Maintain an environment for happy and productive staff March 1, 2010

Staff leave managers, not companies.

At each three-month performance review, employees assess their managers against 12 criteria, but managers work on each criteria all the time, with individual employees. It is one of the most important aspects of a manager’s job to ensure each of these criteria are met, so the manager is assessed at a 3 at minimum.

  1. I know what is expected of me
  2. I have what I need to do my work right
  3. My manager resolves issues I bring to their attention
  4. I am able to do what I do best, every day
  5. I receive recognition and praise
  6. I feel cared about as a person
  7. My development is encouraged
  8. My opinions get the attention they deserve
  9. I make a meaningful contribution to our vision and mission
  10. My workmates are committed to doing quality work
  11. I have warm and friendly relationships with my workmates
  12. I am constantly aware of my performance
  13. I have opportunities to learn and grow

These form a hierarchy of needs, meaning that the needs higher in the list cannot be addressed well, unless those lower in the list have been dealt with (these are adapted from the book First, break all the rules, Marcus Buckingham, on our reading list).

For example, if an employee does not have what they need to do their work right, they are not going to be concerned about learning or growing yet – the former is a more fundamental need. Once filled, the next most important thing to be addressed are those in the second tier, and so on.

As a manger, all of these needs must be met for each employee in their care.

I know what is expected of me

By understanding what is expected of them at work, employees are able to deliver results. The company has mandated ways employees must be informed of this:

  1. A detailed and accurate Position Description
  2. An induction period, where company-specific skills are taught
  3. A role-specific Detailed Duties List, with associated checklists; policy and procedure documents
  4. Interpretation of relevant Principles-Of policies, as they apply to this role
  5. Regular check-ins with their manager to:
    1. Assess progress and provide guidance on projects
    2. Review performance against KPI’s if appropriate
    3. Discuss matters relevant to the employee
    4. Three-monthly performance reviews

The manager has a 360o discussion with the employee to ensure they know what is expected of them, checking for understanding (for example, have them rephrase in their own words). The manager must be able to prove to themselves (perhaps using an established system) that the employee genuinely does know what is expected of them, and they can and are doing it correctly.

I have what I need to do my work right

Employees need materials, equipment, information, and access levels to be able to do their job right. Part of a manager’s role is to remove genuine obstacles (or, where possible, educating staff to remove their own obstacles in the future). Managers balance wants and needs in line with the company’s goals, vision, mission, and current priorities.

My manager resolves issues I bring to their attention

While it seems that if an employee knows what is expected of them, and has what they need to do their work should be enough, other things can affect an employee’s performance and happiness. These things must be addressed just as promptly as a request for more red pens.

Some examples might include, being distracted by noise from another area, needing special consideration for short-term personal issues, immediate work environment (for example, being sensitive to the heat or cold, or wanting more natural light), allergic to animals.

I am able to do what I do best, every day

Of course, doing your best makes you feel good. Being able to do it every day feels fantastic! Managers manage the employees workload to ensure they spend most of their time doing things they excel at.

The manager needs to extract from the employee what empowers them, and makes them feel good. The employee needs to be able to articulate what gets them excited. Creating an environment where this can happen is the responsibility of the manager and employee together.

I receive recognition and praise

Receiving recognition and praise is key to feeling a part of something, and that your contribution is appreciated. As part of rolling up new employees, managers discuss how that person prefers to receive recognition, and caters to their preference where possible.

Great Managers know that one size does not fit all. Spending time with employees and identifying what they are most proud of helps, but taking time to notice the effort, intellect, innovation and creativity they have brought to their work.

I feel cared about as a person

The ability to feel and experience emotions are a fundamental part of being human.  When we’re at work, these aspects of our humanness don’t cease to exist!  On one hand, emotional outbursts are inappropriate behaviour for work, but taking someone’s feelings into consideration is an important ingredient of creating a nourishing work environment.  It’s something we do as workmates and especially important in the manager/employee relationship.  Being in tune will allow communication to flow freely and make it possible to be sensitive to the individual.

My development is encouraged

Development includes professional and career development (inside and outside of the company), and personal hopes, dreams and aspirations. Managers know that by creating an open environment where personal goals can be realised, employees will feel empowered and excited. Managers push the responsibility for development to employees to mange, and take a guiding and mentoring role, setting employees up to succeed.

My opinions get the attention they deserve

Most people want to feel heard. They want their opinions sought, considered and given the attention they deserve.  There is nothing more dispiriting than coming up with endless suggestions only to be ignored. Excellent Managers take time to listen, consider and engage with employee’s opinions. Great innovation can come from these discussions.  While it is important to focus efforts to the company’s goals, it’s just as important to actively listen with an open mind to new possibilities.

There are also learning opportunities for both the manager and employee in offering and considering opinions, including those that may seem to be contrary to conventional wisdom. The employee can learn; they are on the mark; completely off the mark; somewhere in between. No idea or hypothesis is silly; they need to be analysed and tested before being ruled out. The Manager can learn where the employee is at and provide guidance so future input will be well considered and has the opportunity to flourish.

I make a meaningful contribution to our vision, mission and goals

Meaningful work is core to job satisfaction, and great Managers know that employees feel unfulfilled and disempowered without it. Managers actively guide employees to understand how their contributions contribute to our vision, mission and goals.

My workmates are committed to doing quality work

Managers know that poor performers don’t only reduce the output of the department, they de-motivate others, causing them to question their own work ethic. Professional managers ensure that all team members (and, where possible, the entire company) are participating effectively, by mentoring poor performers, and simply exiting non-performers.

I have warm and friendly relationships with my workmates

Managers know that if a person does not feel they belong in a work environment, they are more likely to seek employment elsewhere. Of course managers cannot prescribe who should be friends with whom, but they can create a permissive, respectful, engaging, fun and supportive environment where people naturally form strong and healthy friendships.

I am constantly aware of my performance

Managers provide regular feedback to individuals so they are aware of how they are performing. This may be by having fortnightly KPI reviews, informal discussions on active projects, or a host of other methods, but it is essential an employee knows they are meeting or exceeding the established standards.

Most employees are required to maintain data collection regarding their own performance, making this easy to manage.

I have opportunities to learn and grow

Within the confines of company’s priorities, opportunities to learn and grow must be made available to all employees. This may be technical skills, broad knowledge of business principles, observing, calibrating and refining existing business processes, specific and detailed understanding of project-related drivers, and many others.

Learning causes people to grow, and feel empowered to contribute.

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