Do you sometimes feel that you are doing the work of other people? Or that you have to yell or threaten them so they will do their job? You’re pulling overtime and overwhelmed with deadlines and they’re just going through the motions—coming in late, dragging their feet, submitting mediocre work—just to get a paycheck.
You can’t do their job, but how can you make them more productive and more motivated? Here are some tried and tested tips from managers and work experts
Offer incentives for success
Consider this: the cost of keeping an employee happy is far less than the cost of losing a customer. Happy workers help produce happy customers.
If possible, give cash incentives or rewards for meeting quotes or deadlines, or bonuses for stellar performers for every year. But it also goes beyond money. People need to feel that they are an important part of the company, and that their job—no matter how low the official rank—contributes to everyone’s success. Consult them at meetings, ask for their feedback on how to improve systems and brainstorm on what everyone can do to meet objectives. Make them feel that you value their work and their ideas. People respond more to praise and confidence rather than criticism and repeated reminders of their failure.
Take a problem-solving approach
Instead of saying, ‘I can’t believe you missed a deadline!’ sit down with the coworker and talk about what happened. Tell them about the impact of the deadline on the business and everyday operations, analyze what went wrong, ask for ideas on how to do it better next time, and create an action plan. This is more proactive, and also keeps the discussion on a professional and unemotional level. You can give a warning, but phrase it in business terms: ‘This client is very important and the business can’t afford to lose him. He will demand exceptional service, and the company will make sure that he gets it—by giving him the best people on the team.’
Create performance systems
Your whole organization must be positioned towards performance improvement and delivery. This starts with creating a clear job description and work flow that specifies the staff’s responsibilities and accountabilities. Regular meetings help update everyone on what’s going on and can prevent problems from escalating. You can immediately spot issues and solve them, or remind someone to step up the game. The clear job description also makes it easier to pinpoint who is slacking off—and, if you’re doing someone else’s work, it allows you to take extra credit for tasks that aren’t in your job description.
Clear roles also help avoid office politics since performance is based on objective criteria rather than favoritism or personalities.
Create a culture of creativity
Allow employees find ways to do the work better. They can suggest new ways of doing things or trying things their way; just make sure they can defend their process and be accountable for results.
Respect work life balance
Think not only of the employees, but also of their families. People who are allowed to take time out to be with their families often become loyal and productive because they are proud and grateful to be part of an organization that is committed to their work life balance. Sometimes what managers perceive as laziness is actually burnout
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