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Six ways to turn your employees into high performers

A business cannot afford to have employees who are slack and/or produce substandard work. This is, however, an ongoing problem that even established businesses face. Therefore, it becomes necessary to motivate and encourage employees to constantly put their best foot forward. Listed below are six ways to help drive this:

Induce positive stress
An article on Entrepreneur by Tracy Maylett, CEO of management consulting firm Decision Wise, propagates inducing positive stress. She calls it ‘eustress’ and it can for instance induce release of adrenaline and increased blood flow, prompting positive and adequate action. A manager can activate it by upholding higher standards for staff, and requiring more from them, while providing the necessary support to get there. Naturally, it is important to know just how much stress to apply as too much of ‘positive stress’ can become counterproductive, if not well-managed.

Use ‘positive framing’
He also emphasises appropriately visualising or presenting a challenge which he calls ‘positive framing.’ A manager who is helping shape the way employees view a challenge could be the difference between a perceived insurmountable task versus an exciting chance to do something new and stimulating. The key to framing a new challenge in a positive light is to be genuine about your intention and objectives relating to the exercise. Untruths and manipulation, merely to get more results, will ultimately be more damaging since the trust will be broken with staff.

Break down the barriers
Amber Avines on Spinsucks says that breaking down the barriers is important. Employees work their best and care the most when the people at management level remember and recognise the workforce as individual contributors. Making sure that upper management is accessible, visible, and approachable will result in people going the extra mile for a company that embraces them as a valuable part of the team. Therefore, mutual respect is necessary to develop healthy relationships moving forward.

Set and agree upon non-arbitrary goals
The goals should be clear and challenging, call for commitment, have a procedure for feedback and involve task complexity. Tracey Maylett says that due to the modern need for, ‘immediate gratification, rewards and affirmation, some employees have forgotten (or never learned) what it means to reach a significant milestone.’ Therefore, it is wise to aid them in feeling the pleasure of accomplishing something ‘that comes with setting and achieving a meaningful goal.’

Celebrate improvements
In an article on Success Karin Hurt encourages celebrating incremental improvements. She describes them as confidence bursts and compares them to ‘running or training bursts, followed by a period of active recovery.’ This can build confidence and capabilities of the team by training them in intervals. The major advantage is that it constantly pushes the limits and stretches staff competence levels, leading to recognisable growth.

Create an environment where ‘failing forward’ is acceptable and does not entail reprimand
When employees lack confidence, even trivial mistakes will affirm their feelings of inadequacy. Failing forward is the habit of teaching important lessons and fostering innovation through attempting something and possibly failing. The idea is to encourage initiative and resourcefulness through ‘a willingness to try’ and so become a good problem-solver.

Evidently, it is important to believe in and support employees. While it can be a tough challenge empowering the people who look after your assets and attend to your clients, there are no doubt effective ways of boosting morale and performance levels. Take the lead with these six pointers, to help develop a cohesive and highly motivated team.

Proudly brought to you the National Small Business Chamber (NSBC).