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

EmployeesSyngenta Sees Diversity In Ag Increasing
September 22, 2015
As the 2015 growing season winds down, many companies and groups in agriculture are upping their efforts to embrace a Read More
Employee Training Employees at Silverado Ranch Supply receive monthly training that focuses on how to read labels, handle hazardous materials, document use of hazardous and other materials, and actions to take in an emergency situation. Source: Lindsay Dixon, consultant, Silverado Ranch Supply, Yerington, NV
EmployeesTop 10 Employee Retention Mistakes
March 9, 2015
Ag retailers are constantly looking to please their best employees, but many err in how they attempt to retain them. Read More
Prairieland FS employees
EmployeesThe Three Keys To Employee Success
February 12, 2015
Everyone hiring in the agricultural markets has three major concerns to address. Read More
EmployeesOhio AgriBusiness Association Awards $25,000 In Scholarships
November 19, 2014
Each year, the Ohio AgriBusiness Association Educational Trust scholarship program awards scholarship dollars to students enrolled in an agriculture-related field attending several state colleges. Read More
Top 100 Articles
Southern States Co-op Storefront
CropLife 100Southern States: Always Ag Authentic
October 1, 2015
If people were to judge a book by its cover when visiting Southern States Cooperative’s (SSC) Richmond, VA, corporate headquarters, Read More
Crop InputsLand ‘O Lakes, United Suppliers Finalize Merger
August 24, 2015
According to a press release on August 24, owners of United Suppliers, Inc. and members of Land O’Lakes, Inc. “have Read More
West Central Cooperative, Jefferson, IA
CropLife 100Iowa Cooperatives To Explore Unification
August 19, 2015
The boards of directors at two of Iowa’s leading farmer-owned cooperatives yesterday signed a letter of intent to study the Read More
CropLife 100Southern States Coop Hosting Drone Flight This Friday
August 3, 2015
Southern States Cooperative — No. 9 on the CropLife 100 — is hosting an FAA-approved drone demonstration at Grandview Farms Read More
CropLife 100Aligned Ag Distributors Adds Four New Owners
July 30, 2015
Aligned Ag Distributors LLC has announced the addition of four new customer/owners to Franklin Holding Co. LLC. They are: The Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Purchases California-Based Specialty Crops Retailer
July 20, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings has successfully acquired California-based NH3 Service Co.  Operating as part of Pinnacle’s Performance Agriculture brand, the new locations Read More
Latest News
EquipmentPrecision Tank & Equipment: 50 Years Of Growing
October 4, 2015
Looking out onto the production floor of the fiberglass/stainless steel tank manufacturing facility in Ligonier, IN, David Hemming, president/CEO for Read More
Syngenta Sign
Crop InputsScience & Strategy Spur Syngenta’s Crop Protection …
October 3, 2015
Developing a crop protection portfolio is a lot of science and a little serendipity. “There are a number of things Read More
Dan Schaefer and Jason Solberg IFCA
StewardshipIllinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association: Tacklin…
October 2, 2015
You’ve got to be doing something right if lots of people keep coming to you for advice. That’s what’s happening Read More
LegislationFall Fertilizer Transportation Could Be At Risk With Po…
October 1, 2015
Failure by Congress to extend the deadline for the implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC) on the railroads could gridlock Read More
Weed ResistancePPO Resistant Pigweed Hits The Mid-South
October 1, 2015
If you’re a soybean grower already entangled in troublesome weed resistance in the state of Arkansas, Mississippi or Tennessee, you Read More
Weed ResistanceManagement Strategies That Worked In 2015
October 1, 2015
For better or worse, throughout many regions of the country 2015 provided the optimal growing season conditions for both crops, Read More
ManagementAn Update On CropLife America’s Meeting & The Outlo…
October 1, 2015
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj review last week’s CropLife America Annual Meeting and how crop protection companies believe next Read More
Patriot 4440 Sprayer close up
Weed ResistanceManaging Herbicide-Resistant Weeds: The Importance Of ‘…
October 1, 2015
As the problem of herbicide-resistant weeds has spread, crop protection product suppliers have charged their top researchers with coming up Read More
Adjuvants loading
Weed ResistanceAdjuvants Trending Up For Fighting Weed Resistance
October 1, 2015
Gone with the wind are the days when adding an adjuvant to the spray tank was looked at with major Read More
Case sprayer nozzle closeup
Weed Resistance8 Best Management Practices For Spray Drift Control
October 1, 2015
Dr. Robert Wolf, Wolf Consulting & Research, LLC, Mahomet, IL, is one of the leading experts in drift management strategies. Read More
EquipmentUSC Releases New U-BATCH Treater
October 1, 2015
U-BATCH is one of the most versatile batch treaters on the market today, according to USC. Capable of treating most Read More
Southern States Co-op Storefront
CropLife 100Southern States: Always Ag Authentic
October 1, 2015
If people were to judge a book by its cover when visiting Southern States Cooperative’s (SSC) Richmond, VA, corporate headquarters, Read More
Industry NewsVerdesian Life Sciences Names New Vice Presidents For P…
September 30, 2015
As farmers seek advanced, innovative ways to keep their operations profitable and efficient, companies must rise to the challenge to Read More
Tim Glenn, Dupont Crop Protection
Crop InputsDuPont Crop Protection Appoints New President
September 30, 2015
DuPont has named Timothy P. Glenn as president of its Crop Protection business effective October 1, succeeding Rik Miller who Read More
Industry NewsYargus Expands Sales Force With Two Hires
September 30, 2015
Renee Sauvageau and Mike Etter have joined the Yargus Manufacturing, Inc. Sales Team, as Territory Sales Managers. Renee joined Yargus Read More
BlendersYargus Introduces New Layco Rotary Drum Blenders
September 28, 2015
Yargus has introduced the new 13- and 16-ton capacity Rotary Drum Blenders that have one of the highest capacities in Read More
Eric SfiligojMACA Young Leaders Speak
September 28, 2015
For the past several years, one of the highlights of the annual Mid America CropLife Association (MACA) meeting is hearing Read More
Screen capture of this week's Retail Week video featuring CropLife Editor Eric Sfiligoj and Executive Editor Paul Schrimpf as they examine the Ohio Farm Science Review and the CropLife 100.
ManagementOhio FSR Report And The Allure Of The iPad
September 24, 2015
Ohio Farm Science Review learnings and a CropLife 100 challenge from Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj in this edition Read More