Company Culture Series: Post 4 of 5

Getting the Most Out of Your Employees

So far, we’ve been looking at the big picture of company culture. With the amount of high-level planning that comes with overhauling how a company functions, it’s easy to lose perspective. With that in mind, let’s look at how you can improve your company from the ground by bringing out the best in your employees.

This project is likely to exist in one form or another throughout the life of your company. Each new generation of workers comes with their own set of values and professional goals. These shifts will inevitably influence how you motivate your employees, but the following suggestions are timeless methods for bringing out the best in your employees.

Clearly communicate your expectations

Even the most well-intentioned delegators can run afoul of this suggestion. Often, it comes from the curse of knowledge, an affliction of professionals for whom a task or area of expertise is so ingrained that they assume it is common knowledge to everybody around them. This danger is compounded when onboarding recent graduates, as you can never be sure exactly what blind spots were left in their education.

Whether you’re onboarding or giving an existing employee a new responsibility, take the time to clearly establish what you want. Imagine you’re giving directions to someone from out of town and make sure that you draw a path from where they are to where they should be with noticeable benchmarks along the way.

Provide a pathway for improvement

Performance reviews are standard practice across all industries. They are an opportunity for an employee and a supervisor to go over strengths and areas for improvement. This essential practice, however, can be an easy casualty to a growing office.

As your workplace expands, existing employees are quite often promoted or switch departments entirely. New people are brought in and projects fill up your workers’ schedules as everybody dashes to keep pace with your company’s success. With all these changing roles, it’s understandable that tracking a single worker’s progress, and even having a supervisor in a position long enough to track said progress, can be daunting. Part of your plan for scaling up should include establishing standards for measuring performance in each department.

Express gratitude

This is a cheap and highly effective way to improve or maintain a worker’s performance, although it can be a little tricky to master.

One way to build out this part of your company culture is to ask yourself what your company does to recognize when employees go the extra mile. Do you have an office-wide celebration (or even a special mention during a regular meeting) for a notable achievement for an employee? If you chose to recognize the achievements of individual workers, have you structured your gratitude mechanism in a way that takes into consideration the unique ways that all your departments contribute to your company’s success.

You can even throw a company-wide BBQ to celebrate a successful execution during your company’s busy time of year. There are a wide range of options to express gratitude officewide, but don’t forget what you can do on the day-to-day level.

While you may have incentives and formal ways of recognition for employees’ achievements, the unplanned opportunities for positive reinforcement can be just as, or even more, effective. If a supervisor spots an employee doing something well (even if they don’t realize it themselves) a well-placed compliment on their performance can reinforce their positive contributions and build a sense of team loyalty. Make sure your supervisors are trained to spot and reinforce these target behaviours on the ground.

Take suggestions

We’ve already explored the importance of accepting feedback in previous posts, but it bears mentioning here. Company meetings are an excellent forum for requesting general feedback. Your employees are a wealth of ground-level experience within the workplace. Requesting, acknowledging and praising the feedback of workers should be a fixture in your company culture.

The suggestions outlined in this article can help you bring out the best in your existing roster of workers, but what about those who will come through the door in the coming days/months/years? Our next article will explore how to effectively onboard employees so that you are setting up your new hires for a bright future with your company.

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