See if this sounds at all familiar (substitute the business of your choosing)… I belong to a local gym that has a total staff of what seems to be about 20-25 people. Sometimes I get a warm and friendly greeting, and sometimes I get nothing. Sometimes I see the fitness center staff actively engaging with members, and sometimes they’re crowded around the desk laughing and chatting with each other for extended periods. Sometimes the gym floor is neat and clean, and sometimes the waste bins are overflowing.
In my mind, and if it were my business, I’d want a friendly staff that was actively engaging with or assisting members. When they’re not doing that, I’d want them busy – empty those full waste bins, wipe-down the equipment, replenish supplies – just stay busy and make it a clean, welcoming environment. There’s always something productive that can be done. That’s obvious to me, why not to them?
Performance Varies Among Employees
At first I assumed that some of the staff was simply more inclined to be service-oriented than others. That’s usually the way it turns out at almost any business you’re in – some people “get it” and others act in a way that’s closer to the middle than to their best. This ultimately results in inconsistent quality and/or customer satisfaction, and it also helps to foster resentment between those who perform at a high level and those who merely get by.
How do you address the issue of variance among employees and work ethic? Should you try to screen more effectively so that you become more adept at hiring the “high level” performers? Should you work on hiring more people who “think like you?” Wouldn’t it just be better to skip those “middle of the road” people altogether?
The Key Lies in Teaching
While it’s always a good idea to be as thorough and exhaustive as possible during the interview phase, I think that the more obvious answer lies in active, continuous coaching. Remember that a key role of managers and supervisors is to teach employees what they should do. Every situation that an employee faces is an opportunity to teach her/him something, yet that rarely occurs in the typical business. Over the past three years, I don’t ever recall seeing a manager at the gym conducting any on the floor coaching of the fitness staff.
If your plan for success involves hoping that the behaviors and actions of the high performers rubs off on the middle-of-the-road people, then you’re not aiming very high at all. To drive great results and a great experience, you need to be very specific about what it is that you want your people to do, and how you want them to do it. Once you’ve been crystal clear on that, you need to systematically teach and reinforce those behaviors continuously over time so that they become ingrained – until it simply becomes the way that everyone performs every day.
What Employees Want
My experience working with a variety of people over a 30+-year career is that the overwhelming majority of employees want to come to work and contribute in a meaningful way. The employee who doesn’t and won’t care is more of a myth than a reality. It’s important to recognize that your employees spend the majority of their waking hours with you every week, and they want that time to have meaning and purpose. If you’re not teaching them and coaching them continuously, then you’re not helping them achieve their goals or their potential.
Don’t be fooled if this sounds like a lot of work. The HPC Fundamentals System offers a proven and direct method to help you figure out what it is that you want to teach your employees, and it also provides a teaching and coaching process that will last the test of time. If you’d like to learn more about how to transform your organization by taking an intentional approach to managing your workplace culture, shoot us an email or give us a call.