It’s a commonly asked question: “How do I get more out of my employees?”
Well, like any good employment guru, I say that you are asking the wrong question.
The right question is, “How do I make my employees happy?” A happy employee translates to a happy customer. Happy customers mean more revenue. It’s just science. Check out this study if you don’t believe me. So, if happy employees are generating more revenue, what is more impactful to your business than that? Instead of wondering how you will manually squeeze every drop of productivity out of people, wonder how you can get their hearts and minds to align with the company’s goals.
As progressive as we try to be as employers, there is a pervasive belief that paying your people on time and as agreed should inspire their best work. Yes, maybe they want some affirmation, maybe a break here and there, a vacation, but, in the end, that’s all gravy. We only need to make sure that paycheck drops, as promised, into their bank account every two weeks or so.
Well, if the robot dystopian movies we all watch became a reality, that could be true. If your entire staff were robots, you wouldn’t have to deal with all those pesky emotional needs. Robots only need to be purchased and maintained. They don’t need encouragement or trust retreats or snacks in the break room. They don’t need affirmations or bonuses or standup meetings in the morning. They do as they are programmed. And they do it on time and to the exact specifications of their programming. If you need them to increase productivity, it’s just a short beep boop and then hit enter.
But, people aren’t robots. Yes, I know it’s trite and that you know this. But, do you really? Once your people have been paid and have comfortable desk chair and a computer, do you just walk away and feel entitled to their best, brightest and fastest work?
You might be thinking, at this point, that robots are preferable to people. Because, who wants to deal with the complexities of the human condition, multiplied by however many people you have to employ?
Well, first of all, you can’t employ robots. We aren’t the Jetsons and we may never be.
But, if you are fantasizing about it because you just are tired of dealing with how to hire effectively and more people problems, let’s consider a world without your people problems. Consider what it would be like to work with robots. All the complexity that makes people difficult to deal with is also the complexity that makes them have ideas, feel empathy for your customer, see a problem from a totally different side than anyone else. That wonderful brain power, with all its accompanying problems, is working for you and your business.
But, you don’t get that creative power if you roll your eyes and walk around wishing you could employ robots.
Consider how you will make your incredible team of non-robots happy. How will you get their best, most joyful work out of them? Ask anyone what they love about their job, and no one will say “I absolutely ADORE my paycheck.” Ask them questions, watch for facial cues and changes in office mood. If you say “let’s hit the gym as a team,” and everyone is silent, you haven’t come across the team activity that they will look forward to. Even if you love the gym, they don’t. If you notice that, in general, productivity is lacking, find your most honest and open team member. Bring him or her into a private space and ask for total honest. Don’t get your guard up, don’t get defensive. Just listen. And don’t retaliate in any way (that includes a day of silent treatment or lack of eye contact). It should be positive and productive. Find out what the team is talking about, what they really hate about you as a manager, what they wish they could change about their jobs.
The average worker will spend one third of their adult lives at work. Think about that. Combine all those hours together, and that adds up to about 15 YEARS of their life. If it’s a prison sentence, expect inmates. If it’s a creative, energetic, positive experience, expect the best people with the best possible output. Expect non-robots.