Good Employee Management Is About Managing Expectations

Posted on: October 20, 2020

Using clear communication and data to communicate with your team is critical.

In today’s tight labor market, maintaining a reliable core team is difficult. Finding a team of good employees is tough enough in the best of times; in distribution operations, it’s normal to have to cycle through six or more employees for one position.. Right now, that turnover number is closer to twelve for one position. Once you’ve made your hires, it can be daunting to effectively manage your team over time. How do you know who’s performing well, and who needs coaching? How do you help your struggling team members catch up to their peers? And most importantly, how do you retain your best team members, and help them succeed as new-hires? 

Hone Your Job Descriptions

Managing your team is really about managing expectations, and this starts in the hiring process. In the hiring process, you should make sure that the expectations for the job are crystal clear: the job description, its requirements, compensation structure, any rewards or bonuses systems, and any other relevant information should be front and center. You can’t reasonably expect to find valuable new employees if you aren’t clearly advertising what the position entails.

Training is a Win-Win for Manager and Employee

The next step is expanding on, and drilling deeper into, these expectations in the new hire orientation and training process. It’s not fair to explore and analyze an employee’s performance if the employee isn’t aware of their responsibilities and the standard operating procedures. Managing employees who weren’t given proper training and expectations is unfair to the manager and the employee–you’d be reviewing information without a common foundation. Clearly setting the stage for any employee is key to managing them later.

Coach and Praise To Nurture Growth

Now that you have a team and a common set of expectations, you have a foundation for growth. No team is perfect from day one; every team has to grow in experience and skill over time. A good manager or supervisor knows this and works with their members to achieve the best possible results. So how do those leaders do that? How do they nurture growth? How do they reach out to struggling members and get everyone on the same page? You use a combination of private coaching and public praise.

Data suggests that the most effective and impactful coaching is directed toward individuals or small teams of up to four people. The trainer (or manager, or supervisor) should make sure that they answer all of the team’s questions during the shadowing and training process. Confused employees make mistakes, which then have to be corrected, which then can lead to the employee leaving or being fired–which forces you to go through the tiresome hiring process all over again.

But how do you encourage long-term growth after the initial hiring and training processes?

Anecdotes Will Diminish Your Credibility – Data Will Enhance It 

It’s one thing to reward and praise a team for seeming to perform well, and it’s another thing entirely to praise and reward a team because the data proves they’re performing well. The former is based on hearsay and the eye test, the latter is based on scientifically gathered and synthesized evidence. If supervisors and team leaders have access to comprehensive breakdowns of each individual’s performance across their task list, then they’ll be able to praise exceptional employees and coach struggling ones with pinpoint precision.

Easy Metrics gives companies the ability to gather and synthesize data across their entire operation, then display them in a comprehensive series of reports that give perfect visibility into every aspect of their operation. For a supervisor or other leader, macro-level reports can highlight the overall efficiency of each team and team member. The more metrics you use to define the report’s conclusions, the more easily you’ll be able to detect successes and failures.

So what do you do with this data? How do you use this information to help struggling team members and develop a stable and reliable team?

Publicly Acknowledge Performance

There are many potential answers to this question, and these will be primarily determined by each company’s own HR department. We at Easy Metrics have noticed certain trends in our clients and partners over the years, and so we feel qualified to make a few recommendations. Firstly, publish performance on a weekly or monthly basis in an easily accessible location. Most people want to improve and do well in their jobs, and so public acknowledgment (and rewarding, but that’s another article) of successes is good for morale. Similarly, public awareness of low points in production or conduct can set the foundation for follow-up coaching.

Improve Through Individual Coaching

For individuals, more granular reports can be the key. It’s rare that an employee is bad at everything. An employee with low overall performance scores might excel at one or two specific tasks, while struggling with two or three others. The awareness of this specific data allows the trainer to coach the struggling employee on those problem areas, and index more heavily on where that employee is successful (within reason). We recommend that any such coaching be done in a comfortable place at a comfortable time, and that the trainer or supervisor approach the situation expecting the employee to want to improve. Assuming that every struggling employee is lazy and/or unwilling to grow is both irresponsible and damaging. Your goal is to nurture and train a team that will work with you for a long period of time–treat them as such.

We want to thank you for taking the time to read this article, and we hope you found it interesting and informative. Managing teams of any kind is a nuanced and difficult task. We understand and respect that–that’s why we put so much effort into making Easy Metrics easy-to-use, detailed, and robust enough to help you drill deep into the details of your operation. We want to give you the guidance for building a team, and access to the data you need to nurture it.

If you want to learn more about how Easy Metrics helps you coach, praise, and retain your best people, you can read our blog or sign up for a demo! We look forward to working with you so you can manage your operations team expertly. Let us help you with the data and tools you need to meet your hiring, retention, and productivity goals.

Written by Karl Koehler, VP Customer Success of Easy Metrics.

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