Posts Tagged 'employees'

Marathon Thinking Develops People

I don’t know about you, but if I had $10 for each time I’ve heard “nobody wants to work anymore” or “there just aren’t any good people in this business anymore,” I’d be rich.

Let’s set the record straight. First, neither statement is true! There are hard workers out there and there are lots of good people. The negative perception about workers is driven by two main factors: first, in today’s Green Industry, we tend to ask more of our people than in the past. Second, we fail to adequately prepare our people to multi-task at desired levels.

Why has this happened? The basic cause is that we have been forced to stretch as never before to make a decent profit.

Costs are higher; profits are shrinking. How does one recoup the deteriorating bottom line? Simple: Get more for each labor dollar.

The thought process has gone like this: “Gee, I can’t make a bag of fertilizer go any farther, and I can’t get nursery stock any cheaper. My fuel costs are stable now, but still way up and equipment costs are still growing. But labor, my people — that’s got to be the answer. No, I can’t lower their pay, but I can increase my expectations, set goals higher and get more out of them.”

It has happened gradually, sort of a creeping escalation of goals and added activities. At first, we told ourselves that if we eased it on them — the higher goals, the more and different tasks — people might grumble. But since they don’t want to lose their jobs, they’d adapt.

For a while that strategy seemed to work. But there is a breaking point beyond which people just won’t go. In many companies, that point was reached and surpassed years ago. The result was predictable: higher turnover and, as word spread about the changing work environment, inability to recruit effectively. Over time, many of our best players left the industry. Hence, “there just aren’t any good people anymore.”

The question to be answered is this: How do we rebuild quality teams, filling chairs with motivated, productive workers at all levels — management included?

I believe in people-centered “Marathon Thinking.” The strategy is to build a true people culture in the business. The focus is on developing the people who deliver our services consistently, not on maximizing short term productivity. The term Marathon Thinking refers to a mind set and development process that begins with well-planned recruiting and training, goals based on individual skills and daily management aimed at achieving small, reachable daily goals followed by consistent recognition. It’s a matter of behavioral conditioning — and it works! You develop people, not in a week or two but over time, one controlled step at a time.

Sign up for the marathon
The premise is that a person who wants the job and understands how to perform tasks successfully, in a supportive world where recognition and appreciation are ongoing, will succeed. That early success will drive the motivation, then to do even more and better work.

Below are plan requirements that will allow you to win with your employees using this strategy:

  • Commit to re-focusing your business model on achieving goals through people. People must become your key resource and drive results. Without this commitment, you’ll waste your time.
  • Plan human requirements farther ahead. Evaluate current staff twice annually and be ready to upgrade in the fall, before winter hiring. Do not keep non-performers or negative people.
  • Establish an effective recruiting plan that communicates the good things about your business. Over time, build your company reputation locally by participating and supporting local events and letting people know your jobs are good jobs.
  • Build your training program to focus on just what the employee needs to know first. Do not try to teach more than the new hire can learn easily. Appoint a trainer who wants the job.
  • Follow initial training with repetitive on-the-job coaching, enhancing gradual learning.
  • Recognize and reward consistently.

For more information, contact me at hoopes@columbus.rr.com.

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Where Did All The Good Workers Go?

 

An article explaining how anyone can build a powerhouse team.

 

Author – Bill Hoopes, Trainer and Organizational Effectiveness Expert

 

            Time and experience have taught me a lot about solving tough people problems. I don’t have all the answers.  I do know that no single formula works consistently in all situations.  And I have had some experiences (successful and unsuccessful) that have led me to conclude there are specific, positive things that you can do to make success through people possible, or even probable. While I cannot guarantee solutions in every situation, I can guarantee improvement.  If that sounds fair—read on.

 

Woody & Bear speak out from the grave –

 

            I’ll admit it, there may have been times when building a team of strong, loyal and consistently productive people seemed fairly simple…I just can’t remember any!  As an Ohio State Buckeye fan, I recall the way Woody Hayes put it: “You win with people.”  For him, it was that simple.  Find the right people, teach them what they need to know, hold out a ”carrot” like a Rose Bowl trip and get out of the way.  Paul “Bear” Bryant, legendary coach at the University of Alabama, felt the same: “Find some talent, show them how to make the first touchdown, and back off—the rest is simple.”   But that’s ancient history, right?

            Is it really the same for us today, in business?  As a manager and management trainer for many years, I’ve come to realize that, while Woody’s and Bear’s level of competition was higher and more intense, and while winning or losing was determined in an afternoon, the principal determinants of success in sports apply equally to other endeavors, like business.

            But what is it specifically that leads to success?  Let‘s look closer. We’ve told ourselves for years that winning with people means simply finding the “right” people, training them to proficiency and direct their daily efforts.  And, sure, we must provide consistent encouragement and positive feedback.  The icing on the cake is the incentive to work. Something like a pot of gold [motivator] is placed at the end of the rainbow (task completion deadline), and miraculous things happen — sometimes. 

Is it that simple? Do we clearly understand why, then, more managers, leaders and coaches don’t win consistently?  Conversely, do we know why some teams just can’t lose — even in the face of tough competition?  Is the answer really just “great talent?”  Ask George Steinbrenner if buying great players is enough to win.  The answer is NO. Great players, like great employees, make it easier.  But in today’s workplace, staffing with 100% champs isn’t realistic.

 

How we can win:  Winning through people requires a clear, two-part, approach.  We must:

            * First, expand your ability to discover and attract the best of the labor pool. This is NOT a dream! I’ve done it and helped others recruit winners. Job one is building a core of essential team skills.

            * Next, make each work day a more positive and productive experience for our “starters” and “bench warmers” alike. This takes focus and coaching skill. And everyone reading this article IS capable of coaching successfully!

 

Keep this in mind; no team ever won all the marbles with “stars” alone. It’s the competent, supporting bull pen that usually makes the difference.  And it is from that second level that you must find and develop the next generation of leaders.

            You must work both sides of the street simultaneously. First, don’t let up in your recruiting efforts to upgrade where necessary, replacing losers, while, at the same time, giving focused consistent attention to those currently on staff.  Both are critical parts of an effective people plan.

           

Having said all that, I concede that the commonly accepted reason for failing with people remains, “Just aren’t enough good people these days.”  The implication is: Good people (the kind we want and need to win) were there, but no more. Evidently, we must conclude, the “good people” have vanished from the scene. They are gone!  I hear it daily. And to complicate things, we’ve talked ourselves into believing that we cannot win the game or reach our objectives with anything less than perfect employees. That’s silly. 

 

Smart leaders succeed all the time with less talent and the right attitude.  Get that? Attitude. I can teach an average person to excel IF the positive attitude is there and is genuine.

 

If you accept my premise, perhaps you’ll trade in today’s pessimism for a shot at my experience-based optimism.

 

For now, consider what I call the “Magnificent Seven”:

 

7 Ways to Build a Powerhouse Organization

 

These basic requirements can make your job as manager, leader or owner much easier:

 

1. Create a clear definition of your business identity, goals and values.

2. Develop a practical philosophy of leadership [how you’ll interact with the troops].

3. Study yourself, your past influences, how you came to form your attitudes about people and work. Fine-tune, identify the “leadership style” that will work best for you. [one on one situations, team meetings, honesty, involvement, info sharing, setting a positive leadership example. Where do you fit, your preferences…there is NO one best “style”.]

4. Commit yourself to balancing people/task relationships. [Most are task oriented]

5. Develop a comprehensive human resource strategy. [A culture that promotes the advancement of your team members…who, in turn will build your business.]

6. Make an accurate assessment of the positive and negative elements of your employees’ working environment today.

7. Use your management power sources intelligently. [Hint, your personality is your strongest source of power….so, don’t fear human interaction, learn to use it!]

 

Obviously, each of the seven steps above can be a project in and of itself.  I’ve spent nearly a quarter century helping managers win with people. If you need help, let me know