These Employees Just Aren’t Working Out

Do you have people leaving (or you want them to) and you don’t understand why? Maybe you think you’ve just gotten the wrong people. That could be true; but chances are better that there is a misalignment somewhere; something you can adjust with a bit of strategic focus.

Let’s start with some surprising research on employee motivation. The first surprise is that there are five processes that impact employee motivation more strongly than leadership; though leadership affects all of these processes. *

These top five processes are:

Role Design

A badly designed role can leave employees bored, disinterested, or as we say, “retired in place”; (just going through the motions). I am now challenging managers to look at role redesign for any position that is tough to fill. I think there are many lost opportunities to create role enhancements that are less expensive than turnover. Even in retail and other positions that require employees to be physically present, roles can be enhanced to improve employee motivation. I have redesigned roles in even the smallest companies.

Organizational Identity

The mission and purpose of the organization are increasingly a chief consideration when people are seeking and selecting an employer. In this fully staffed labor market, good talent wants to work for companies they believe in; who share their ethics and purpose. It’s important to let employees see the eventual outcomes of their work and the companies impact on customers, communities, and society.

Career Ladders

Most people, and certainly the best people, want to move up and expand both their abilities and their opportunities. Career ladders can be designed in even the smallest companies (I’ve designed them with as little as 6 people), and all employees should have clear development plans so they can see how increasing their contribution to business success will help them as well. Yes, I said all!


Research has long been telling us that people want to work where they have friends; enjoy being around others and feel a part of something. There are dozens of no-cost or lowcost ways of creating community. It’s about focusing people on a common goal or interest.

Workforce and Resource Planning

For employees this shows up partially as a sense that resources are spent and allocated on the right things; things that make a difference for customers and employees. Fairness counts. Also, how people are treated counts a great deal.

For the Record

Compensation was seventh in the order of processes affecting employee motivation (after the above 5 and leadership which was number 6). Yes, compensation counts but other things count more. Even small businesses can fine tune these processes making their employment more desirable.

Other research has shown that these same top five processes are serious considerations for millennials who care deeply about the mission and purpose of the organization and the way they are treated and who will avoid positions that do not fit their personal values or standards. I believe role design is a key element to attracting and retaining millennials and top talent of all generations. Leaders and managers should look at these processes as business systems that must adapt to changing times and conditions. Otherwise they may not be able to compete for good talent.

Your Action Plan:

If you are a business manager or leader of people and are interested in improving employee performance or retaining your best people, you’ll want to pay attention to the results of this study.

  1. Ask employees about their satisfaction with their role on the job. Here are some ways to ask:
  • How well do you think your skills are being used in your current role?
    (Look for underutilized skills).
  • Are there any aspects of your role that are frustrating to you?
  • Are there any aspects of your role that are boring or too easy for you?
  • Are there any ways you’d like to see your role or job tasks change?

       2. Find out what employees would love to do, learn, or tackle:

  • Given a chance to work on any special project what would be of most interest to you?
  • When you think about your career; what is most exciting to you?
  • What is most important to you in your life?
  • Do you have any personal goals?

      3. What do you like best about this company or our work?

  • What would make you proud to work here?
  • Understanding that I can’t implement every suggestion, what would you suggest to serve customers better?

Bottom Line:

There are a lot of things leaders can do to improve employee motivation and performance which translates into better customer results. Business owners, leaders and managers can use recent research to improve the processes that most impact employee motivation.

If you want to discover how to improve your processes to motivate and retain the best talent call me. The first consultation is complimentary. If you have employees; they are key to your growth. You may be able to redesign your processes to give you better results and more time and freedom; even if you don’t think you can.

*Lindsay McGregor and Neel Doshi; authors of Primed to Perform talk about how to build the highest Performing Cultures Through the Science of Total Motivation.

About Judi Pine-Sellers

Judi Pine-Sellers is a small business consultant specializing in employee productivity. She has designed dozens of management and employee programs used world-wide. Judi is an expert in all phases of managing employee performance; selection; orientation; training; correcting performance problems; career development; and succession planning. She holds a Master’s Degree in Instructional Design as well as advanced certificates from Thunderbird School for International Management and the University of Michigan, Executive Education Business School.

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Contact Judi Now to schedule a complimentary consultation!

©2018 Judi Pine-Sellers

These Employees Just Aren’t Working Out

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