If there’s one wish, one hope, one desire I hear more than any other from small medium business managers it’s this. Why can’t my staff be more committed, more dedicated, even just more interested in my business? Don’t they realize that they have a major vested interest in its success? Staff commitment isn’t as difficult as it seems. But you need the right mindset to “oil the wheels”.
1. Clarify Precise Expectations
Tell employees precisely what you expect of them, individually and collectively. Tell them the key results you want: specific, measurable results … the day to day, month to month, and annual results that mean that the business is successful. To contribute fully, your staff must know exactly what’s expected of them. Only you can tell them. You can’t gain staff commitment if staff don’t know exactly what you want.
2. Encourage Their Involvement
Involve them in working out how they can best achieve their share of business results. They do their jobs hour after hour; you don’t. They know how best they can organise their work to get the results you want. Get them to tell you. Get them to do it.
3. Provide Adequate Resources
Provide all the resources and information they genuinely need to achieve the results you want. If you want someone to turn out 10 widgets a day, you must provide a reliable machine with that capacity. I don’t mean “give them everything they ask for”. Find out what basic, essential information they need – in their terms, not yours – and provide it. But don’t dump facts and figures on them merely because you think they’re important.
4. Keep Them Well Informed
Explain how the business works; how it makes profit; what causes loss; how the different business activities relate and affect each other. These basics are most important. You might think that staff already know. You might be surprised. If you want them to own their roles, you have to provide something worth owning. That’s crucial to gaining staff commitment.
5. Create Ownership
Extend responsibility and accountability as far as you can. Encourage the development of “whole jobs”, not just bits and pieces of the process. Ensure “backroom” and “support” staff feel part of the public face of the business. Give staff short term work outside their normal jobs to broaden their perspective. Make sure they realise where their job “fits” in the overall scheme of things.
6. Share The Rewards
Reward them when they achieve the results you want. And reward both groups and individuals. Rewards don’t have to be in cash. They can range from profit share to chocolate bars. But when “they” give you what you want, be willing to “share the spoils” to help “oil the wheels”.
7. Freedom To Perform
Throw out of every piece of paper with a heading such as job description, position description, statement of job responsibility or any document with a similar title. As owner or manager you don’t confine your role to such a straitjacket. If you want employees to feel more sense of ownership and commitment, define their jobs in terms of the measurable performance you expect.
Nothing I’ve said is new … but it’s all true. To put it bluntly, there are only two reasons that your staff will ever go way beyond the “call of duty” in their jobs: to please you or to meet the standards of professionalism they’ve set for themselves. You can’t remake your employees to be another you. You can help them see themselves as absolute professionals and perform accordingly. When you create that, you’ll create real staff commitment.
What To Do Now
You probably try to do all of the 7 “wheel oilers” already. Which do you do well? Which need improvement? Do your employees agree with your assessment? Decide on the most urgent area for improvement. Involve your staff.
Please leave a comment and tell me what I could add to my “wheel oilers” list.