Three Keys To Employee Success

Managers want their employees to be successful. It’s easy to recognize that if your employees are performing at a high level, your own results should be improving as well. Maximizing employee performance can be a complicated process that involves many steps. However, if you start with three simple things, increasing performance becomes much easier.

Define Your Expectations

At some point in our careers, we learned the importance of setting expectations or having them set for us. When you understand what you want to achieve, you will be able to recognize when you are making progress towards it.

In sports, the expectation is clear: WIN! The scoreboard tells us at a glance whether we are winning or losing, so we always know where we stand. In business, winning can be defined as increased sales, increased margin, reducing employee turnover and improving customer satisfaction. These goals are scored and can be easily recognized and communicated. But, what about expectations like maintain a clean and professional work environment, communicate effectively with coworkers and work safely on a daily basis? While each one of these items conveys an expectation, many employees don’t have a good understanding of what they need to do to meet those expectations. How clean is “clean and professional?” What defines “effective communication?” With this in mind, you can see why it is critical that you define exactly what you want your employees to achieve, why it is important and what they need to do to achieve it.

Parents may quickly recognize the similarities in how the definition of a “clean room” can be as complicated as expecting a “clean workplace.” The expectation of clean to a parent is often far different than the definition of clean to a teenager. It’s not uncommon for a teenager to clean their room, only for the parent to walk in and get upset at the results.

Why do parents have that conflict? Because most parents assume kids have the same definition of clean, and they never take the time to explain what a clean room should look like. Perhaps you have had similar experiences with employees? As a supervisor, it’s easy to point out the defects and what is wrong — but have you taken the time to explain what your expectations really are? What does a clean workspace look like? What defines good communication? Regardless of the method, you need to explain in great detail what you expect them to achieve. Additionally, you can take that conversation one step further by talking with the employee about why a clean workspace is important (customer impressions, safety, etc.) and why it might be important to them (efficiency, less time to maintain, etc.).

The key here is to be explicit about what you expect your people to achieve, why it is important, and specifically what they can do to meet your expectations. Without it, you are making a dangerous assumption that your definition of success is the same, when it’s likely different.

Show Them The Boundaries

Good managers understand they are responsible for their results. A good manager won’t let an employee’s performance ruin his or her results. They will either be down in the details making sure employees are performing, doing it themselves or disciplining and holding poor performers accountable for poor performance.

If you surveyed your employees about what they seek in a manager, odds are they will all say they want a manager that lets them get their stuff done without looking over their shoulder. What they don’t want, is a supervisor that they would refer to as a “micro-manager.” They want FREEDOM! Popular management gurus refer to this freedom as autonomy.

Autonomy is the freedom to have a say over what tasks I perform, what team I perform them on and how I spend my time completing the tasks. Regardless of what you may think, this is what most engaged employees want. Autonomy, however, is not something that should be given freely. That is called apathy. Saying something like: “I don’t care what you do, just get the job done!” is rarely a true statement. Of course we care what they do! We care that things are done in a certain way because they are time-tested. We care that they do things in such a way so as to avoid breaking a law or regulation. We care about how they treat other people. We do care!

The key to enabling the freedom they seek, while still maintaining oversight, is setting boundaries. Let them have freedom within a framework. Discuss things they can do and those things that they should not do — realizing that anything not on the list is fair game.

The key is to keep the boundaries a fluid process. Remember to revise the list when you see them doing something you don’t like; and encourage them when they are doing something well. Be careful that you are not establishing norms for the sake of having norms. Test every boundary by asking yourself these questions: If they do something I’ve asked them not to do, will it have a negative impact? Similarly, if they don’t do something on the list, will it have a negative impact? If there is no negative impact, it should be removed as a boundary.

Demand Communication

Communication. Every manager demands it, but many of us don’t do it very well. The challenge is that managers typically don’t expect, require, hope for, nor improve, communication. They DEMAND communication. In order to demand something, you must know exactly what you want and you must make it a top priority to get those results. In order to get that accomplished, you need to have a mechanism set in place to demand communication.

Managers don’t like surprises when it comes to business. You want to know the bad news before it becomes bad and you want to know that good news is just around the corner. We take the “no news is good news” approach off the table and talk explicitly about what is going on in the business with great frequency. There is no doubt that most managers do this all ready. You probably talk to people throughout the day and ask them how things are going. Unfortunately, 90% of the time they respond to you with the F-word: Fine. Fine is a great word that conveys absolutely nothing, yet most of us are satisfied with the response.

There are 1,327 follow-up questions to “how’s it going?” that will yield a real answer. How is Jim getting along today after coming back from surgery? How did the inspection go yesterday? Any repairs need to be made? Hopefully you get the picture.

When you think about the demand of communication, think of it as developing a stronger relationship. It will take time to demand communication, but the payback will be tremendous. Instead of solving problems, you’ll be preventing them. Instead of responding to crises, you’ll be avoiding them.

Many of us don’t like formality, but with no routine, no discipline, no habit or no ritual, we run the risk of the day-to-day nonsense preventing us from getting important things done. Meaningful communication is important to your employees and it’s important to you. It’s okay to demand communication provided that you set a formal habit around when and how it happens. I promise there will always be something for you to talk about.

These three things will have an enormously positive impact on your employees’ success and ultimately your business. Just remember to establish the expectations and boundaries as early as you can, and lead by example when you demand communication.

Leave a Reply

Employees Stories

EmployeesSyngenta: ‘Take Charge’ Of Farm Safety
June 4, 2014
Syngenta and health officials warn of four health-related challenges in agriculture and how they can be managed. Read More
EmployeesHead Start Program Prepares The Next Generation Of Ag Retailers
April 7, 2014
Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association, in partnership with the Asmark Institute, are offering the Head Start Program to prepare students for work at ag retail facilities. Read More
EmployeesThree Keys To Employee Success
March 3, 2014
Increasing employee performance becomes much easier when managers follow these three simple things. Read More
CHS Safety Training
EmployeesAg Retailers: Hit The Mark On Safety
March 3, 2014
Here are some simple ways to effectively introduce or improve safety at your facility. Read More

Trending Articles

Green Valley Ag facility
Retail FacilitiesGreen Valley Ag Adopts A.J. Sackett’s Precision Fertilizer Blending® Technology At New Facility
July 8, 2014
Sackett's Precision Fertilizer Blending® Technology is making huge strides around the world. Green Valley Ag adopts the technology at its new facility to support its advancing agronomic needs. Read More
Retail FacilitiesWaconia Manufacturing Builds Facility Designed For Speed, Efficiency
July 7, 2014
To make its new hub facility more efficient, Cooperative Elevator enlisted the aid of Waconia Manufacturing. Read More
EquipmentSummer Show Preview 2014: Superior Sprayers Take The Field
July 3, 2014
In this final installment of our coverage of the major categories of Big IRON that retailers can expect to test-drive at this summer’s events, here is a look at 19 sprayers. Read More
Scouting a soybean patch at Green Valley Ag.
EmployeesCropLife Compensation Survey: Battling Talent Drain
July 2, 2014
Retailers too often lose employees to companies outside of agriculture, while recruiting efforts are most often limited to competitors and other ag-focused organizations. Read More
HerbicidesDow AgroSciences Introduces SureStart II Herbicide
June 16, 2014
The enhanced formulation has improved viscosity and increased stability under heat and controls more than 60 high-anxiety grasses and broadleaf weeds found in corn fields. Read More
HerbicidesBASF Investing $270 Million To Expand U.S. Herbicide Production
June 11, 2014
BASF has invested more than $270 million to expand herbicide production capacities in the U.S., including more than 20 new products to be launched over next two years. Read More

Latest News

LegislationUSDA Implements Key Farm Bill Crop Insurance Provision
July 30, 2014
The new Supplemental Coverage Option, available through the federal crop insurance program and set to begin with the 2015 crop year, is designed to help protect producers from yield and market volatility. Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Forms New Organizational Structure For Its…
July 30, 2014
The new structure will provide more responsive internal support and will allow regional vice presidents and area managers to spend more time with customers, on talent development and on operational excellence across branches. Read More
Palmer pigweed in cotton
HerbicidesNew Training Modules On Herbicide Resistance Now Availa…
July 30, 2014
The Weed Science Society of America has announced the availability of three new education modules on herbicide resistance in weeds. Read More
HerbicidesWillowood To Market Glufosinate
July 28, 2014
Willowood USA recently announced that Federal EPA has approved its technical registration for glufosinate. Read More
InsecticidesHow To Scout For Corn Earworms In Corn
July 28, 2014
In her weekly report, University of Missouri Agronomy Specialist Jill Scheidt discusses what to look for when scouting for corn earworm. Read More
Crop InputsDuPont Pioneer, Weyerhaeuser Enter Technology License A…
July 28, 2014
The agreement brings together agricultural and forestry know-how to sustainably improve crop productivity for corn growers around the world. Read More
EquipmentAGCO Launches Global iPad App
July 28, 2014
The free AGCO Global iPad App can be downloaded from the Apple iTunes Store and features the full family of RoGator self-propelled sprayers and TerraGator high-floatation spreaders. Read More
Eric SfiligojYuma Centennial Ag Supply Earns 2014 National Environme…
July 28, 2014
Colorado-based ag retailer receives top trophy in 24th annual DuPont Crop Protection/CropLife ceremony. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Forms Alliance With Wildlife Managment, Seed O…
July 25, 2014
The strategic alliance will provide Tecomate with key wildlife products, processing facilities, distribution centers and sales through Pinnacle’s ever-growing retail network. Read More
ManagementFranken Presses White House On RFS Support
July 25, 2014
Al Franken and a group of Senate democrats recently met with senior White House official John Podesta to urge the administration to change its position on an EPA proposal. Read More
ManagementASA, FarmLink To Launch ‘Operation Benchmark̵…
July 25, 2014
The American Soybean Association (ASA) and FarmLink are teaming up to help farmers close the $11 billion gap between what they harvested in 2013 and what they could harvest annually. Read More
StewardshipNorthey: Farmers Commit $1.4 Million to Try New Water Q…
July 25, 2014
The practices that are eligible for funding include cover crops, no-till or strip till and using a nitrification inhibitor when applying fall fertilizer. Read More
Precision AgFarmers Learn How Changing World Will Impact Iowa
July 24, 2014
Technology and understanding global consumer demand for Iowa farm products brought hundreds of farmers and agribusiness leaders to Ames recently for the annual Iowa Farm Bureau Federation Economic Summit. Read More
HerbicidesPurdue: Late Season Weeds May Require Manual Removal
July 24, 2014
Hand-rouging and pulling late season weeds by hand may be the best way to remove them, more so than using a herbicide, a Purdue Extension weed scientist says. Read More
Soybean Field
InsecticidesTransform WG, Closer SC Insecticides Receive R&D 10…
July 23, 2014
Dow AgroSciences has received the award from R&D Magazine for Transform WG insecticide and Closer SC insecticide with Isoclast active. Read More
EquipmentKinze, Raven Team Up On 4900 Planter Monitor
July 23, 2014
Kinze Manufacturing announces a partnership with Raven Industries to develop a standalone monitor solution for the Kinze 4900 series planter. With this new Read More
LegislationNew Farm Bill Continues To Confuse As Growers Await USD…
July 23, 2014
The new five-year Farm Bill eliminates many of the direct payments previously payed to growers and could benefit from USDA clarification, reports a Toledo Blade columnist. Read More
EquipmentPrecisionAg.com Relaunches With Responsive Design For M…
July 22, 2014
PrecisionAg, the worldwide leader in precision agriculture information and analysis, announces the launch of its completely redesigned website, PrecisionAg.com. Read More