Just as you cannot make that old horse drink, so you cannot make
some employees work more than is fundamentally necessary to keep
them on payroll. They turn up (most days) and in return for a
salary they give you their basic physical and mental presence - and
We tend to want a quick fix for poor performers, but before you
make any rash decisions ask yourself some fundamental
- Are you hoping to improve the performance of certain
individuals, or the overall efficiency of the team?
- Are some team members negatively influencing others?
- Does your management style negatively affect any of your
The answers to these will go a long way to what you should do
If your employees' hearts and souls are not for sale, how else
can you engage them so that they will willingly and consistently
give you their best? Interestingly, recent studies show that money
is often way down the list of motivators.
Coaching is employee development and your only cost is time -
and giving someone time shows you care. Coaching will enable, and
importantly encourage, employees to reach their full potential and
achieve outstanding performance.
Recognition and attention
Be generous with your thanks and bear in mind that personal,
face-to-face recognition goes a long way. Praise someone when the
achievement is fresh in everyone's mind.
You can be creative in your recognition by giving a gift (it
does not need to be expensive) or award, but do not underestimate
the power of applause. Spontaneous applause in a meeting, at lunch
or around someone's office might make them turn red on the outside
but it will make them feel good on the inside too.
Taking the lead
By giving individuals leadership roles you are telling them that
you trust them to take more responsibility in the company. That is
a powerful message and most people will step up to the mark.
Whether it be leading a project, running a training programme,
chairing a meeting or conducting a company tour for visitors, your
public show of faith in them will encourage them to shine.
People often value time more than money so reward achievements
or performance with time off. Offer an extra half hour at lunch,
let them come in late,leave early, or even take a half or full day
off, if your company can afford it.
Improving your team's performance can mean achieving more or
getting the same outcome in less time.
Training should never end, and is more important in tough
economic times than good. Would you expect the Boks to reduce or
stop their rugby training if they were playing badly? Surely it
makes sense to increase training to help them do their job more
Most people spend more waking hours at the office than at home,
so you need to make it fun, too. Organise monthly activities that
will involve as many of your staff or department as possible, from
the tea lady to management.
If you cannot afford to take it out of the office, turn an
office or boardroom into a "play room" so that it is dressed for
the job and everyone gets into the spirit of the moment. Then watch
Negative team members
Negative employees are a drain on morale, which is unfair to the
rest of the team. Regardless of how well they do their job, if one
person's attitude is bringing everyone else down, they are reducing
A private chat to clarify your expectations of them, along with
implementing one or some of the ideas mentioned above, is a good
starting point in addressing this issue.
Is it me?
You are a member of the team so you need to consider your own
behaviour. Always be present and pleasant. Smile at people and
greet each one by name. Take time to stop by their desks or
workstations regularly and ask how they are.
Get to know them as people and learn what is important to them
outside of the workplace. Join your team for lunch whenever
possible, and always have an open door policy so they know they can
come and talk to you when they have concerns.
Once you start paying more attention to your employees and make
a connection with them, many of the issues around poor performance
will improve by themselves.