Tips That Make Your Staff Successful - Are you utilizing your staff properly?
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Tonight's topic is a little change of pace. For those of you who read my blog on a regular basis, you may remember that I posted a blog in February this year titled "Keeping Your Staff Happy." I enjoy writing posts about business-related topics. That post received a large number of views. The beauty of having analytics on a website is that I can see and track what topics get the most views. This topic was one of them for 2023. Additionally, I have received many emails asking me to elaborate a bit more on that subject, focusing on helping employees succeed at their jobs.
I prefer to use the word staff or team rather than employees. The word employee tends to make people feel they are only a number, not a person. I also believe many businesses no longer treat their staff as individuals. Most feel they are just a number. When it comes to our staffing and team members, that is the farthest thing from the truth. They may be a number in a computer system for identification purposes, but they are people. People who have needs, desires, aspirations, and goals.
As a public speaker, most of my speaking events are business-related topics focusing on motivating individuals, managers, and supervisors. I speak at events for small, medium, and large companies. I am very proud to say that my first best-selling book was "Management and Employee Relations." Years later, when my book went out of print, I made it into an online course. Publishing was different years ago as compared to today. Twenty years later, the course still sells. I've been considering republishing this book it after bringing it up to date with current and proper management principles.
There is one phrase I became known for from that book and my speaking engagements. It goes like this:
"Without you, there is no us. Without us, there is no you."
What does that mean? Simply put, there is no company without staff; without staff, there is no company. Thus, a successful job market relies on both. Both need one another to work in harmony to create success. Everyone wins. One of my specialties is negotiation. Most misunderstand negotiations and make them harder than they need to be because most believe both sides are completely opposite. That is not totally true. Two facts:
A company wants more for less. This means they want their staff to work harder for the same or less money. This way, they need fewer people to achieve the same results, resulting in higher profits.
Staff members want the opposite. They want more money to do the same work, resulting in higher earnings.
On the surface, these two concepts seem totally opposite. However, they are not. They both share one common factor. They each want to make more money. Negotiations aim to find a middle ground that is fair to both sides. Keeping this in mind, let's get started.
WHAT IS A SUCCESSFUL STAFF:
Before we can answer that question, we must understand what makes up a successful team. Your staff and team members are the lifeblood of your company. EVERY company must understand the needs of those whom they employ and make a concerted effort to meet those needs. Have no fear. This is a two-way street. Let's take it one step at a time.
Answer these questions:
1. Do you enjoy going to work each day?
2. DO you feel fulfilled at your job?
3. Do you feel appreciated?
4. Do you enjoy what you do?
5.. Do you support the company you work for?
PEW RESEARCH CENTER studied in March of 2023 how Americans view their jobs. Overall, only 51% of Americans were satisfied with their jobs. The underlying categories were surprising. Promotion and pay had the lowest percentages. Take a look at the results. I think you will be surprised, or maybe not. You probably fall into the lower percentages. (NOTE: Various studies may vary.) This one fell right in the middle. Some were higher, others lower.
Believe it or not, very few working Americans are happy in most aspects of their jobs. That's quite sad since 1/3 of your day, not counting overtime, is spent at your job, and your job is your primary source of income. To some degree, this also affects your personal life. For example, things you can and cannot afford to do, coming home in a bad mood, and even waking up in a bad mood because you do not enjoy your job and have to go there. Your job has a greater effect on your personal life than you think.
However, most Americans understand that the company they work for must make a profit to survive, and most Americans support that. It is what comes with that where the problems begin. I am willing to bet that the majority of people do not answer yes to those questions. However, to be fair, many parts of the country have different business philosophies. Some areas believe in more of a work-life balance. Your life outside work is as important as your life at work. I found that to be very prevalent when I relocated to Florida. This concept will vary as the economy changes and the availability of individuals seeking employment changes. We are still living in a post-COVID world. Companies are now trying to get their staff back to the office while others find they can close offices to save money and let people work from home. Both have their pros and cons. However, I ask myself, how long are we going to use the term 'post-covid' and return to normal?
Normal is a relative term—normal changes as the times change.
Therefore, normal could be considered what is generally accepted at the time. Although, not all jobs afford people the option to work from home. Like all other things in life, what is considered normal changes. The key is to find what works and what does not. Let's not kid ourselves. There are people who take advantage of working from home.
However, "Harvard Business Review found that remote employees are more productive than their on-site workers/office workers. The reason is they are less likely to take time off and quit. A separate study highlights that employees who work remotely can save up to $4,500 annually on commuting costs." Like always, it depends on what side of the argument you're on. The issue is not all jobs can work remotely. Imagine a firefighter putting out a house fire from their house or a surgeon performing surgery from their home office. I think not. This is now raising an issue for those who must be in the workplace now wanting more compensation for travel expenses. Why not? Those working from home have not taken a cut in pay and are saving money on commuting expenses. There are always two sides to every argument.
Before I became a career firefighter and owned my own business for seventeen years, I worked for a company that sent three of us from our management team overseas to learn why a particular company was the most profitable global company and had the highest success rate of employees who wanted to work for them. I will not mention the company or country to eliminate bias from the equation. I understand that today, times are different, but at the time, I was shocked to see what this company did for their employees. The management concepts were outstanding and worked.
It was a manufacturing company. Each day a certain amount of manufacturing had to be done to meet demand and retain profits. They supplied housing for their staff in communities they built that had movie theatres, stores, food, and other amenities and requirements for which the employees only paid wholesale costs for goods and services. The company held the mortgages at a lower rate and paid their staff a fair wage. The only hitch was there was no overtime. If a production line went down, everyone had to stay until the day's production was met. That never happened in my two weeks there, although I am sure it did at one time or another.
What I found amazed me. Every, and I mean every person I spoke to, loved working there and WILLINGLY stayed whenever they needed to to make the numbers for the day. They had applications in the hundreds for people who wanted to work for this company. Basically, whatever they were doing worked. When I returned with my two other co-workers, I can tell you that this concept or any variation of it would never work in our country, and this concept does not apply to all industries. In addition, I am not suggesting it should. For what that company did, it worked for them. My point is that the company ensured the people working there were happy and content. In return, the workers make the company profitable and successful. Call it a successful marriage. To this day, they are still one of the most profitable global companies.
When I opened my own business, I used a variation of that CONCEPT to form my relationship with those who worked for me. The concept worked. For seventeen years, I was successful and had a very low turnover of staff. No company needs to mirror another because the concept works as it is modified for the particular business.
HOW TO ACHIEVE SUCCESS:
The best way to achieve success is to realize that every coin has two sides. It all ain't your way or the highway. If you want your staff and team members to be happy at their jobs and want to come to work, as an employer, you must do a few things. Your goals should be but not be limited to some of the following:
Make your staff know why something has changed. People can support new concepts if they know why they are being implemented. The "just do what you're told" mentality is ancient thinking. However, there may be times when that is necessary.
Promote advancement with achievement. Give your staff goals to work towards. Maybe an incentive program. To be true achievers, people must feel like they have skin in the game.
Ask, don't tell. Politeness goes a long way in making people feel good about what they are asked to do.
Don't just acknowledge the shortfalls; acknowledge the strong points as well.
LISTEN. This is important. No one knows better the problems of a job better than those doing the job.
Make your staff part of the solution rather than causing them to be part of the problem.
Pay them a fair wage for what they do. You cannot expect someone to do a skilled job, meaning one where you require experience and/or education, when you pay them less than what they can make flipping burgers at a local fast food chain. You get what you pay for.
Make your expectations clear.
Set your goals and share them.
Establish your organizational chart and stick to it. Your staff will do better when they understand their role and responsibilities and have structure. Especially the management structure that you have set up.
No company or manager will ever succeed long term by playing people for their needs. This undermines your management team and leads to misunderstandings and poor organization. This leads us to the next part.
UTILIZING PEOPLE PROPERLY:
Not everyone is suited for a particular job or set of responsibilities. This is a difficult part. Some people are better at things than others. Not everyone is a great salesperson. Not everyone is the best fit for your type of business. Not everyone has the best management skills. When you make poor choices in assigning people tasks or not defining their roles, you are causing more work for others because others now must pick up the slack. You are also setting up people to fail. Do you think they will be happy about that? Earlier, I stated there are two sides to the coin. So here is the flip side.
Being the decision-maker is the hardest part of the process. There are a few things you need to realize:
You won't make everyone happy. No matter what you do, there are those who will not be happy. That may be their nature. You can't fix them, so don't try. They will either go with the program or not.
Know where people are best suited based on their talents and utilize them correctly. If they do not like it, this job may not be the best choice for them. Sometimes letting someone go is necessary to get the right staff and have the correct attitudes that promote a stable and happy workforce.
Saying thank you too much is as bad as not saying it enough. You do not want it to become a phrase that eventually has no meaning.
Understand that everyone does things differently, and your way may not work best for them. The worst thing any manager can say is, "We've been doing it this way for years." Well, what has worked for years may no longer be working. Let people do things their way as long as the end result is the same and within policy guidelines. It gives them a sense of accomplishment and responsibility, for example. I had three department managers and two assistant store managers. Each had a different way of managing things when I wasn't there, which was sometimes different from how I might have done things. However, they got the job done, and everyone liked working with them.
Letting people do things their way allows them to gain a sense of satisfaction, accomplishment, and fulfillment, plus it helps them to become better managers and workers.
There is no point in putting people in positions of responsibility if you are not going to let them be responsible. Do not micro-manage. They need to learn for themselves what will work and what will not.
Realize that you will always have those that work for you that think they can do something better. They will run to you with everything, mostly complaints about others. Listen, but know what is BS and what is real. KNOW YOUR PEOPLE. These types of individuals are usually the number one cause of low morale within your workforce.
Come up with ideas that make people work as a team. Although cross-training is important, you still must be sure people are suited to what you want them to learn.
Incentive programs work. Within your company's guidelines, try to develop an incentive program that gives your staff goals. Goals that result in some form of reward. Sometimes this is difficult when you have both full and part-time staff. However, there are ways. Regardless of status, there are always things that are common to both full-time and part-time employees.
Understand, at times, you will have to be the bad guy. The one who says no, or the one who must let someone go. However, never lose sight of the fact that you have a larger picture to look at. The needs of the entire staff and the company. All of that cannot revolve around one person.
Lastly, I did not give this a number because this one should ALWAYS be an ongoing process. ANTICIPATE YOUR FUTURE NEEDS. Many companies hire part-time staff to save the benefits. That's fine. However, this is where your highest turnover of people will be. You MUST anticipate your future needs. Things such as illness, injuries, vacations, school, and others, will always be an issue. If you do not want to overwork your staff, you must accommodate for these things in advance. Waiting till the last minute doesn't cut it, especially in retail. Your customers, customer service, and their needs must come first.
Depending on the job market, many employers hold on to people because replacing them is not easy and cannot happen quickly. Although I believe that unless direct company policies were intentionally violated, terminating an employee is not the best solution until all other options have been exhausted. The key is honesty and retraining. When all else fails, you must do what is necessary to solve the problem. Many issues can be resolved through these methods providing you are not the type that just tries to appease everyone and not solve the problem. NO MANAGER CAN AFFORD TO PLAY BOTH SIDES OF THE FENCE. You will rapidly lose your credibility with others. Some people have a problem with authority and believe they can do things better when they cannot. You are not a psychologist, and fixing this personality disorder is not your job.
The best example I can give, which is one I happen to like, is this:
"When one student in the class isn't learning, it's probably the student. When the entire class isn't learning, it's probably the teacher."
When your staff always complains about one person, you must remain open-minded and find out why. Some people are troublemakers and like to stir the waters. They will talk against others to other co-workers. This is one staff member you do not need. Morale is a huge part of keeping people content in the workplace. I said you have the hardest job because you do. How you do that job could make it easier or even harder. You set the example, and you set the pace. People will follow your lead. Lastly, for this part, never ask anyone to do something they haven't seen you do yourself. They know you are the boss based on how you present yourself. They know you are a team player and care about them when they see you assist them. That is how you will gain credibility and respect. Remember. "A title doesn't make the person. The person makes the title."
I am sure you can see this topic can get quite in-depth. Far more than can be discussed in a blog post. I have tried to highlight the important points. Keeping and maintaining a happy workforce comes with a great deal of care, planning, getting the right mix in the work environment, and having the right people. It takes time and does not happen overnight.
There is a right and wrong way to approach it, and those methods may change as situations change.
These are the building blocks of your organization and its success, and having a workforce that wants to come to work not only because they have bills to pay but because they enjoy working there.
Each one of the things I have mentioned I have witnessed first-hand. There was a time when I was part of the problem, not the solution. I learned quickly that mentality doesn't work. It is anti-productive and made me not want to go to work. Unless you come into a windfall of money, you will be working for a long time. Doesn't it make sense to enjoy it rather than despise it? From a staff member's perspective, this depends on the type of company and manager you work for and their philosophy.
The best part is you can always find another form of employment with a better company, especially in today's job market. You cannot fix who you work for any more than they can fix you. This is why having the right mix is critical. Keeping all of this in mind, there are also workers who go to work and don't care about all of this. They go to work, do their job as directed, get their paycheck, and go home. They don't care if they have skin in the game. Those people are good to have as well. They will not cause you problems. Everyone's aspirations are different, and there is nothing wrong with that.
Many do not want the responsibility. They do not wish to take the problems home with them and are willing to take less money to avoid that aggregation. Sometimes, these are your best staff members. They never cause you a problem. You can count on them each day. Therefore, knowing your people is critical. Knowing their goals is critical. Knowing what makes them happy is critical. To all staff members reading this. If you think for one minute being a manager is a picnic, you are sadly mistaken. If it's that hard, why do people do it? It is an issue of personality. Some people like to be in a leadership role, and others do not. Some are good at it, and others are not. Everyone has someone they have to answer to. That is the first step to understanding if everyone keeps that in mind. Thank you.
Please feel free to leave comments, or if you have a topic you would like me to discuss or have a question, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.
Be safe, stay well, and focus on being happy. And remember to always:
Live with an open mind,
Live with an open heart,
Live your best life.
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