Staff Performance: Little Things Business Schools Don’t Mention


Outstanding staff performance is most desirable. To obtain it, you need to do lots of little things well each day. But you won’t learn about those little things in business schools. Here’s a list of nine to help you.

1.  Employees And Managers Perceive Things Differently

As the old song says, “Little Things Mean A Lot”. Never forget this. A minor change to some routine or schedule will be seen as a huge disruption. Act on it. Sit down with the aggrieved employee and sort it out.

2.  Go With Harold Arlen And Johnny Mercer

In 1944 Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer had a huge hit with  “Accentuate The Positive”. Learn from them. Refer constantly to what employees do well. Always let them know when you value and appreciate their work. Whenever you must point out an error point out something that’s done well too. If you concentrate on mistakes, you’ll get more mistakes.

3.  Stress What You Want, Not What You Don’t

I recently heard a “cry for help” from a manager who had an “absence problem”. She was constantly frustrated by employees taking unauthorized absences. Her solution was to establish an “absence policy”: a policy to cover something she didn’t want to happen. Surely her efforts should have been directed at creating enthusiastic and committed employees. Wouldn’t it be preferable to “put systems in place that make it impossible for employees to fail?”

4.  Make Employees Responsible For On Job Performance

Do not have staff who specialize in “checking up”. Matters such as customer service, quality and expense control are the responsibility of every employee. If you use specialists to “check up” on those things, you’re telling your employees that they shouldn’t bother as the specialists will find errors.

5.  It’s What You Do, Not Say

“I’ve told ‘em a million times” is a common complaint of managers. May I remind you that employees take far more notice of what you do than what you say. That’s the reality. If your desk is a mess, don’t expect your employees’ desks to be any different. If you make a habit of “long lunches”, don’t expect employees not to. They’ll do what you do, not what you say. Your job is to make it relatively simple for employees to give you what you say you want.

7.  Emphasize Performance Not Behaviour

To quote performance guru, Tom Gilbert, “Performance is what you leave behind. Behaviour is what you take with you”. We know that Michael Jordan was a great basketballer – and a just above average baseballer – because of his performance in those sports. Don’t let employees’ behaviour ruin your judgement of employee performance. This is a common management error.

8.  Keep Interference To A Minimum

Employees want clear direction. They want to know exactly what performance you expect and how it’ll be measured. Set the standards, establish the systems, provide the resources and set the deadlines. Then get out of the way and let them “get on with it”. Be available to help if asked. Constant interference tells your employees that you really don’t expect them to do well.

9.  Encourage Effective Teamwork

Recognize that while we employ individuals, they’ll only be fully effective as team members. Look for ways to help employees co-operate effectively with each other. You will not achieve this by helping them to “get on well” together. “Getting on well” is an outcome of effective team performance not a prerequisite for it. You’ll create great teamwork by clarifying roles and goals of teams and individuals.

Not Only 9

Clearly there are more than 9 “little things” that you need to pay attention to. These nine are a good start. And doing what’s recommended will certainly improve staff performance.


Your business needs sound marketing and good systems to support employee performance. But don’t forget that “little things mean a lot” too.

What To Do Now

Which of the 9 Little Things could you implement immediately? Which would you need help with. Send an email with your queries. And leave a comment below.

Please remember to click on the “Resources” tab in the navigation bar to find other resources to help you improve on job staff performance.

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