It is easy to assume weak employee skills are to blame when sales or productivity are down. In an attempt to boost productivity, managers will roll out a training initiative to improve the knowledge and talent used to drive performance. It’s been our experience that short falls in productivity are often the result of environmental factors managers can control and not necessarily a deficiency in employee skills.
Managers assume their direct reports understand the results that are expected and know the best approach to get there. Apparently, this isn’t the case for many. According to Gallup, only about half of employees ‘strongly agree’ that they understand what is expected of them at work. Obviously, to hold team members accountable for results—they must clearly understand the results expected…and how to get there.
One way managers can positively impact the productivity of their direct reports is to strengthen communication. This is the fastest most effective way to boost performance and results. Only 32 percent of employees, in the same Gallup survey, said their manager assists them in setting or reviewing performance goals. As a leader, the more clearly you set expectations and goals up front, the less time you’ll need to determine what went wrong later.
There are two practical management methods that significantly improve the quality of relationship between manager and his/her team and productivity. They are
One-On-One Sessions. These are short (30 min) weekly meetings managers’ conduct with each team member. They are designed to:
Catch Up on the status of projects pending
Confer about challenges to results expected
Connect on issues (both professional and personal) that build intimacy and loyalty in the relationship.
For a FREE copy of a helpful cheat sheet used to conduct One-On-One Sessions, download it here.
Another successful strategy to boost performance is the monthly Mentorship Meeting. This is a status meeting with each team member to review performance, tactical efforts and goals at a higher level. Too often, employees mistake feedback from managers as corrective or being in ‘trouble’. As a result, they dread, fear or withdrawal from what would otherwise be valuable learning opportunities. Inconsistent review of issues that matter to employees creates distance in manager-direct relationship and promotes job dissatisfaction and disengagement. Monthly Mentorship Meetings keep momentum moving forward in a positive direction.
If you think your people are happy, motivated and good to go…. think again. Gallup learned in a recent study that only 20% of sales people describe themselves as being ‘very’ or ‘extremely satisfied’ at work. And, just 42% say they are ‘satisfied’ Monday-Friday’s. This suggests, a considerable 62% of your sales team is probably not as passionate about work as you might think they are.
As an effective leader, you must lean in when employees may be leaning out. One reliable way to remedy low job satisfaction is to connect with consistent coaching sessions. This includes hosting weekly and monthly meetings to check in and observe where their head, heart and habits are. One-On-One and Mentorship Meetings offer a great opportunity for both of you to step above day-to-day activities and see how employee efforts are translating into results (both good and bad).
Employee productivity, therefore, is not necessarily a reflection of skills. More often than not, performance is a by-product of the culture and conditions managers create. Leaders can shape the behavior of their team by elevating the environment through clear consistent communication, practical processes and finally serving as positive role model for the actions and attitudes they desire. In the end of the day, you are usually the best training program some employees will ever attend!
Use this FREE One-on-One Cheat Sheet to start your sessions now.