Are you struggling with low contribution and results from your employees? Do you feel that if you were to look in the other direction for even one minute that your employees will drop the ball on you? That no matter what you do, you don’t feel the loyalty and devotion of your employees?
Your employees don’t care anymore. They are not trying hard enough to solve problems. You keep dealing with high absenteeism and turn over rates.
You are frustrated that you can’t find good people these days to do the hard work.
At the end of the day, you are focused on results, the numbers, and the bottom line. You are pressured with deadlines and unbelievable targets and you are trying to do whatever necessary to meet those targets, but your people are not on the same boat with you.
As much as your focus on performance and results is fundamental for business survival and growth but being overly focused and obsessed about results could be the same reason you are not getting results.
Let me explain. I’ll borrow the example that Stephen Covey has wisely used to illustrate this concept in his legendary book “The 7 habits of highly effective people”. It’s the parable of Aesop’s fable of the goose and golden eggs.
THE GOOSE AND GOLDEN EGGS
It goes like this; a poor farmer once noticed a golden egg in the nest of his pet goose. He couldn’t believe his eyes; he thought that it was a trick. So he grabbed the egg and as he was about to throw it away when he got a different thought that changed his life trajectory. He took a deep look at the egg and realized that it is pure gold! He couldn’t believe his luck! He was thrilled. The next day he went to the nest and found another golden egg! Day after day he would find a new golden egg in the nest. He became fabulously wealthy.
But with his increased wealth he became impatient and greedy. He could no longer wait day after day to get the golden eggs, so he decided to kill the goose and get all the golden eggs at once. But when he opened the goose he realized it was empty. There are no golden eggs and now the goose is gone, there is no way to get more golden eggs.
The man has completely wasted his good fortune simply because he had no balance between what was produced (the golden eggs) and the asset that produced the eggs (the goose), which can also be called the production capability.
BALANCE IS KEY
The balance between what is produced and the production capability is a natural law we cannot override. Imagine if you continuously use your car without doing any maintenance or service check-ups. Your car most probably won’t last for a year; it will fall apart in front of your eyes. But if you were to take care of your car and do the regular maintenance and service check-ups, you will spend years driving and enjoying your car.
Too much focus on the production and no focus on the production capability is the problem that many businesses face. The obsession with short term results, of wanting results NOW no matter what it takes to get them - even if it means having a depleted dysfunctional relationship with employees, even if you ignore the health, wellbeing, and welfare of your employees and even if you build a culture based on no trust – is what’s creating lack of results.
Contrary to this, it doesn’t mean that you have to solely focus on the production capability and ignore the production. Too much focus on production capability is also problematic. For example, if you only focus on being liked by your employees, and you never challenge them to grow to the next level, you only care about their comfort, and you reward everyone the same regardless of their level of contribution because it’s the likable thing to do, then if you still manage to have a business, your best employees are going to leave you and you are going to end up with spoiled mediocre brats.
A balance between production and production capability is the name of the game. It’s when you are able to genuinely care for your employees, listen to them and understand them, cultivate trust, coach and mentor them and provide support when needed, treat them with the respect and dignity that they deserve, and leave room for them to be creative, then you’ll have motivated employees that strive to be and give their best day in and day out.
GET INVESTED IN YOUR EMPLOYEES
One great example I could think of is when my sister and her husband got their second child; with 2 working parents things became too stressful, too crazy and chaotic even with the help of family. So they hired a nanny to keep an eye on their two kids especially when they were away at work. I went back home and visited my family soon after they got the nanny. It didn’t take me a lot to figure out how much my nieces loved the nanny and how much she loved them and was taking good care of them.
I also couldn’t help to notice how she was treated as a valued member of the family. Nobody makes her feel that she is any different than any family member or that she is there only to do her job. Everybody always makes sure that her needs are exceedingly met. Sometimes we would strike conversations with her and occasionally exchange jokes. Everybody always recognizes her, sympathizes with her and supports her when the kids are too much to handle and they give her a hard time – which happens a lot. But she is unbelievably patient and the kids just adore her.
So I was talking about it one day with my sister and her husband, that they’re really lucky to have such a wonderful nanny because I keep hearing stories how other people really struggle to find a good one. So my brother in law turned to me and said ‘We are entrusting her with our kids, so we made it clear right from the start that her sole responsibility is to make sure our kids are safe, sound and treated right. And we made sure that we treat her like family so that she can love our kids as if they were her own’. That made a lot of sense to me, but as common sense, as it makes; I realized it’s not common practice.
Imagine how effective businesses could be if they treated employees the way they wanted them to treat their best customers. Off course you could say, I don’t need to go that far, I employ people and pay them money and in return, they need to be doing their job.
You can borrow strengths from your authority to command your employee to deliver as requested and to threaten him with being fired if he doesn’t. You may be able to ensure his physical presence but you’ll never be able to tap into the resourcefulness and resolve of the mind, neither the passion nor creative juices of the heart.
Or you could try to manipulate an employee to perform her best. You could even promise her financial rewards. But if it doesn’t stem from the right place and principles, if you are not treating her with fairness, nor genuinely being invested in her growth and wellbeing, she will never be truly invested in your goals as an employer.
You can never buy your employees heart and mind. For your employees to volunteer, their heart and mind require a paradigm shift. This requires you to look at your employees and treat them in a completely different way. To treat them as voluntary participants in your business activity just like your customers.
Getting invested in your employees as much as you are invested in performance, and striking the balance between short term and long-term results is what’s going to allow you to grow your business and reap results.
Off course that takes time and effort and character. It takes more time and more strength of character to build relationships than to just manipulate or borrow your authority to command your employees to deliver results. But it’s time well invested because on the long run it’s going to save you a lot of time, effort and money dealing with lack of motivation, poor performance, customer complaints, absenteeism and turn over.
TIPS ON DEALING WITH EMPLOYEES
So what can you start doing today?
INTEGRATE THE RIGHT PRINCIPLES
The key to motivating your team and inciting higher levels of performance is showing them that you are on their side and that you are in this together, but it has to come from the right principles. Principles such as fairness, integrity, responsibility, honesty, service, excellence, trust, human dignity, and encouragement.
Trying to implement management mechanisms without integrating the right principles in our own character will be interpreted as manipulation and will end up with even worse consequences. So as a leader in your business or organization, the most crucial step is to be clear on your principles and the lens in which you see the world. Who do you want to be? What principles guide you in your life and business? What kind of impact do you want to leave on others?
About the Author
Hey there! I’m Lara Cattan. I’m a Certified High Performance Coach and a fanatic when it comes to self-growth and success strategies. My passion is teaching and coaching entrepreneurs and high achievers how to overcome their obstacles, breakthrough to their next level of success, and amplify their business results while enjoying what they do.