Small business owners often tell me one of the biggest challenges they face is underperformance of employees. While hiring the right employees is critical, employee performance is greatly affected by the business owner’s leadership.
Employees need to know where they stand in terms of your evaluation of their performance. Be sure to conduct a performance review with your employees at least every six months. Make the experience as positive as possible, citing achievements and offering guidance on improving performance where needed. Do not let it be a one sided conversation. Seek to understand the employee’s perception of their performance and pay close attention to their comments.
Consider whether or not your employees truly understand what is expected of them. Have you provided them with a written job description? Have you provided appropriate training? Do they have specific goals and deadlines to meet? Have you provided them with an employee handbook outlining company policies?
Sometimes employee performance suffers because the employees do not have access to what they need in order to do a good job. Have you ensured that your employees have the proper equipment, tools, software, information and other resources so they can perform at their best? As you try to answer this question, seek input from your employees about what they believe they need in order to do their jobs effectively.
Can you show your employees how their work impacts the overall mission of your business? You need to be sure your employees know and understand your company’s mission statement. Then show them how their work impacts how the company achieves this mission. Often employees become more motivated to perform well if they understand and can see the impact of their efforts.
Employees like to feel that what they think matters. Do you solicit input from your employees concerning company operations? Employees should feel encouraged to make suggestions and voice their opinions. This does not mean you have to agree with their opinions or implement everything they suggest. But listen carefully and thoughtfully to them and acknowledge their input even if you decide not to implement their suggestions.
Are you providing opportunities for your employees to grow? Do they receive ongoing training and professional development assistance? Employees that are encouraged to grow and can see that you are helping them to be better are more likely to perform well. The growth opportunities you provide should not just be about what they can achieve for your company but also about helping them improve themselves and grow as a person.
Leadership is the key to getting great results from your employees. As the leader of your company, you need to create an environment where your employees can do their best, see their impact, know they are appreciated, and truly feel good about what they and the company are able to achieve.
A great question to ask yourself is, “What would my employees say if they were asked how likely they are to recommend working for my company to someone else?”