Nothing Works in Business Until the People Issues are Fixed
WRITTEN BY Shelley Smith
Of the four business opportunities – people, execution, strategy and cash – which would you say is the one common issue across all companies regardless of industry?
To become a high-performing organization, you must address people issues before they get out of hand, because when your people leave, the cash bleeds. You can forget the strategy and the execution when you don’t have the right people or the cash.
People issues can be measured in various ways, however for leaders to maximize a winning team, measuring engagement is key. Engagement is more than a concept to be measured on a survey, but that is a start. Engagement is understanding the role of the job, loving that role and being seen, valued and heard every day.
Engagement shows up in actions as well as survey results. Engagement shows up with existing employees referring candidates for open positions. Improving engagement begins with clear expectations for the job, then hiring someone behaviorally aligned with the job, followed by onboarding that continually excites and motivates that new employee. Creating engagement takes interaction, real conversations and collaboration.
Rather than building engagement, many managers/leaders spend their days with the contaminators and silent killers instead of with the champions and grinders. There are only so many hours in a work day – do you really want to spend leadership salaries “managing” contaminators, or would you rather get a return on mentoring your champions? Motivating them? Elevating them to elevate your entire team, organization and profits? Conversations, real conversation and time with team members, speak volumes and yield the highest return.
Here are some common ways many managers spend their days that may provide opportunities on the people side. You must decide if this is the best use of your time.
Ask yourself: are you reacting or being proactive? Are you mentoring and developing or firefighting? As a manager/leader/owner/executive, cash is a valuable resource; payroll should not be wasted.
- Are you spending more time resolving conflict or preventing it?
- Are you more frequently spending your time disciplining team members or giving them feedback to develop them?
- Are you onboarding with paperwork or setting the culture tone and expectations?
- Are you making your team feel seen, valued and heard at all times, or just when it’s time to point out their mistakes?
- Are you having real conversations to train and motivate and to influence positive engagement or are you hiding in your office under a pile of paperwork?
- Do you know why turnover is happening? At what stage? Is it because of hiring practices? Onboarding problems? The need for training? A lack of leadership?
- Are you delegating correctly? Are you following up with accountability? Do you know how?
- Are you delivering training the same to all or tailoring it to the needs of the job and individuals?
- Are you hiring warm bodies or hiring for the right person in the right seat?
- Are you using assessments to identify motivations for individuals’ behaviors or are you guessing based on what motivates you? What if others are hard-wired differently than you?
- Are you intentionally creating an environment of respect, diversity and inclusion or reacting to differences when they cause a “fire” on the team?
- Are you complaining about call-offs, tardiness and missed deadlines or doing something about it and rewarding for good behavior?
- And the list goes on...
Do you agree?
- Your strategy won’t be fully executed if you have people problems.
- Execution doesn’t happen effectively when you have people problems.
- Your cash flow doesn’t flow well when you have people problems.
So, what do you do?
- Be intentional about developing your people, developing/improving your culture. If you are good . . . don’t ignore it, push it off, or half way do things. If you don’t manage it, it will manage you. It – meaning your culture and your people.
- Don’t try to copy another company’s culture or training program; it won’t work. Create your culture; design it around your mission, your vision, your values, your people. Create a culture that is unique to and aligns with your continual goals. Alignment among all is crucial. This ensures authenticity, relevance, impact and differentiation.
- Don’t hack at it, or short-change your culture – use a framework. Design an experience, understand the behavioral drives and motivations. Co-design the model that engages your workforce with your workforce – your people. From a change-management perspective, this will empower your team members and creates the conditions for greater adoption.