Sponsored by Lane Powell

How to get more from a staff member

| Print |  Email
Business tips
Friday, July 26, 2013

BY TOM COX | BUSINESS TIPS CONTRIBUTOR

07.26.13 Blog Staff

Whether you’re a CEO or a front line manager, you should always be trying to get more out of the people who report to you.

(As a worker, you should always be looking for ways to contribute more and increase your efficiency and effectiveness. And you should encourage your boss to push you.)

No, not burn anyone out — you should be seeking to grow capabilities.

The Uncomfortable Push

Humans aren’t insects. We’re not born as soldier ants or worker ants, with a role programmed into us. If we’re going to get good at something, it’ll be because several things happened — we had some innate ability, we had an external opportunity– and often, something or someone pushed us (or “gave us permission”).

As a manager you can get more, not merely by demanding more, but by growing people’s capabilities. Sometimes that means pushing them to do more, faster. Other times it means getting them to stop doing things, that they should either delegate or simply discontinue. And other times it involves you helping them grow their skills.

In all cases, you are responsible for the productivity of each person who reports to you.

And just as you have to communicate with each of your direct reports differently depending on their style and personality, and just as you motivate each one differently based on their unique goals and skills and drives, so too you need to boost productivity differently for each one.

Here are some steps that will work for a majority of your folks. (Many of these tips are inspired by Peter F. Drucker, and others by the excellent web site www.manager-tools.com.)

Abilities and Interests

In order to push the right piece of extra “stretch” work to the right person, you need to know each person’s abilities and interests.

You think you do — but you don’t.

Bosses always tell me “I know what my each of my people is good at. I know their abilities.” Then we hold an ice breaker activity where we take turns revealing positive personal things that other people present don’t know about us. Inevitably, 80% of staff reveal significant abilities of which their boss was completely unaware.

(Bosses: stop over-estimating what you know. It’s safer to assume every one of your people has a strength and an interest of which you are completely unaware.)

The reliable way to get to know your people’s abilities and interests, is to have weekly 1:1 meetings with them, and to work with each of them on a career plan.

Motives

What motivates each worker? What’s their career aspiration? What do they find fulfilling?

You can find this out by listening closely during your 1:1s with each person. You can also fall back on some basic things that tend to motivate all humans.

As a bonus, give your people this multiple choice quiz and write down the answer in their file — it tells you what types of extrinsic rewards appeal to them.

Which would you prefer? Please rank these by what you’d enjoy, from most to least:

  • Gifts: a gift basket, framed photo, or plaque
  • Service: the Big Boss brings you coffee at your desk for a week
  • Words: a letter or poem of appreciation
  • Touch: a hug or handshake from the Big Boss
  • Quality Time: lunch or a walk with the Big Boss

You also need to know if they prefer rewards to be given in public or private. This matters more than you might think. A Walt Disney HR honcho admits that he “rewarded” a deeply introverted employee for 30 years of work with no sick days, by dragging her on stage for an award. The next day she called in sick — to prevent that from happening again.

Creating Opportunities

Every time you get more work as a boss, it’s an opportunity to find something to delegate. Even if you haven’t been hit with more work, you can still choose to delegate something that’s on your plate, that would be in the “abilities and interests” sweet spot of one of your direct reports. Do it.

Pushing, not Scaring

When you push people out of their comfort zone, some of them will push back, resisting the growth opportunity.

That’s okay. Acknowledge that they may feel uncomfortable, express your confidence, and remind them they won’t be perfect: ”I don’t mind if you make some errors — I simply want you to stretch yourself. You’re stronger than you realize.”

You only need to be wary of pushing someone SO far out of their comfort zone that they actually feel afraid — fear is qualitatively different from mere discomfort. Don’t terrify people. If you can’t tell which one they’re feeling, don’t do it — and get back to doing 1:1s so you re-learn how to read their emotions.

Nothing boosts loyalty like a boss who has faith in you and also pushes you to grow.

You can be that boss.

Tom Cox is a Beaverton consultant, author and speaker. He coaches CEOs on how to boost performance by building workplace trust.

 

More Articles

All Rise

March 2015
Friday, February 20, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN | OB CONTRIBUTOR

Don’t just sit there. For a healthy workplace, move up and down — and all around.


Read more...

Where do Portland demographics rank among the largest 50 cities in the US?

The Latest
Tuesday, February 10, 2015
thumbpdxinperspectiveBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

The Portland in Perspective study, done by the City Budget Office, was released Tuesday.


Read more...

Nuclear fingerprints

March 2015
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

At Oregon State University, a 21st century version of the bad dream — nuclear terrorism — is alive and well. This winter, the Department of Nuclear Physics and Radiation Health Physics created a new interdisciplinary graduate emphasis in nuclear forensics, a Sherlock Holmes-sounding program that aims to identify how and where confiscated nuclear and radiological materials were created.


Read more...

The Carbon Calculus

February 2015
Friday, January 23, 2015
BY KIM MOORE | OB RESEARCH EDITOR

Carbon pricing is gaining momentum in Oregon, sparking concern for energy-intensive businesses — but also opportunity to expand a homespun green economy.


Read more...

Live, Work, Play: Amen Teter

February 2015
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Catching up with Amen Teter, Portland-based global director of action sports for Octagon Olympics & Action sports talent agency.


Read more...

Grassroots movement pursues carbon bills

News
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
eventthumbBY KIM MOORE | OB RESEARCH EDITOR

A partnership of a grassroots environmental organization and a youth group is striving to build community and business support for carbon price legislation.


Read more...

A legislative preview — and celebration

Linda Baker
Friday, January 23, 2015
012315-speaker-thumbBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

The Northwest Environmental Business Council previews the 2015 legislative agenda as Hatch Oregon celebrates Oregon's new community crowdfunding rules.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS