The first few months of an employee joining your company are essential. It’s the difference between a 5-year career and a 5-month stepping-stone. Here, you teach them your values. You set the standard of communication. You get to know their personality and their skill set, and you help them feel confident enough to open up.
But not every business does this successfully.
The sad story of a wasted employee
Sometimes, leaders lead them into an environment where they’re doing data entry daily, repetitive tasks, and working outside the team and in isolation.
What could have been an A player has been reduced to the gloomy corner of autonomous tasks…mindlessly tapping away at their keyboard, as slow as a Zombie, with a permanent raincloud above them, the soundtrack called ‘songs with the word hurt in the title’ playing on repeat.
- Everybody Hurts by R.E.M
- Hurt by Johnny Cash
- Hurt by Elvis Presley
You get the gist…
They’ll get used to this…fed up with this…and will stop caring. They’ll stop caring about their role, their relationship with you, and your business. The disconnect will grow, and it will become increasingly frustrating.
The harshness begins now
You might even blame the lack of effort on them. You think you hired the wrong person, they’re lazy, and you assume they’re not worth keeping around.
But really, it’s your fault.
You need to look in the mirror, and you need to ask yourselves these questions so that you can come up with a brand new solution to fix this.
“Am I communicating with them correctly?”
You should speak with your team daily, even if it’s just to check in on how they’re doing (p.s. you don’t always have to check in with what they’re doing). Make a conscious effort to tell them when they’ve done an excellent job. Recognise their good doings, and don’t just bring up their mistakes.
If they’re making many mistakes, look at the roadblocks in their way and try to take them away. Instead of assuming that they can’t ever do the work, find out why they’re unable to do it right now. There could be personal issues or extenuating circumstances, or they might genuinely hate the task and struggle to complete it.
There is a reason for everything. And nine times out of ten, simply communicating with your staff is the “quick hack” all leaders are looking for.
“Do they know the vision of the company?”
What’s the point of driving somewhere if you have no idea of the destination?
Your employees have to be told about the vision. Don’t just send them off with an eighteen-page document, front and back, and expect them not to fall asleep.
Your employees have to believe in what they’re hearing. They can’t just know the vision, and the vision should excite them, motivate them and drive them.
There’s no better way to do this than it coming from you directly. You started this business, and you have the vision, after all, so there’s no one on earth that believes in it more than you. Which means no one can sell it more than you can.
Sometimes, an employee not knowing where the company is headed, its values, and its future, will make them care less about their role.
They need to understand that every job they do leads them to that vision; they’re helping the company get there. This will increase motivation, employee satisfaction, and confidence.
“Have I mentored them, or are there people in the company that can?”
A mentor is essentially taking somebody under your wing, and you’ll have a more experienced employee mentoring a newbie. This doesn’t mean you get to pick and choose whom to mentor, as playing favourites never goes down well; it means you mentor every single new starter.
Find out their likes, and then test it. Employees often realise later down the line that their strengths are different from what they expected. Testing them in various roles and departments from the get-go can help the employee find their passion and will also help the business get the right person for the role faster than most.
This is super important. Mentoring your staff shows them they’re worth the time, money, and effort that goes into teaching someone to progress. It increases employee loyalty, diversification, employee self-confidence, job fulfilment, and many more benefits.
“Do I motivate my team?”
Motivate your team by having regular team meetings, talking about what’s gone well in the company, what hasn’t, and how you can improve as a team to better that.
When you bring up the negatives, take some of the blame, so it doesn’t feel like you’re singling anyone out. Be transparent, available, and approachable.
Another way of improving motivation is by keeping your A players separate, and letting your A player work together with a D player will demotivate them. It might sound harsh to grade your employees like this, but honestly, you will naturally have players with stronger skill sets.
Usually, the D team player will slow down the A team player, distract them, and maybe even cause their work to suffer entirely. This isn’t me saying you should fire your D player. But keep the D player working with people on their level or their mentor.
“Do I always talk about the sh*t that goes wrong rather than the stuff that goes right?”
When you’re seen typing in the work group chat, does your staff hear the Jaws theme tune?
If that’s the case, you’re probably the villain in their story. And what I mean by this is you’re the bearer of bad news; when you come around, nothing good happens. This attitude has to change! We’re not in school anymore. We may have feared our head teachers, but we shouldn’t fear our boss.
We’ve spoken about this a bit already. And look, it can be TOUGH to talk about the good stuff if you’re constantly frustrated. But if that’s the case, then that’s something you have to work on.
Because there’s always something to be thankful for and happy about. So whatever it is, tell the team. Thank the team. Doing this will motivate your team as well. Being appreciated is the biggest motivating factor.
Remember, leaders, always tell your staff when they’ve done something right, no matter how small. It will have a big effect on your employee.
If told by your boss that a piece of work you did was excellent, you’ll feel 10x more confident to complete more work with a great attitude.
Each employee is different, so make sure to test this out and see what works with different employees.
- One might prefer getting thanked in public.
- One might prefer being thanked in private.
- One might prefer being thanked over a message.
- One might like being thanked over your company’s socials.
Do this every day, with every employee.
Ditch the permanent rainclouds, statuesque faces and robotic keyboard tapping. These subtle but compelling changes make your day a little less grey.