Form Quality Improvement TeamsThe quality movement has been around for quite some time. Unlike many new management concepts, quality seems to be here to stay, fortunately. The Toyota debacle certainly ensured that fact! Quality involves change: Looking at processes, policies and procedures takes effort. Most people do not like change because it involves them having to do something differently, like learn a new skill or technique, move to a different office, or interact with different people, software or machinery. However, when employees truly understand the need to investigate and improve the quality of operations in an organization, they are usually willing participants, interested, and even excited about the change, as long as they can see the benefit of it.
Although the interest may be there, the knowledge and skill base may not. This is a wonderful opportunity to stimulate the growth and development of some of your employees. Form quality teams to investigate any of a variety of aspects of your company. In fact, empower the people who will be on the team to decide what aspect of organizational life to look at. Then, either send them to an external seminar or hire an expert to come in and teach the basic quality improvement methods to the team. Then set them loose on your organization. You are almost guaranteed to see an increase in enthusiasm for the job, morale, self-esteem and productivity.
Ask Employees What Will Make Them More Proud of Their WorkMost people come to work to have their self-esteem reinforced. They enjoy coming to work. They enjoy being productive. They enjoy taking pride in their accomplishments. Pride, progress and productivity can almost always be improved. If the goal is to increase individual satisfaction and pride in one's accomplishments, then many employees would work earnestly to do so. They just might not be sure how to increase their pride in the workplace.
Create a "Pride Development Team" to look at various job functions and help determine what can be done by management and by individual employees to improve pride in the work. The key here is to look at how easy it is for employees to see the direct or indirect impact they are having on the outcome of their work. When the work is done well, when an employee feels he/she had an impact on the outcome, pride follows.
Create Mentoring Relationships For EmployeesThere are many advantages to creating mentoring relationships in organizations, especially for new employees. "Learning the ropes" can be a daunting and time-wasting period; usually, it takes months or even longer, depending on the complexity of the job description. New employees often learn by "On the Job Training" that is replete with errors, omissions and compromises. There is a better way.
Pair up a mature, experienced individual with a new employee, but make sure there is no direct reporting relationship between them. The role of the long-term person is to educate the new employee by providing informal guidance and direction on how things work. (What are the unspoken norms, processes and procedures for accomplishing a certain task? Who are the key people to get to know; who are the ones to avoid? What does the new employee have to do, learn and experiment with to become a success?)
Create an Effective Performance Appraisal System.We need to know how we are doing on the job. This most likely comes from being evaluated so often in school, by our parents and by friends. So why should it be any different in the workplace? Employees need to know when to continue performing in a certain way and when to stop or change. Management has the distinct opportunity and responsibility to make that happen.
First, the manager or the leader needs to agree with the employee on exactly what the specifications are for the job description. Then they need to set up goals and objectives for how the job will be performed and what the markers are for success.
Ideally, once each quarter the boss and the individual need to meet for an evaluation of the progress toward accomplishing the goals. Unfortunately, in reality, this process usually only occurs once per year. The value of the more frequent meeting is to provide more timely feedback and advice on how to maximize employee performance. Prior to this information session, both the manager and the employee need to fill out the performance appraisal questionnaire and evaluation form. This way, both parties are prepared for meeting and can share their perspectives. Finally, the tenor of this meeting needs to be positive, not punitive. That is not to say that negative or incorrect performance should not be discussed; it should. It is to say, however, that performance appraisal needs to be geared toward learning and improvement.
The end result is that both the leader and the employee will know exactly how well the latter is doing on the job, what improvements, if any, need to be made, and how far along the route toward completion and success the employee is.
Go Out and Find Someone Doing Something RightWe are all social animals. We need and like to interact with others--some more, some less. And during this process, we need to receive feedback. Am I liked? Am I doing good work? Am I doing the right thing? Do I need to change my behavior in some way? Should I be working with a team or continue independently?
These pertinent questions and others can easily be answered both informally and formally. You as a leader create positive morale when you simply Manage By Walking Around (MBWA). As you stroll though your building, stop and ask people how they are, what obstacles are in the way of getting their work done, what works well, what does not, and what their successes are. When you ask these and other questions, be sure to identify something positive that the individual is doing; in fact, make a definite point of finding something good to say, and be clear when you state it to your employees. You will certainly see a smile on their face. First, they will probably be surprised that their leader found something good to say about their work, and second, they will feel an increase in self-esteem. Both are clear motivating factors that also improve morale.