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

One comment on “Three Keys To Employee Success

Employees Stories

Co-Alliance employee
EmployeesNew Purdue Program To Focus On Talent Management
July 14, 2016
Purdue University’s Center for Food and Agricultural Business is starting a new professional development program to help food and agribusiness Read More
Allen Summers Asmark Institute PSM Training
EmployeesAsmark Institute Sponsors 25 ResponsibleAg Auditor Training Scholarships
June 21, 2016
The Asmark Institute has announced plans to provide 25 scholarships through their affiliated State fertilizer and agrichemical associations to help encourage Read More
EmployeesASMARK 2016 Retailers Live! Tour: 10 Things We Learned
May 10, 2016
In the Midwestern ag retail world, the last week of April and the first two weeks of May are akin Read More
Purdue Online Course Screenshot
EmployeesPurdue Center Offers Online Course For Ag Sales Professionals
March 16, 2016
A new online course from Purdue University’s Center for Food and Agricultural Business will help sales managers and advanced salespeople Read More
Trending Articles
ASMARK 2016 Retailers Live! Tour - CPS
CropLife 100CPS Acquires Texas Retail Operation
August 23, 2016
Crop Production Services (CPS) has acquired the assets of Larry’s Chemical and Spray, Inc., for an undisclosed amount in an Read More
Key Cooperative Marcus Construction Steel Building
Retail FacilitiesMarcus Construction Builds High-Speed Agronomy Center For Key Cooperative
July 7, 2016
Key Cooperative in Grinnell, IA, wanted a state-of-the-art Agronomy Center to better serve its customers. Marcus Construction delivered exactly that. Read More
Heritage Cooperative
Retail FacilitiesKahler Automation Designs State-Of-The-Art Facility For Heritage Cooperative
July 4, 2016
Heritage Cooperative in Marysville, OH, needed an efficient liquid, dry and grain facility to serve the many needs of their Read More
The Andersons Waterloo
ManagementFirst Indiana Facility Certified Under 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program
June 27, 2016
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced that The Andersons, Inc.’s Waterloo, IN, facility has been added to its Read More
Food IT
Industry NewsCalifornia Event Will Mix Ag And Tech Professionals To Explore IT Solutions
June 20, 2016
Silicon Valley is hot on agriculture, and an upcoming event in California will bring together the food and tech industries Read More
Monsanto Luling Plant
Eric SfiligojWhat’s Next For Monsanto?
May 31, 2016
For the folks at Monsanto’s headquarters in St. Louis, MO, it has been an eventful few weeks. Back on May Read More
Latest News
2016 ShowStopper | Case IH Patriot 4440 Sprayer
Equipment5 Show-stopping Products On Display At 2016 MAGIE
August 26, 2016
For 10 years now, visitors to the yearly Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) show have been tasked with voting for Read More
Crop InputsDuPont Pioneer: Corn Belt P and K Levels Lagging
August 24, 2016
A new DuPont Pioneer study conducted across 12 Corn Belt states demonstrates that growers may be leaving profit potential in Read More
Monsanto sign
Crop InputsCould a Monsanto-Bayer Union Be 2 Weeks from Fruition?
August 24, 2016
Via STLToday.com (The St. Louis Post-Dispatch): Merger talks between Monsanto Co. and Bayer AG are advancing after a series of Read More
EquipmentCase IH Debuts Nutri-Tiller 955 Strip-Till Applicator
August 24, 2016
With strip-till continuing to expand across new acres, Case IH designed the new Nutri-Tiller 955 strip-till applicator to help producers Read More
EquipmentCase Launches Aim Command FLEX, 25th Anniversary Patrio…
August 24, 2016
Case IH announces new AIM Command FLEX advanced spray technology for greater application accuracy, as well as special 25th Anniversary Read More
ASMARK 2016 Retailers Live! Tour - CPS
CropLife 100CPS Acquires Texas Retail Operation
August 23, 2016
Crop Production Services (CPS) has acquired the assets of Larry’s Chemical and Spray, Inc., for an undisclosed amount in an Read More
PrecisionAg Video Conference
Precision AgVideo: PrecisionAg Vision Conference
August 22, 2016
A Strategic Conference Focused on the Future of Farm Digitization and Precision Agriculture Visit precisionagvision.com and register today! Read More
Young Corn Plants
Industry NewsOABA Welcomes Nicole Wallace As Communication & Adm…
August 22, 2016
The Ohio AgriBusiness Association has hired Nicole Wallace as its communication and administrative coordinator. Wallace will help provide comprehensive communication Read More
Syngenta Sign
Crop InputsChemChina, Syngenta Receive Clearance From CFIUS
August 22, 2016
China National Chemical Corp. (ChemChina) and Syngenta have announced that the companies have received clearance on their proposed transaction from the Read More
ManagementAg Industry Shows and Rumors
August 18, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about the upcoming trade show schedule, crop protection merger updates, and content for Read More
MAGIE 2015
EquipmentMAGIE Takes The Pulse Of The Ag Retail Industry
August 18, 2016
Every year, one of the major highlights of my career as an ag journalist is attending the Midwest AG Industries Read More
MAGIE 2015 Overview
EquipmentPride In Professionalism On Display At MAGIE
August 18, 2016
The Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association (IFCA) is proud to partner with CropLife IRON and continue the tradition of bringing Read More
SprayersJenner Ag To Debut 25th Anniversary Edition Case IH Pat…
August 18, 2016
Visitors at the 2016 Midwest Ag Industries Exhibition (MAGIE) in Bloomington, IL, will have a unique photo opportunity, as Jenner Read More
Crop InputsEU Glyphosate Controversy Heating Up Yet Again
August 17, 2016
The battle over glyphosate rages on in Europe, creating a lot of question marks over whether the herbicide will continue Read More
Industry NewsNew Partnership Provides Improved Representation At Ohi…
August 16, 2016
The Ohio AgriBusiness Association (OABA) has retained Belinda Jones of Capitol Consulting Group, Inc. (CCG) for government relations work in Read More
Tissue testing
FertilizerMosaic: 6 Tips For Better Crop Nutrition In Corn
August 16, 2016
Late in the crop season is a good time to assess visual nutrient deficiencies and ensure early- and mid-season deficiencies Read More
WebinarsWebinar Schedule
August 14, 2016
Register for one of our upcoming Webinars or access our archive of past Webinars to view recordings of presentations that may be of interest to you. Read More
Dow DuPont
Crop InputsDowDuPont Update: EU Takes Closer Look at Merger
August 12, 2016
Dow Chemical Co. and DuPont Co. face months of haggling with European Union antitrust regulators who opened an in-depth probe Read More