraisal system becomes a witch-hunt exercise; an opportunity to ‘hunt down and deal with any staff that has issues with the supervisor or disagrees with the manager’s views’ for diverse reasons.

Can They Speak Out Their Mind?

Who works very hard and speaks his/her mind in an organization where he/she knows that two things will sure happen; the expressed views will not be used and he/she would also be victimized? Only very few people; those who don’t mind taking a walk from the company the next day!

Make your appraisal system a win/win exercise and it will produce the expected result for all concerned. How can a staff you refuse to promote (unreasonably), happily promote the business?

“Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.” Richard Branson

  1. Your HR is not ‘doing’ HRM.

Human Resources Management is beyond collating attendance records, sending out mails, organizing meetings and saying yes ma/sir to the MD or whoever the top company official is.

The HR department has the responsibility to create and maintain the right environment that promotes a continuously mutually beneficial relationship between the employee, the employer and the state.

Does the HRM Know His Job?

To do this, the HR department must consist of competent hands who know their onions. It requires the HR manager to see him/herself as the person with the responsibility to ensure the marriage of the parties involved in the employment contract continue as a fulfilling and happy one. He needs to report directly to the highest authority there is with dotted line reporting (if required at all) to any other top official (to ensure his communications are not watered down before getting to the top), he understands that training and development is not a privilege to the staff but a worthy investment for the organization. He understands that without a trained and motivated workforce, the organization’s goals would not be achieved, he agrees with the fact that good people produce good products and then stakes everything to make things happen. He is not a rubber stamp for any other authority in order to keep his job. He is a certified and credible business partnership manager.

When a Mechanic Turns a Carpenter. . .!

But when your HRD neglect its primary assignment or lacks the required competence, you will have the result of a mechanic doing the job of a carpenter. He (the mechanic) sees everything as iron and the result is not what you ever desired. I have seen marketers, engineers, journalists and other people with no HR background/training handling what we say is the organization’s most prized asset (its people) and what do you have as result? Check the title of this article again!

  1. They are too busy . . . on frivolities

Have you ever sat down to analyze the relevance of what your team members do from the moment they resume at work till the minute they close for the day? I bet you several of the things; I mean more than 25% of them have no direct positive impact on your bottom line. The organization will not miss those activities if not performed, so why spend so much time on them?

Impact of Ineffective Structures & Processes

Many business owners and managers hardly sit down to analyze the cost of ineffective processes and systems in use in their organizations. Some processes in private organizations compete actively with the bureaucracy known in government offices yet they complain of productivity being poor. In some situations, the organization has an individual that can be called the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency). He is the only ‘intelligent and honest’ person while the rests are of less quality. He takes all the decisions, signs all the documents, hence, his absence puts everything on ‘pause’ thereby giving others unrequired breaks at work even though the company will pay for those misused periods. What a waste!

They Must Be Busy All the Time . . . !

In another scenario, you have bosses who think their subordinate must be busy every second at work. They believe you just must be about something all the time. They tell you that the organization cannot afford any worker taking even a two minutes mental vacation no matter the pressure. The only time they afford is when the hospital bill is added i.e. when the staff falls sick.

What Result is Being Produced?

Top notch innovations hardly come from people who are as busy as bees. Being involved in so many activities is not a guarantee for productivity.

The question is . . . what result is being produced in relevance to the overall objective? So, if you desire improved performance from your team members ensure to have the right systems, structures and processes in place because there can be activities without results!

  1. As usual, you will take the ‘Glory’.

One accomplishment energizes us for more as humans. Our emotions drive us; it determines our motivation and lack of it. The more we achieve, the more we want to achieve.

Pay is not the Best Motivation

As you may know, pay is not the number one motivation at work; positive emotion is (another day’s topic). Powerful positive emotions are created when we set out to achieve goals one of which is the assignments in the work place (this is not the only way to create positive emotions though). Our team members want to enjoy their achievements no matter how small, they want to look back and have the good feeling of accomplishment for every milestone achieved.

Positive Emotions is Key

The positive emotions created fuels the next step to be taken towards the next task. The feeling is taken a notch higher when the boss is able to tell others around about the achievement. I mean when he openly gives the credit to the staff that actually did the job. This inspires performance more than anything else. The reason is simple; everyone loves to succeed and be identified as a success!

The emotions turn negative when the boss takes pleasure in taking the credit for a job done by a subordinate. The reaction is usually ‘what’s the point when he will still take the credit and say i didn’t do anything?’ When you take all the credit, what you are telling the staff is ‘you didn’t contribute anything, I did it all by myself’. And you know that’s not true!

You Got it All Wrong!

Many managers and bosses think it’s more secure and reasonable to take the ‘glory’ (credit) for jobs they didn’t do. Some of them feel the staff/team member will become proud or make certain requests if credited for their achievements. A supervisor once told me that the staff will feel he/she is better than others when openly ‘praised’ for a job well done but explained that she doesn’t see anything wrong in openly reprimanding subordinates for their mistakes. I think that’s wicked! So, to avoid giving credits, they just cross the ‘t’ and dot the ‘I’, attach great importance to their ‘contribution’ and publicize how they ‘saved’ the day when the staff couldn’t finish up as expected. I once met a marketer who had to insist on being transferred to another department because her boss has a way of claiming her ‘one phone call’ brought the business and not her (the staff’s) several months of following through with the deal. Is the boss not supposed to provide assistance where/when required? What happened after her transfer proved who really did the work; the customer cancelled the deal since the staff was no longer handling the project being the only person he has real business relationship with. Who lost?

Do you want your staff to continually perform at their bests? Give them the ‘glory’ due to them. Selfishness profits no one.

My conclusion

Adopting the systems thinking principle that says they are no bad guys in the team is recommended. The systems thinking mindset helps create a better work environment that fosters effective communication, team work, shared values and loyalty. Every staff wants to succeed but the manager sometimes need to help discover the individual’s best route to success as it’s usually not the same for all.

The points listed above are not exhaustive; you can add yours depending on the peculiarity of your work environment and that’s why I picked ‘5’.

Kindly let’s have your view in the comments section below. Do have a top performance day!

About the author

Richard Uwamari – Richardizm is a certified management consultant and leads the team at hrm2day.com. He is also the consulting partner at Richystar Consulting limited, a management consulting firm based in Lagos Nigeria.

Having been in the HR industry for over a decade now, he’s contributed his expertise in servicing several local and international organizations. Asides his great knowledge in other areas of the management consulting field, Richard remains one of the best names to mention when it comes to employee engagement.





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