Are you sending your staff mixed signals?
Employees often times take direction from their boss, then their boss’ boss comes along and gives them conflicting information. We see that often when managers are motivated by specific directives that benefit them personally. Then upper management comes along and they are incentivized by a different motive and give conflicting information to the employees. If employees are paid through commissions, incentives or bonuses, that adds a layer of complexity to the mix.
What’s an employee to do? Some will follow whatever is easiest for them, others will favor their manager and others will ignore all of it and do as they please. So how do we fix this?
Goals and objectives need to be consistent throughout the company or business unit (aka branch, location, cost center, etc.). The key to keeping them consistent is through communication all across the unit and agreement to one common set of goals (not too many please). Upper and middle managers must communicate constantly about the initiatives, the actions and the progress that are being made along those lines. Concurrence with the objectives is imperative for the end result. One person in the chain that doesn’t believe in the objective can domino down to the staff and the end result is not accomplished.
I remember a client that sent mixed signals about their objectives without quantifying what they wanted to achieve. Their goals were to “be profitable” and to “increase their exposure in the marketplace”. They had established some action plans for getting there but no measurable goal, nor any progress markers along the way. Translated that means we want to turn a profit, but how much? And, we want to increase our market share, but to what and from what? This left the employees believing that it was not possible to do both and they could choose one. And they did. Most wanted to be profitable in the belief that this would keep them employed. They thought market presence was too vague a goal and that wouldn’t put money in their pockets.
Be clear about what your company objectives are. State them in hard numbers and post them where employees can see them. Measure them regularly and track your progress. Give explanations of what the goals can do for the company in the long term. E.G., market share increase can increase the company’s volume of business thereby providing a greater pool of a bottom line. Answer their questions with respect and make them feel part of the process.
The end result will be a team that works together to achieve the goal the company has set forth.