Don’t Pay Your Employees to Just Show Up

While presenting to an audience this week, I met Joanne, a manager struggling to get better performance out of her employees. Her comment was, “It seems like my employees just kind of show up to work – like they had no other place to go … they just let their days happen to them.”

To develop a discussion around the comment, I asked the audience why we pay our employees. Most of the audience either said the law requires it or to get employees to do the job.

I offered these perspectives about why we pay our employees:

  1. (My favorite definition) We pay our employees to think about the best, most efficient and most profitable response in each moment of their workday.
  2. We pay (invest in) our employees to create value (create a return) for our business (we expect a return on our investment).

To be able to either of these, employees can’t just show up; they have to have a plan that addresses what, where, when and how to approach their day.

Consider these 3 ways to help employees learn to plan their days:

  1. Show them how you create a daily plan. Insist they take 15 minutes daily to identify what are the priorities and how to work in a way that is efficient and effective. Create a standard daily “to-do list” or planning worksheet to start the process.
  2. Clearly define employee performance expectations. Help employees know what is not only expected but what is urgent and not urgent, important and not important. Creating context is critical to helping employees plan successfully.
  3. Summarize any large expectation into its smaller, more manageable components. This allows employees to make small but forward progress, as well as encourages their ability to feel successful in their planning effort.

For many employees, this will be a new practice so keep the process simple, meaningful and practical. Great habits are built little by little and when the person implementing a change sees its personal value and impact.

I believe to be great in work (and life) you can’t just show up – you have to have a plan. Planning requires thought, a process, knowledge of the facts and a clear set of expectations. Insist on employee planning time each day to ensure the organization doesn’t run in place, but actually makes forward progress on its performance targets and strategies.

More about employee training and retention on the Mindflash blog.

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Jay Forte is a nationally ranked thought leader and President of Humanetrics. Jay guides organizations – their leaders and managers – in how to attract, hire and retain today’s best talent. He is the author of “Fire Up! Your Employees and Smoke Your Competition” and “The Greatness Zone – Know Yourself, Find Your Fit, Transform The World.” Jay is a member of SHRM, ASTD, the National Speakers Association and the Florida Speakers Association. follow him on Twitter.