Getting your employees from poor to good, average to superior

Little has changed since my last newsletter. We still have a jittery market, talk of economic downturns and possible recession continue.

The question for those of us in business is this: How can we create greater security while we’re in this unsettled economic environment?

The answer lies in our organizations' workforces and employee performance in particular.

For most companies, payroll is the largest expense, and the people who work for you are your greatest asset —or should be. Employee performance can create huge gains or losses depending upon whether it is good or bad.

Monetary difference between poor and outstanding employees: double their salary
Last month I showed you that you can quantify employee performance.

To refresh your memory—and in short—the monetary difference in performance can range from half their gross salary when comparing an average employee with a good employee to twice their annual salary when comparing an extremely poor to an outstanding employee. Even at low organizational levels where you might employ large numbers, performance differences can cost—or save—you significant dollars.

It’s extremely important to stay constantly aware of what your employees are worth in actual dollars. And just as important to know their unique values based on their abilities and experience in relationship to your company.

Even average employees can waste your money
What I hope you understand is that while a high-performing team can give your product, service and company a competitive edge, and define and advance your excellent reputation, a low performing team can undermine your best efforts to reach even your basic objectives.

And most important, I hope you know that even average employees can waste your money (not your worst performers, you already know they are a problem). They focus on expending as little effort as they can to get by each day and though adequate, their uninspired performance can drag a company from flourishing to merely surviving or even failing.

So, if this is the case, your challenge is getting your employees from poor to good, average to superior.

How do you do this? Here’s what to consider and five basic steps to take:

1. Know where you are now.
A personnel audit will help you determine which of your employees perform poorly, which are mediocre performers, which are good and which are outstanding. Begin with your managers’ judgments; they know workplace performance.

After that consult other records and documents at your disposal such as performance reviews, incident reports, memos and customer letters. Before you can work on performance improvements or initiate any personnel changes, you must determine current level of performance so you can measure future performance against it.

2. Set and communicate performance standards.
With an eye toward individual jobs, ask: What is the goal for each position? Do you expect an employee to produce a certain number of items; bring in a certain amount of business? What level of service do you expect your employee to provide to the company?

3. Communicate your expectations.
Let your employees know your expectations for future performance and point out where their performance regularly falls short. Include absenteeism, tardiness, missed productivity levels and timeline delays in your expectations list. Carefully and clearly state that you will track their performance and evaluate frequently. Make the consequences of failing to meet these set standards enforceable; communicate these consequences.

4. Track, evaluate and give feedback.
Keep records, evaluate frequently and give clear, timely and precise feedback. Further, keep records over time. That way rather than telling an employee, “You didn’t produce enough last month,” you can say, “Your production has decreased each month for the past six months. Is something going on?”

5. Document.
Record your entire process, from problem identification through consequences. Documenting will help you see what steps you need to take. As difficult as it is, you may need to terminate an employee and documentation can clarify this decision for you.

Average employees likely generate missed-opportunity costs by diverting management’s time and effort, creating customer dissatisfaction, weakening a company's competitive edge or undermining its image.

With this in mind, imagine how your organization will benefit if you replace just one mediocre performer by a top performer. And just think what replacing two, five—even ten—will do.

In our present economy, can you afford not to give attention to making sure your employees are engaged, productive, high performers who give their best for your company?

Tips: Eight key questions to ask when devising a plan to engage employees

Are you tolerating average performances from mediocre employees in your company?

Would you like to lift them from just "punching the clock” to "going the extra mile?"

Here are eight universal key drivers that engage employees to get their highest levels of commitment, passion and performance. I've formulated them as questions, which I hope you'll find useful if you wish to develop a plan to engage your employees.

Your Solution Toolbox: Profile XT™, the tool that helps you place your employees in the jobs where they belong

Engagement begins with a good job fit and you can ensure that an employee works where he or she belongs in your organization with Profile International’s assessment tools – particularly the ProfileXT™.

The ProfileXT™ assesses an employee’s behavioral traits, interests and thinking style.

When I tell people about it, I generally ask them to think of an analogy of a square peg in a round hole.

To make a square shape fit in a round slot, you must shave the corners. If the peg is more curved then square, you will need to shave off less to make it fit. And, if the peg is already round, it fits perfectly in the hole with no shaving or honing needed.

When hiring, or advancing or changing an employee's responsibilities, the ProfileXT™ helps ensure this kind of fit.

It’s common sense that employees who fit well into their jobs exhibit a higher level of job satisfaction. They come to work more often, change jobs less frequently and perform superbly overall. They achieve success with what comes naturally to them.

Managers using assessment tools correctly already know the shape of the holes they need to fill. They only need a peg to fit it well. ProfileXT@ helps them find the right peg.

How can we help meet your needs... Send me an e-mail or give me a call if you have questions about this new tool…or if you want to build a satisfied and productive workforce. I will help you put people in jobs where demand matches their natural abilities, stimulation matches their interest and they have the greatest opportunity to succeed.

You have a significant investment in your people through salary, benefits, recruitment and training. This investment can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, per person. Make sure you do the best you can with it. Call me today.

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