One common discussion that has gone on in Nigeria for years is how the poor quality of Nigerian graduates results in poor employees, causing employers a lot of frustrations. Organizations large enough are able to retrain their staff, while smaller ones make do with what they have, accompanied with
However, I have observed and experienced, in my time working for and with people and organizations on projects, that many a times, the problem is not with the employees, but with their employers, particularly as it relates to small and medium-sized organizations.
While I am no HR professional, one thing I know for sure is that takes way more than a salary to keep staff motivated. This is contrary to the way many employers think and behave: “I pay your salary, you should be happy, especially considering the number of unemployed people out there.”
Nothing could be farther away from the truth than this.
I find it useful to share a few tips on how employers can get the most out of their employees, improve their performance, devotion and loyalty to the organization:
- Do your employees know your vision for the company? The general assumption is that all employees care about is financial benefits in the form of salaries and allowances. However, it is also important to get your employees to key into the big-picture vision you have for your business. As human beings, we like to be part of something great, something bigger than us. It is the reason we see some people passionately defend and advocate for organizations that they are part of.
If you have a long-term vision for your business, share the vision with your employees. Let it not just be you want them to be salesmen in your bookshop; explain them to your vision of making the bookshop the biggest repository of books and intellectual material in the area.
- Are you honest about the situation of the business at all times? There are always times when a business finds itself in a difficult situation, especially when it is a small and medium-scale business. Cash crunches and periods of poor sales are not unheard of. This could cause salaries to be withheld or slashed for a while.
It is very important that your employees know the true situation that the business is in at that point. Keeping them in the dark about the state of finances of the company while they are seeing their own salaries frozen or reduced creates room for a lot of suspicion. As they say, in the absence of information, negativity abounds.
- Do you humanize your employees? Too many times, I have seen where bosses think that the best way to keep their employees in check is to always harangue them, talk them down, criticize every effort of theirs. However, when these employees do well, they hardly get commended. After all, it is their job, so the employer thinks. The effect of such behavior is that it leaves the employee demoralized and lacking in confidence. The employees walk on egg shells around the boss, or hold their breaths in oga or madam’s presence, all because they do not want to incur his/her wrath.
It is very important you treat your employees nicely. Take an interest in their affairs beyond work. Commend them when they do well, especially when they go the extra mile. Keeping your employees happy is keeping them motivated.
- Do you create an avenue of creativity and problem-solving for them? Inherent in every human being is the power of creativity. However, it has to be nurtured, developed and encouraged before the individual is able to unleash it. Most times, people refuse to be creative because they are scared of failure, rebuke and embarrassment.
Lot of times, the problems that businesses deal with can be solved by the employees if only they will get the necessary encouragement and prodding from management. Sadly, too many employers prefer their employees to act like robots, only carrying out instructions and never bringing ideas on how to solve problems or make things work better. Understand that as the boss, you are not the sole repository of knowledge in the business. Give them room to try, and fail. Encourage them to put their smarts to use and what they can do will astonish you.
- Do you have clear rules, guidelines and policies in the workplace that your employees know and understand? There is no doubt that in every human relationship, there will always be sort of friction at some point. An employer-employee relationship is no exception. However, one way to reduce these incidences are to have clear, preferably written rules, guidelines and policies for the workplace.
“How are they expected to relate to customers? How are they supposed to dress? What time should they resume work? Is it a rule that they never discuss who your clients are?” Having these clearly stated makes them know that you are not making up rules and policies on the go. It shows them lines not to cross and what is acceptable and not.
Besides that, it is important not to show favoritism to one employee or set of employees over the others. Of course, this goes without saying.
Also, when an employee makes a mistake, do not correct him/her in a manner as to embarrass him. Correct him in private. However, when they break cardinal rules in the organization, such as engaging in fraud, punishing them publicly actually shows his/her colleagues an example of how such behavior will be dealt with.
At least, this bit I will always remember from legendary former CEO of General Electric, Jack Welch in his book, Winning.
These are just a few of the ideas that can be used to increase employee morale and performance, particularly in small and medium-scale businesses.
Please, if you have any you would like to add, drop them in the comments section.