I’m convinced that most employees go to work with the intention of doing a good job.
However, there are times when we simply get in their way of doing just that.
The approach to overseeing employees should be strategic in how the day-to-day tasks are managed in order to support the long term plan or goals for the organization.
We need to always remember to try to see the forest (vision) despite being within the trees (day-to-day).
Maintain that 50,000-foot perspective so that adjustments to goals, strategy, and how employees are managed is clear – keeping in mind that the mundane grind of every day is simply steps toward achieving the big picture.
Help employees stay engaged and focused by helping them understand the priorities – and then get out of their way.
10 Things To Help Employees Get More Done
1. Write SMART Goals
The first step in getting things done is simply setting a goal to accomplish something.
Employees are the hands and feet and can get more done when they have the responsibility of achieving goals that are written to support departmental and ultimately organizational goals.
Every employee should have goals. Whether that goal is to improve the customer experience, improve internal processes or cost-cutting efforts – all employees should play a part.
Set SMART goals so the employee understands the goal, know how it will be measured, and a timeline for completion.
Goals are only as effective as your ability to accomplish them. Many use the SMART goal model to ensure they get those goals done. SMART is an acronym for a goal development process. Goals should be written in a way that these 5 questions can be answered:
Specific – Is the goal specific enough for clarity?
Measurable – Is there a way to measure the goal? In other words, how do you know you achieved the goal?
Attainable – Is the goal truly attainable? Or is it such an outlandish goal that it looks good on paper but is nearly impossible to complete.
Realistic – Did you write the goal realistically? For example, did you address all the challenges of completing the goal and provide the necessary resources?
Timely – Is there a timeline associated with the goal to ensure a completion date and is it the best time to be tackling this goal?
2. Assign Timeline and Accountability
We all have good intentions of getting things done, however, when the day-to-day grind intersects with organizational goals, the daily responsibilities typically take precedence.
Help employees understand who is responsible for doing what and include a completion timeline.
Do this by beginning with the end date and backtracking the calendar with smaller milestones for getting the job done.
3. Set Expectation for Completing Goals
Simply, have a conversation. There is often a disconnect between what a manager expects and what an employee thinks.
Schedule a specific time to meet with the employee, communicate your expectations, and give them the opportunity to ask questions or raise concerns about meeting those expectations.
This conversation will bring clarity and accountability to the expected timeline.
4. Update Employee Job Description
I’m always amazed at organizations that write job descriptions, file them in a drawer, and never look at them again.
Job descriptions should be updated at least annually and goal responsibilities should be included so that the employee understands what they are responsible for.
5. Monitor Employee Performance
Many of us are guilty of writing goals, setting dates for completion, and then never discussing them again.
Guess what, that sends an unintended message to the employee, that even though there are goals, they must not be important because the manager never talks about them.
Use your monthly meeting times with employees to discuss the status of completing goals and any barriers they are encountering in completing them.
6. Coach Employees
There are not many things more frustrating for a motivated employee trying to get something done than encountering barriers that are out of their control.
This is when you can support them by using your position to remove those barriers (other people, departments, funding) for getting it done.
Use this as a teachable moment and coach the employee on how to negotiate and collaborate with others to remove the barrier.
7. Keep a Log and Make Note
We are all busy and remembering who said what, when can be a challenge. Take the time to keep a log of conversations with employees.
Document date, time, and summary of the conversation. This can be a helpful tool when you do your annual performance appraisal.
Don’t forget to document those positive encounters.
No one wants to hear everything they did wrong at PA time so include those things that the employee did that met expectations and that you appreciated.
8. Assess Performance
There is a lot of chatter these days about the value of formal performance appraisals.
And while the methodology for this might be shifting, the conversations about getting things done, when expected will continue.
Be fair in your assessments by being aware of natural biases and use your notes and goals document as tools to help with your assessment.
9. Discuss Performance Appraisal With Employee
This can be one of the most uncomfortable conversations you have all year – unless you approach the process with accuracy and fairness.
Validate your conversations with your notes and allow the employee to respond, comment, and ask questions of clarity.
Use this conversation to identify development opportunities and career advancement observations.
Your goal as a manager should be to coach and develop employees for their next career move.
10. Celebrate and Reward Good Performance
When an employee does a good job there should be celebrations and rewards.
Merit increases should have a direct correlation to how well an employee is getting the job done.
These moments of acknowledging a job well done are critical to keeping employees engaged.
There is a common thread in sports in that when the athletes don’t perform well – they fire the coach.
The same should be true in business. Good performance often is the result of caring, attentive, and nurturing managers.
Take the time to set expectations, communicate often, and use your position to remove barriers to getting the job done and you will enjoy a workgroup that gets so much more than you would expect accomplished.