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Getting the Most out of Your Employees without ‘Killing’ Them

Every company strives to achieve and maintain the two big “P’s” – Productivity and Profitability. It’s universally accepted that a huge part of achieving both is making sure the third ‘P’ is working for you – your People. But in your efforts to get the most out of your people, are you ‘killing’ them? So, what are the secrets to keeping you and your team on track, happy to be at work and performing at their very best?

Bernadette Eichner
Bernadette Eichner
Exhausted female office worker face down on her desk

Every company strives to achieve and maintain the two big “P’s” – Productivity and Profitability – the cornerstones of business sustainability and longevity.

It’s universally accepted that a huge part of achieving both is making sure the third ‘P’ is working for you. Your People.

But in your efforts to get the most out of your people, are you ‘killing’ them? Are you demanding more and just expecting they’ll deliver?

And then getting all hurt and snippy when they can’t. Or won’t.

Or perhaps you just throw money at the problem, thinking that will change their attitude.

Staff dissatisfaction and fatigue are the fastest ways to kill productivity and profitability. And the fastest way to lose staff. And money won’t solve either of those problems.

Happy and healthy staff work faster and harder and sell more to customers who enjoy interacting with happy and healthy people – it’s a simple equation.

So, what are the secrets to keeping you and your team on track, happy to be at work and performing at their very best?

10 of the most effective ways to improve team morale and performance

1. Get everyone on the same page with what the goals are

People work better together when they know what they are meant to be doing and why. Make sure everyone knows what the company’s goals and values are and how they are expressed. And this isn’t an email or a newsletter item. It’s an ongoing conversation – from induction to team meetings to company events.

2. Keep your own troubles to yourself

Running a business is hard. There are days when you wonder if it’s worth it. There are days when you are just too tired to make good decisions. There are days when you are disappointed in a team member for some reason. None of your emotional journeys should be projected onto your team. It’s not their fault and they are not the ones who can solve the problem for you. Employees respond best to a leader who is calm, consistent, emotionally reliable and focussed on solutions.

3. Catch them out doing something right and boost their confidence

Feeling ‘good’ at work is the number one reason people stay in jobs. They love what they do and love the people they work with and for. And the most effective unexpected boost to this is when they are ‘caught’ doing something right and complimented on it.

4. Deliver what you promise

Over-promising and under-delivering is a killer in any relationship. Sometimes we make promises to people to incentivise them but then never deliver on them – either because we can’t or have decided not to for whatever reason. This is a sure-fire way of destroying trust and loyalty at work. If you don’t do what you say you will do, you are quickly tagged as someone whose word cannot be counted on. Always delivering what you promise builds credibility, trust and loyalty.

5. Be transparent and truthful in your communications

This follows on from a couple of points above. Be open and honest in your communications with staff but in such a way that you’re informing, constructive and encouraging. When we communicate like this, others feel safe and happy to get involved in solving the problems at hand.

6. Trust them – give them a voice

You have employed your team because you trust they can do the job. Asking for their input is a demonstration of that trust and will foster loyalty and problem-solving behaviours. When people are asked their opinion, they feel valued – the #1 reason why people stay in jobs.

7. Thank them

Two of the four most powerful words in relationship building are ‘thank you’. When someone does a good job or takes the initiative to solve a problem, thank them. Genuinely. And if you can do it publicly, even better. Positive reinforcement is the act of rewarding a positive behaviour in order to encourage it to happen again in the future and is the most powerful way of fostering productive behaviour.

8. Apologise when you are wrong or out of line

The other two most important words are “I’m sorry”. If you’re wrong about something or have behaved badly, own it and apologise. Knowing you ‘own your sh*t’ will endear you to staff and foster their respect. Rather than judge you for it, they’ll recognise you as the human being you are and actually go out of their way to please you and keep you happy.

9. Give them the proper tools or technology they need to do their job well

“A poor worker always blames their tools” isn’t necessarily true. More often than not, good workers are hampered and compromised by having to work with poor tools or technology that’s not fit-for-purpose. If people have the right tools and have had the right training, managing their performance on the job becomes fairer and more genuine.

10. ‘Walk the talk’ every day

None of the above will work if you don’t ‘walk the talk’. That is, always ensure your actions align with your words. For example, if you say you want people’s input and then don’t ask for it or welcome it when it’s given, then you’re not walking the talk. It’s just hollow words. When people can see you are living your words in real actions, your credibility is enhanced and trust and loyalty happens.

Every single interaction is an opportunity to build credibility, trust and loyalty

If you’re trying to improve productivity and profitability, then credibility, trust and loyalty in your workplace are the cornerstones to your business success.

Credibility is the quality of knowing your business well, being trusted and believed in, and leading the way for others.

Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, authors of The Leadership Challenge say it best:

“Credibility makes a difference, and leaders must take it personally. Loyalty, commitment, energy, and productivity depend on it”.

Trust is essential for any relationship to work. And research shows that people who work in companies with a high-trust rating are 74% less stressed, 50% more productive and are 40% less likely to experience burnout. For you, that means reduced staff turnover and higher productivity.

Loyalty increases corporate knowledge, retains customers and reduces staff turnover. Loyal employees care more about how their performance contributes to your success and are more likely to align their own interests with yours.

Every single interaction you have with team members is an opportunity to build all three by using the 10 tips above – set people up to succeed, encourage them along the way, share information at every turn, thank them for their efforts, and support them through the tough times.

Bernadette Eichner
Bernadette Eichner

Bernadette Eichner, Cofounder and CEO of Just Right People, is a recruitment industry entrepreneur and thought leader in Australia, totally committed to improving the recruiter experience for clients and candidates alike. Her secret to life is to “just do the next thing that needs to be done”.

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