As a small business owner, I have around twenty-five people that I employ. In business, the lower the turnover and the more independently your staff can perform with you the greater profits and freedom you have.
Photo by: KCNewman Photography
My industry of quick serve means that many employees this is their first job. On top of this minimum wage employment is a high turnover industry. Within my restaurants turnover is minuscule compared to the sector average, and I have a few employees that have been with me for ten years.
I have acquired the skill and talent of turning low performers into some of my best workers. It is not easy and requires patience, but it has its rewards that make it worth the effort. There are a lot of diamonds in the rough that with the right heart attitude and training can become the most loyal and awesome employees.
A lot of employers make assumptions with low performers that employees don’t care or aren’t hard workers when the problem and solution look much different. I have found that as employers we think we are much better at communicating than we are. If you have an employee that is a struggle walk through these steps before firing them.
Baseline The first question that needs to get addressed is whether the “problem” employee has a head problem or a heart problem. If you are unsure, you can ask them. Employees will let you know if you have built a rapport. Here is the difference, are they missing the skill and knowledge to do the job or the motivation to do the job? Do you need to train them or motivate them? Often managers and owners assume an awareness that is not there and the employee doesn’t even know they are nut cutting the mustard. Establish whether it is a head or heart problem and follow the three steps accordingly.
Winning. What does winning look like? You have taught the skills. However, have you been explicit about the expectations you have? We say a lot of things that aren’t specific such as hard work or clean? Don’t assume common sense and in detail describe what that means to you. Define priorities and how high the bar is set. Being on time, working fast, and independently are things that need to be stated. Make it measurable and measure it often so that there is no doubt if expectations are being met.
Why. The task itself is not enough. You need to explain the why behind the task. The why enables thinking. The why fends off going through the motions and missing the meaning behind the task. When I go into my local Subway, they say, “Welcome to Subway” every time. The problem is they are usually saying it in a monotone voice not giving eye contact. I feel so appreciated. The words have been taught, but the reason is missing. It is to make the customer feel welcomed. Eye contact and tone of voice is way more important than the words. Keep the why first in its proper place.
Growth. Opportunity for growth within the company and growth mentally is crucial to keeping your employees engaged mentally. As humans, we are either growing or shrinking. Make sure that your team members are learning personally and within your organization. Keep an environment of growth to help your employees to stay engaged and to expand their skill and talent.
Their passion. What are the goals of their life and how can your company help them? Change the training as much as possible to their inner cry of their heart. One of my employees wants to be a missionary. Everything at the point of sale we teach her as it will help her in the mission field. Even food cost numbers can be shown as far as controlling finances for a small budget. Teach with the understanding of their passion to get the heart engaged.
Their skill. Put the people in the right places on the bus as Jim Collins states. You need to set up your employees into a position to win. They need to operate with their talent and skills. There is nothing worse than doing a job you are bad at. One that you never can thrive in. If you don’t have a spot to let your employee work in their skill, you need to let them go. Skill is an area you should hire slow and fire fast.
Your heart. Your staff needs to know you care. Caring can be faked temporarily but in the long run it can’t. If you don’t care for people and their future, you will never be great at leading. If you do care, you need to show them. You need to reward them and encourage them to be the best version of yourself. In supporting them and caring for them, they will care for you. You will be more than just a boss but a leader and friend how they will come to long after they work for you.
Engage your employee’s mind and heart if you do your business will never be the same. It will be so much more than making money. Money is a byproduct of having rock star employees that care for your company almost as much as you do. Don’t put the pressure of caring on the same level as you. But do demand excellence. Teach your employees heart and mind and you and your business will be blessed on your journey.
How do you guide your employees into being great?