Wednesday, May 25, 2011

It's Not My Job!

How many times have you heard an employee pass the buck when asked about an unfinished project? Or, if not actually heard this from an employee, at least witnessed it expressed through their actions. This employee is limited to do their job barely to the extent of their job description and no more. "It's not my job," is their motto and it is this type of attitude in an employee that can spread like a cancer to other members of your team causing harm to your business.

Ultimately, it is your responsibility to remedy the situation and to either get this team member back on board and 100% in the game or to send this person on their way to finding a job elsewhere.

"Too many leaders act as if the sheep.. their people.. are there for the benefit of the shepherd, not that the shepherd has responsibility for the sheep." ---Ken Blanchard

There are three critical steps that you as a business owner or leader can do to ensure that all of your team members are willing to give their all for the future of the organization as well as for their future success:

1.) Create Ownership -- It is a proven fact that your employees will be more productive, more into the game as a team member, and more on board with helping the business achieve its goals if you allow them to own their job. After you've sunk so much time and so much money into finding the key personnel for your business, doesn't it make sense to allow them to do what they were hired to do? If you have to babysit them and micro-manage every aspect of their job, didn't you mis-hired. You didn't really trust your gut on this one. You wasted your time and their time.

Coors Brewery had a strong union at one time. The union members fought with management for years for decent wages, good working conditions, and a chance to get supervisors off their backs. The tension was at a constant high day in and day out.

Then, something changed. Management began to treat employees with respect. They began trusting those they hired to get the job done. Over time, the employees of Coors voted to no longer be represented by a union.

Don't allow a union mentality to develop in your business. Once you hire a person, let them do their job. Provide guidance and help when needed, but let them own the job. If they fail, let everyone learn from it and then move on. Give them the freedom to work.

2.) Share Ownership -- If you really want your employees to shine, give them a piece of the pie. Profit-sharing or other forms of sharing of the business gives the employee a sense of pride that shows in their work. No longer will you see or hear, "It's not my job," but you will witness overlapping where one employee will stay late to assist another with a project. While on location at a client's business, I witnessed a member of the office staff pick up a piece of trash in the parking lot on her way to lunch. She took pride in the appearance of "her" business.

Sharing the company with employees gives them the opportunity to see how their work impacts the greater good of the business and that what is good for the business is good for their bottom line as well.

3.) Take Ownership -- Finally take ownership of your business. You probably have more blood, sweat and tears put into the business than anyone else working there. If you find an employee that can't pull their weight or won't do their job, it is time to re-train them or let them go. As my good friend Tim says, "If they tell you they won't or they can't, believe them." In other words, don't try to fight them if they are not willing to change. Believe them and wish them well in the future endeavors.

You don't have to keep an employee who does not want to be on your team. So many employers are afraid to fire an employee. News stories about lawsuits and employees with a team of lawyers scares the britches off of some business leaders. Don't let it! If you've kept good records, treated the employee fairly, but the fit just isn't there, send them down the road.

Monday, May 9, 2011

If They're Not With Us, They're Against Us

There is a lot of "team player" talk from management gurus and consultants like me. Our intent is to get everyone on board and believing the mission statement and living the vision statement. While the phrase leans too much toward a generality and is becoming one of those overused, outmoded phrases in the same vein as "at the end of the day," and "no news is good news," (particularly when used during performance reviews), the concept is vital to the success of your business.

Having employees on the team and really playing their part on the team, is crucial to business success. Most businesses can't afford the luxury of leaving a bench warmer on the team just because he is a nice guy or she is the relative of one of the owners. As painful as it is, and being a business leader has its painful moments, the non-performers must go.

Determining to make every member of your organization a true team player starts with a good delivery of the team's mission.

"We want passion for our business.. workers who can interpret and execute our mission, who want to build a career, not just take a temporary job." --- Howard Schultz

If you have clearly communicated the direction of the business, and continue to make that communication a daily priority, you'll either have devoted team members, or those who are not devoted. The decision then is simple: get rid of the un-devoted!

Employees answered a call when you were hiring for your business. They saw a fit and an opportunity to earn money, advance in their career, fulfill a calling, and a half dozen other reasons. They depend on your leadership to continually reinforce the reason for the business and how their position contributes to that reason.

There are three things that you can begin doing this week to either improve on or validate the reasons for your team members to be a part of your team:

1.) Dust off your mission statement (or write one today if you don't have one!) and either through company face-to-face meeting (preferred), or electronic communication, explain what that mission statement means and how it is one of the driving forces the propels the business.

2.) Do the same with the vision statement, but in this case, create a committee of employees to assist with developing the vision statement. Have the committee get input from all stakeholders including customers and vendors. Make it a company-wide creation so that everyone owns it.

3.) Come up with a company slogan that can be easily memorized. Make it a contest to come up with the best slogan. The winner gets dinner for two someplace nice or some other worthy award. Print bumper stickers or have coffee mugs made up with the slogan. Make the slogan have a meaning that incorporates both the mission and vision statements and what the organization is all about.

Get at least these three things started and watch a team concept develop. You'll begin to see cohesion and individual ownership take place. Yes, you'll still have non-players, but they will become easier to recognize. You're not getting rid of the ones who didn't participate in your slogan rally or statement creations, but the ones who don't believe in the direction of the business.
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