By: Jay Mittelman
Maximum employee involvement in continuously generating product and service improvement ideas begins with creating a positive, encouraging workplace culture and environment. And creating this kind of supportive environment begins with how management and supervisors prepare new employees.
Use the “Parenting” Method
Here’s another good approach used by a Chamber of Commerce executive:
“I use the ‘mothering’ method of management,” said Robin Anderson, Chamber exec in Mason City, IA. “I find out what is important to the members of my team — what makes them tick — and then reward good performance by helping them achieve their goals, whether that means financial incentives or schedule modifications.”
Using this approach just as a successful parent doesn’t treat all of her children exactly alike: don’t automatically treat your new employee just as you’d treat most or all of your other employees. Look for the motivators and rewards that will work best for the individual.
Anderson explained: “For example, if someone on my team is a good performer, and what really matters to them is getting off work early every Thursday to see their child’s baseball game, it’s my job to try to make that happen. If another employee is interested in volunteer work and consistently helps us achieve our business goals, I look for opportunities for them to volunteer.”
There is a knack to supervising and coaching new employees so that they contribute their very best. Here are five tips:
Note #1: Wishy-washy standards won’t do it. Example: “Operate the widget machine.” Instead: “Operate the widget machine, producing an average of 35 widgets per hour with less than two errors during the shift.”
Note #2: Include in all employees’ job descriptions requirements to participate in the organization’s employee involvement program or employee suggestion program. Such a statement could be: “Submit to your supervisor or team a minimum of one new idea to improve product quality or service each month.”
And this applies to communicating your expectations for the new employee to get involved in continuously coming up with new ideas to improve your products and services, and to cut costs and save money. If this is an important activity in your workplace you must communicate this to new employees, with sufficient details so that they know exactly what is expected and how they are to be involved.
Here’s a technique that’s good when correcting new employees’ mistakes. Own up to your own mistakes.
Example: “When I first ran this pump, I left a valve open and caused a flood in the basement!” The new employee is put at ease because you, as the boss, can admit to your own bloopers.
Make a public show of your appreciation at a staff meeting, a special luncheon or an informal gathering at the break table. Publicly pat the new employee on the back. Tell co-workers how well the new employee has performed a task.
Thanking a new employee, and showing appreciation, when the employee comes up with new ideas is extremely important. You can expect many new employees to come into your workplace with unique experiences that will prompt them to see numerous ways in which they believe your products and services can be improved. When a new employee shares a new idea, it is essential that he or she immediately receive appreciation and recognition. Otherwise, this will work to extinguish the employee’s enthusiasm and dampen that person’s continued involvement in sharing new ideas.
5. Include the new employee as “one of the team.” New employees won’t belong to your team until they plug into your organization’s social network. Ask new employees about their hobbies. Go the extra mile to match the employee with co-workers who have similar interests. And be sure to include him or her in impromptu gatherings of staff at a restaurant for lunch or at the bar for an after work drink.