If you can cover these two, then you are probably 90% of the way towards getting the best from your employees. So in practice what can you do to improve these areas?
1. Give them a clear job description
Oh yes, I can hear you! You’re saying “it doesn’t matter that my staff don’t have a job description, they know what they’re supposed to be doing – and anyway we don’t need more paper around.”
Well of course you think they know what they are doing, and if you ask them they will say they do – because they don’t want to sound stupid in front of you. OK they probably do know 80% of it, but if you want them to do the best job (not just OK) then it makes sense to start with the basics and make sure they are very clear about your expectations. So get those job descriptions up to date and refer to them with your employees regularly so that they stay relevant and up-to-date.
2. Set quarterly performance reviews
Of course the job description is a general statement, but the detail and the priorities will vary and for a senior job there will also be special projects that come and go. So have a review meeting quarterly with each employee where you discuss what has worked and what hasn’t over the last quarter and then set targets for the next quarter. I know it seems like alot of work, but believe me, everyone feels better afterwards. It will give both you and your employee a boost and when you get into the habit it becomes easy and rewarding.
3. Weekly 1-2-1s
Again, I can hear you thinking that this is a waste of time, but it really does work. It is a simple discipline of a weekly ½ hour catch up when you discuss how things went last week and set priorities for the week ahead. But the major thing it does is provide a time when they can bring up minor concerns and you can pull them up on minor things too. So the little niggles get dealt with while they are just niggles and don’t build up to be big issues.
4. Listen to your employees
Find time occasionally to take relaxed moments with your employees, when you can get them talking and then listen carefully. Hear their view of the world and what is important to them. It may seem irrelevant, but there may come a time when you need to draw on that relationship, so it will pay off in the long run.
5. Be seen to be fair
It is important to be fair with your employees, but even more important to be seen to be fair. So when you catch yourself favouring an employee, just make sure they know why and, if possible, others know why too.