It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.
~ John Wooden
All kinds of technology are being introduced at a rapid pace in order to solve the burning problems of performance management. While all this is good progress, why is top management still unable to crack an effective answer?
Is it possible that we have moved way ahead in terms of finding a solution and forgotten about the most basic aspects that drive effective performance? Let us take a step back from the confusion and analyze this.
What drives performance on a very fundamental level? There is not a single answer to this. Various factors come into the picture such as love for the work, motivation to do well, believing in the cause, respecting mentors, wanting to make a difference, etc. If you notice, all these aspects are psychological. A compulsion to work for the wrong reasons cannot drive effective performance.
In this blog, I want to highlight the little things that companies are doing wrong, that are hampering the performance of employees to a large extent. Unfortunately, these little things often go ignored or get lost in the system of a larger scheme of things.
1. Distracting workspaces
Recent years have seen the explosion of the concept of open office spaces, where everyone sits together in a large work area, across teams and disciplines. This idea got wide acceptance as CEO’s portrayed it as anti-hierarchy and a system where open communication is encouraged. However, it also lies on the assumption that all employees are comfortable working as well as speaking about their anxieties or personal problems in a space where everyone can see them. This hip environment bustling with headphones, communication, and collaboration is also the loudest, annoying and distracting place one could work at.
80% of high-performance employees are interrupted 5 or more times a day by things like unplanned meetings, being drawn to other conversations from co-workers and so on – with a staggering 40% interrupted more than 8 times each day!
High performance employees do not prefer working in such distracting and unproductive environments. It is a known fact that getting down to finishing work in one go requires a great deal of focus. But how does one stay focused when every other person has his phone buzzing around or is conversing openly?
A latest anonymous survey with 4000 respondents across industries proved this with its findings. 58% of high performing employees expressed the need for more private spaces for problem solving. In the same study, 62% of employees reported that they find their office environment “too distracting.”
It has been assumed that social collaboration and open communication will, in turn, lead to more innovation at work. However, employees do not like so much chaos and it is killing productivity among employees. Poor employee productivity, in turn, hurts the product quality, which affects businesses directly. This shouts out the fact that companies need to stop assuming what their employees want and listen to them.
2. Bad management brings bad news
There is a direct link between employee productivity and the quality of the management. Even though this has been highlighted many times, it still remains a huge problem in organizations. A bad relationship with the manager can single-handedly bring down employee morale in disastrous ways.
As per Gallup’s State of the American Manager report in 2015, 50% of the professionals who responded said that they’d quit a job to “get away from their boss” at some point in their career.
Managers might be hurting the performance of employees and their motivation levels. Bad managers can make employees feel miserable at work, which follows employees everywhere, and affects their overall well-being. If your top employees are leaving, you need to analyze what is wrong. Overworking employees, making promises and not living up to them, lack of transparent communication, zero recognition, unwillingness to help employees learn and grow are just some of the many problems with bad managers.
As per an Officevibe poll, 31% of employees said they wished their manager communicated more frequently with them. And 63% felt that they didn’t get enough praise.
Effective communication and recognition remain the most important drivers of positive employee performance. Leaders need to identify how managers are performing and taking direct feedback from employees about their managers. Regular anonymous surveys are a must in order to make employees express their concerns honestly without coming under any kind of pressure.
At the same time, managers should also be encouraged and trained to host open discussions with their teams on a regular basis. For employees to remain productive and deliver their best performance, a respectful and trustworthy relationship with their managers is a must. And it goes both ways. “Managing” needs to be replaced with “coaching” to activate superior performance among engaged employees.
3. Employees want to learn, give them that
Professional development holds a lot of significance to the lives of employees today. They are continuously on the lookout for bettering and refining their skills so that they can establish their mastery over a certain area. But how often are companies helping employees truly grow?
According to a survey of over 3000 respondents, 76% of high-performance employees said that trade mastery is more important than money when considering career decisions.
Money is an important driver for performance and growth, but just money isn’t enough. Employees are looking for professional growth within the company which is possible through learning and personalized training opportunities. Employees are willing to leave if they don’t see themselves growing.
Only 28% of millennials feel that their current organizations are making full use of the skills they currently have to offer.
~ Deloitte Millennial Survey, 2016
Employees need to be viewed as customers who long for satisfaction and need to be continuously engaged through various ways to make them a regular. Organizations need to focus deeply on career growth, build and measure the effectiveness of learning, along with mentoring programs. A culture of continuous learning can foster an environment for better performance.
It is important to understand employees and their dedication to their skills, and encourage ways that they can help improve overall productivity levels. Listening to employees is key here before designing environments and processes for them. Such practices can help companies maximize employee efficiency, retention, productivity, morale and engagement. This will lead to great products, happy people and promote a culture of sustained innovation.
Let’s not ignore the little things.