Building a Foundation of Success for Employees

Lay a foundation for employee successNew employees often enter the ‘honeymoon stage’ full of energy and great ideas. Then, as personalities, management styles, and organizational realities are revealed, the employee’s performance or perceived fit with the company may begin to shift. To break this cycle and avoid blaming another employee departure on a “bad hire”, make sure you are providing a foundation of success for your employees. Start by asking:

1. Does the employee understand what is expected of them?

A job description is a great starting point, but leadership and companies are often moving quickly to respond to customer and market needs, so it is important to regularly communicate to an employee what is expected of them.  This discussion should include priorities, time allocation, and how to respond to competing requests or an overwhelming workload.

2. Has the employee been trained and equipped?

Even if an employee comes with applicable experience, training is still essential and the learning curve can be dramatically reduced by educating an employee on your organization’s processes, tools, preferences, industry, subject matter experts and working styles.

3. Does the employee frequently receive feedback on how they are doing?

Once an employee has their “sea legs”, it is easy to neglect the need for frequent, honest and constructive feedback. Even seasoned employees need to know how they are doing and where they stand. Taking a just-in-time approach enables employees to make course corrections rather than delivering work that misses the mark.

4. Does the employee understand how their job relates to the success of the company?

You have hired a person—not a robot. So do not expect to give orders that are blindly followed. Rather, employees need to know how their work contributes to the success of the company, including why their work is important and how the quality of their work impacts others.

5. Are there mutually understood measurements of the employee’s performance?

How an employee’s performance is assessed should not be a mystery. Instead, the employee and manager should be referencing commonly understood measurements that are reliable indicators of the employee’s current or historical performance or leading indicators of anticipated performance.

Just as building a house requires setting a firm foundation to withstand the test of time, taking these steps with your employees creates rapid integration and proficiency to weather the storms of change and normal business cycles. Although using these techniques takes time and discipline, most of our business results are dependent on our people. An ongoing strategy to invest in employee development can pay significant dividends, especially in small to medium sized businesses.