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
EmployeesAsmark Institute Dedicates New Training Center To Ford West
August 6, 2014
The Asmark Institute plans to recognize the retired industry leader's years of service to the fertilizer industry at the new state-of-the-art facility in Owensboro, KY. Read More
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
Top 100 Articles
CropLife 100Pinnacle Agriculture Acquires Minnesota Retailer
April 14, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, LLC, ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100,  has successfully acquired Liebl Ag, LLC in Ada, MN.  Read More
CropLife 100CHS, Aurora Cooperative Complete Fertilizer Storage, Grain Shuttle Loading Facility
April 13, 2015
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading cooperative and ranked No. 5 on the CropLife 100, and Aurora Cooperative (ranked No. 21) Read More
CropLife 100GROWMARK Acquires Missouri Refined Fuels Terminal
April 2, 2015
Bloomington, IL-based GROWMARK and Magellan Pipeline Co. have entered into an agreement in which GROWMARK will acquire the refined fuels Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Acquires South Dakota Retailer
April 2, 2015
Wilbur-Ellis Co.’s Agribusiness Division, a recognized leader in precision agriculture technology and the distribution and marketing of plant protection, seed Read More
CropLife 100The McGregor Co. Closes Smith-Kem Acquisition
April 2, 2015
The McGregor Co. — ranked No. 16 on the CropLife 100 list of largest U.S. ag retailers — has completed Read More
CropLife 100BRANDT Commemorates National Ag Day
March 20, 2015
The Illinois agriculture community gathered at BRANDT global headquarters on March 18 to celebrate National Ag Day behind this year's theme Sustaining Future Generations. Read More
Latest News
StewardshipTFI Announces Renewed Financial Commitment To Fertilize…
April 24, 2015
Today, The Fertilizer Institute’s (TFI) President Chris Jahn announced that TFI and over 100 partners will more than double existing Read More
Industry NewsMACA Names New Ambassador Coordinator
April 23, 2015
The Mid America CropLife Association (MACA) has named Michelle Kilper as its new Ambassador Coordinator. Michelle is a graduate of Read More
ManagementAg Retailer’s Role In Local Policy Making; Raising The …
April 23, 2015
CropLife’s Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj review their recent travels, precision ag efforts in Washington, DC, and the role of Read More
TMX-2050 In-Cab Display Launch Run Screen
Precision AgIn-Cab Computing 2015: Connectivity, Compatibility Take…
April 23, 2015
In terms of in-cab computing solutions for the agriculture market, companies like Case IH, Topcon, Trimble, John Deere and Raven Read More
USDA
StewardshipUSDA Outlines Building Blocks For Climate Smart Agricul…
April 23, 2015
Today, the USDA has announced a comprehensive and detailed approach to support farmers, ranchers, and forest land owners in their Read More
Industry NewsArysta LifeScience Welcomes New Territory Sales Manager
April 23, 2015
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced the addition of Kaitlyn Acaster to the Canadian sales team. Acaster will fill the Read More
Crop InputsMarrone Bio Innovations Opens New Research Greenhouse
April 23, 2015
Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. (MBI), a leading provider of bio-based pest management and plant health products for the agriculture, turf Read More
Crop InputsDuPont Acquires Taxon Biosciences
April 23, 2015
DuPont has agreed to acquire Taxon Biosciences, Inc., a leading microbiome discovery company. This acquisition will build on DuPont’s in-house capabilities Read More
Farmer on tablet
ManagementStudy: Consumers Don’t Care If U.S. Farmers Feed …
April 23, 2015
“We’re feeding the world” is a mantra often used by those involved in farming and food to build support for Read More
Industry NewsCorporate Responsibility Magazine Names Monsanto One Of…
April 22, 2015
Corporate Responsibility Magazine (CR Magazine) named Monsanto Co. to its 100 Best Corporate Citizens List for 2015. This is the Read More
FertilizerSpring Nitrogen Management: Form And Timing
April 22, 2015
Most corn producers have planned their spring nitrogen program for 2015, and many have already started to implement their program. Read More
FMC 3Rive 3D
Industry NewsFMC Corp. Completes Acquisition Of Cheminova
April 22, 2015
FMC Corp. has completed the closing of its acquisition of Cheminova A/S, a multinational crop protection company based in Denmark Read More
SoftwareSyngenta Expands AgriEdge Excelsior Nationwide For 2015
April 22, 2015
Growers across the country can now take the guesswork out of improving their farm’s production, land value, farm stewardship and Read More
Cornfield near Sioux City Iowa
HerbicidesU.S. Regulators May Start Testing Food For Glyphosate R…
April 21, 2015
U.S. regulators may start testing food products for residues of the world’s most widely used herbicide, EPA told Reuters’ Carey Read More
FungicidesBRANDT Adds Zonix Biofungicide To Portfolio
April 21, 2015
BRANDT has added Zonix biofungicide to its rapidly expanding line of organic and sustainable products. Zonix is a contact fungicide that Read More
ManagementMissouri Experts: Spring Planting Slow Start Won’…
April 20, 2015
In the first of the agronomy teleconferences with Extension specialists, University of Missouri Extension climatologist Pat Guinan said the slow Read More
Carl Casale of CHS
Industry NewsCooperative CHS Reports Net Income Of $471.5 Million Fo…
April 20, 2015
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, has announced company net income Read More
Industry NewsCHS Insurance Names New Director Of Sales
April 17, 2015
Bryan Lewis has been named director of sales for CHS Insurance, the nation’s largest agribusiness insurance broker and full-service insurance Read More