A recent conversation with a client was focused on his frustration with several problem employees. The client spent several minutes sharing great details about how these employees were belligerent, unmotivated and becoming a liability to the organization that was built around their expertise. I asked if their skills were still critical to the organization and he said “yes, that is what makes this issue so difficult.”
I shared with him the 7 ways to engage his workforce found in the book “Creating a Collaborative Enterprise” within the chapter titled “Retool the Organization’s Culture”.
- Hiring the right personnel to fit the culture. Far too many organizations spend insufficient time investigating, qualifying and matching a candidate’s personality, skills and work ethic to that of the organizations culture. Don’t trust the resume and referrals completely, make sure the candidate demonstrates their skills, interviews with prospective peers and even possible subordinates. A good candidate will ask as many questions as they answer. Think of the hiring process as if you are asking someone to go steady (remember when?). The situation has to be good for both the candidate and the organization, and the relationship should be intended to last a long time.
- Training the workforce continually. A second mistake many organizations make is that once they hire someone, the new hire is thrown into their situation with a sink-or-swim mentality. Training is usually the last expense item added to organizational operating budgets and the first line item removed when money is tight. If you view your workforce as an asset, then you should be training them to make them more proficient, flexible and productive. If you don’t see your workforce as an asset, then you probably have more than the normal number of problem employees and/or a less than amenable relationship with your unions.
- Mentoring is the most effective way to train and motivate. Mentoring has become a lost art in organizations today. That’s a shame because I believe it is the most effective way to introduce an employee into a new work situation, new skills or skill transference, work habits, performance processes, and an organization’s culture.
- Training and more training. Organizations that have a continual effective training program are found to be more productive and have less employee dissatisfaction issues. Employees want to know how to do their jobs to a high level of proficiency and want the opportunity to learn new skills that can propel them to career advancement opportunities. It’s good for the employee and good for the organization, and it does not have to be expensive. Use your existing highly skilled employees to teach, train and mentor your other employees. It is rewarding for both.
- Evaluating results of the workforce provides feedback on performance. Fair, objective and timely evaluations of employee performance provides the opportunity to support, counsel, reward and direct employees. Feedback, negative or positive, is important to employees. If done in a constructive way, it can be a larger motivator than dollars. One or two formal reviews a year won’t work as the only feedback the employee receives. Continual feedback, formal or informal, is important to keep the employee motivated and working in the direction the organization needs to be successful.
- Utilizing self-directed teams. Organizing into teams and allowing the team to set priorities and work processes within the overall direction of the organization significantly improves communication, leadership stratification and loyalty.
- Leading by examples is advice for the leadership. Nothing generates workforce loyalty more than having leaders that lead by example. They walk the talk and are out in front when it counts. They roll up their sleeves and pitch in when needed while giving full credit for organizational successes to the workforce.
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