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5 Steps To Maximize Employee Performance And Morale


Employees Need Goals, Feedback and Recognition To Do Their Best.
By Steve Schumacher

In talking to employees for more than 25 years, there have been three constants: 1) they aren’t involved in setting goals and objectives, 2) they don’t get enough feedback from their boss, and 3) if they do a good job they never hear about it. There are numerous reasons for this. Managers say things like “I’m too busy,” “they get paid to do a good job,” “if I let them set goals they will set the­­­­m too low,” and “I’m here to fix problems, not pat people on the back.”

If you take the following five easy steps you will not only raise productivity of your employees, you will make them feel more included in the business and take morale to high levels.

1.  Find out how your employees keep score. Identify 2-3 key measures of performance that employees understand and can affect through their individual efforts. These can be measures of quantity, quality, cost, or timeliness. Don’t make them high-level accounting or finance measures. Your front-line employees find those interesting but don’t feel they can affect them directly. We all like to keep score with our work.

2.  Put those measures on graphs. Everyone likes to see graphs of how they are doing. People get excited about seeing visual scorecards instead of spreadsheets with rows and columns of meaningless data. Keep the graphs simple with a line showing the history of performance, so employees can see progress. The graphs should be used for feedback, not analysis. Post the graphs in public places so employees can see how they are doing without much effort. Employees should be able to simply walk by the graph and see how performance is doing. If they have to stop and analyze it they will lose interest quickly.

3.  Involve employees in setting goals. Once you’ve decided on the measures and graphed them, get your employees together and ask them what they think they can achieve. In my experience, employees will tell you a goal that is beyond their reach. Your job, as a manager, is to help them set a goal that is achievable. You can always raise the goal as performance improves. Once the goal has been set, mark it on the graph. Now you have a visual display of performance that people can measure progress against their history and their goal.

4.  Use the graphs for performance feedback. Whenever you have employees together, share the graph and talk about how they are doing and if the goal is still reasonable. Take advantage of staff meetings, safety meetings, and tailgate meetings to give employees feedback using the graphs. If you don’t make them a regular part of your discussions with employees, they will simply become wallpaper that no one notices. Make the measures and graphs a regular part of your discussions with employees in groups and one-on-one. Ask them how you can help them achieve the goals.

5.  Celebrate and recognize achievement. Give personal face-to-face recognition and praise when employees make progress toward the goal. Don’t wait for the goal to be hit before you give them a pat on the back. Comment on how they have progressed over the history. When they hit the goal, plan some formal recognition. Find out what your employees like for recognition. Get your management team together to brainstorm ideas and ways to recognize achievement.

Managers often tell me they don’t know what to talk to their employees about when it comes to their performance. They often feel constrained to only talking about performance when it’s performance review time. We all want more feedback on how we’re doing and where we stand in the eyes of our boss. Setting up some meaningful measures and scoreboards give everyone a constant view of how they are doing. Asking employees what they can achieve ensures they will buy into the goals and have ownership for them. It’s impossible for employees to disagree with goals that they have set themselves. We all like to be recognized for a job well done, and this process sets you and your employees up for success in both performance and recognizing that performance.

Steve Schumacher is a management consultant, trainer and public speaker with more than 25 years of experience in numerous industries throughout North America, including aggregates operations. He can be reached at  .