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Work It Out

Dealing with deadbeat employees.

After interviewing about a thousand applicants who looked and acted likebusiness-school rejects, you finally found an assistant with the necessaryqualifications. But you're realizing she's not quite as career-minded as youthought. She shows up late almost every day and makes hour-long calls to herboyfriend every time you turn your back. When you confront her, she grins andasks if she can take a vacation next month. Welcome to Boss Land.

What's the best way to deal with Ms. Broken Alarm? Before you fire her andstart from scratch with someone new (who may end up making your vacation queenlook like Employee of the Year), try to work with what you have, usingmotivation as a tool.

Motivated employees are productive employees, says Richard Hadden, aJacksonville, Florida, professional speaker, employee relations consultant andco-author of Contented Cows Give Better Milk (Williford Communications,$30, 800-339-6778), a book that highlights the human resources successes of sixprofitable organizations. According to Hadden, it is possible tomotivate your staff into productivity. In fact, it's as easy as one, two,three.

1. Equip and empower. "Create a setup in which your employees cansucceed," says Hadden. Don't blame Susie Show-Up-Late for lack of motivation ifyou haven't trained her properly. She should feel comfortable asking questions.Be patient, since she'll probably ask a lot of questions while she's learning.Watch her work, and praise her for each task completed correctly.

If you take the time to train your employee to be proficient from the start,you'll feel more comfortable delegating tasks--and your employee will be moreproductive and satisfied.

2. Show you care. "In successful companies, the employees work hardbecause they know their bosses really care about them as individuals," explainsHadden. Great pay, while important, is not what keeps employees happy andproductive, he contends; it's the satisfaction of being appreciated that getsresults.

"Find out what your employees need. Ask ┬┤What can I do to make your lifeeasier?' " says Hadden. "Then do your best to provide it." Walking the walk isanother key rule here. During crunch times, when you're asking employees to putin long hours, are you doing the same? Your presence speaks volumes whenworkloads are heavy and deadlines loom.

3. Tie employee pay to company performance. "The employee should bearsome of your company's risk," says Hadden. Even the smallest companies can setup a profit-sharing system in which you pay a percentage of company profits forwork well done. Profit-sharing is the best way to avoid paying for lowproductivity. Be specific about dollar amounts, and provide periodic financialreports, making sure the employee understands there's a direct connectionbetween the completion of the assigned task and the reward. "Your employee willquickly realize his [or her] level of income depends on the success of thisbusiness," Hadden says. Bingo. Instant enthusiasm, from what looked like a lostcause.

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