Two of the biggest problems that employers have with managing employees are 1) reviewing employees’ work and coaching them toward performing at the desired level, and 2) keeping track of what you have delegated to them and having them work on what needs to be worked on now.
Most business owners hire an employee, throw them into the job, and then manage by exception. In other words, they wait for employees to make mistakes and then jump in and say “Aha!” Think about this. The normal method means that the manager is only interacting with employees when they get stuck or make a mistake. There is little or no coaching, and the employee dreads seeing the boss.
Don’t even start me on annual reviews! These are often misused. In the best case, they don’t work because there is such a time delay between the performance and feedback. In the worst case, they create a tremendous amount of bad feelings.
If the business owner doesn’t guide employees to work on what matters to the business owner, the employees start to do what they think is important or what they know how to do. This is usually not what the business owner wants.
A better way is to meet with your key managers (and have your managers meet with their staff) weekly. During this meeting you will:
- Create a list of tasks broken down into each of the major job categories. Having the major job categories is an important tool to remind the employee weekly what their main job responsibilities are.
- The first time:
- Schedule a time and ask the employee to bring you a list of items they are working on.
- In the first meeting with the employee, explain what you are doing and what process you will be following. This sends a signal to the employee that, from now on, you will be meeting with them weekly to see what they have accomplished. This by itself gets more things done. Plus, when the employee has access to the boss, they are much happier. You want to educate and develop a team feeling based on working together to meet customers’ needs.
- Fill out the form together, adding all of the items that you have for them and items that they have brought in.
- Decide what is to be completed in the next week. Number the tasks in the order you and the employee agree on. This is an excellent time to explain why something is needed and ensure that the employee understands.
- Agree on how long the project should take. This gives the employee an idea of how long you think it should take. Let them tell you how long they think the project will take. Often they will agree to a time shorter than you expect. If they say it will take longer than your estimate, this is a great time to ask why. There may be something you had not thought of, or they may not understand what you want.
- I sometimes have long or complicated projects for employees to do, such as opening a new store, launching a new marketing campaign, or designing a website. I will give the project its own section and list as many steps as I can think of at this time. I will then give the total project an estimated completion date and note what steps I expect to see completed this week.
- On the next week and every week there after I will:
- Schedule the meeting. Try to keep it on the same day, but be flexible as needed.
- Ask them to bring last week’s list and any new projects they are working on.
- See what they have completed and scratch it off the list. Find out what problems they had. Give feedback and coaching as needed. This should happen weekly rather than only once or twice a year.
- Add new projects.
- Prioritize the coming week’s work on the list.
- Be sure the employee agrees. Once they do, they will work hard not to miss a deadline.
- Finally, bring up any items that you observed that need to be fixed. This can be anything, such as being late or excessive personal calls. This is very effective because there is a very short time frame between the event and when you speak to them about it. But do not use this meeting for a formal reprimand. That should be handled in a separate meeting. An example is to say something like, “I noticed you were late last Friday. Anything important come up?” This lets them know that you noticed and often you won’t have to say anything else.
- Repeat weekly.