Business leaders often get the credit when a company is successful, but they know that much of that credit is due to their employees.
Such a precious resource must be handled with care, says Robin Cheramie, Ph.D., assistant professor of the Michael J. Coles College of Business in the Department of Management and Entrepreneurship at Kennesaw State University. Constant supervision of the implementation of training and goal-setting within a company’s work force is crucial, she says, in making both the company and its employees happy and productive.
Smart Business spoke with Cheramie about what strategies companies can take to make sure its employees are constantly growing and helping the company achieve success.
What feedback-seeking behaviors among their employees should employers be on the look out for? How should they handle them?
Many employees want to know how they’re performing on the job and will seek this information from supervisors and/or co-workers. Managers should provide continuous feedback throughout the year; however, if an employee actively seeks feedback, then the manager should respond in a timely, constructive manner. If not, employees may choose to avoid seeking feedback when they really need assistance. Annual performance reviews should be a platform for discussing administrative issues with employees and for outlining future developmental plans. This information shouldn’t be surprising to employees, as they should be receiving feedback on a more frequent basis.
How important is training to the work environment?
Continuous development and learning for employees is critical. In order for companies to remain competitive in organizational performance and the recruitment of talented employees, they must be committed to developing the knowledge, skills and abilities of all employees. Organizations can train employees with their own HR staff or they can choose to hire outside consultants to develop particular skills. It isn’t as important how employees are trained as it is that they continue to develop their skills.
Once organizations commit to long-term training strategies, they should evaluate the effectiveness of these training programs. In particular, managers need to make sure that employees are using the newly trained skills when they return to the daily work routine. Training can be expensive, and managers need to ensure that they’re receiving a return on their investment with higher skill levels.
How important is individual accountability in a company?
Very important because employee performance drives successful organizations. Therefore, employees need to have a clear picture of their task expectations, and managers need to enforce these expectations. Managers and employees should be working together to set specific and challenging goals. If an employee has the necessary abilities to perform a particular job and receives constructive progress reports, then he or she can be held accountable.
What are the steps a company can take to ensure the development of leaders?
A succession plan is important for executives as well as middle managers within any company. Organizations should identify and groom potential leaders by developing individual career plans in annual performance reviews.
Once employees and managers agree upon potential career paths within the organization, then leadership training should begin for these employees. An effective leader is someone who can influence others toward a particular goal. Therefore, this person must develop skills in conflict management, negotiation, motivation and persuasion. Coaching and mentoring programs can be an effective method for grooming employees for upper management by allowing junior employees to learn from an influential leader.
What are the overall factors to achieving healthy employee morale?
Employee morale can be influenced by multiple facets such as satisfaction with the job, organization, supervisor, co-workers, pay, benefits, etc.
Organizations should make every attempt to attract and match the right employees for each job and the right employees for the culture of the organization as well. A smooth transition from candidate to new employee is critical. New employees can become dissatisfied quickly during the first few months with an organization if proper care isn’t made to help with this transition. Managers can do this by setting realistic, clear job expectations and providing frequent feedback. An organizational culture that promotes quality programs for developing employees through strategic hiring, training, compensating and evaluating employees can create high performance and committed employees for the organization.
ROBIN CHERAMIE, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of the Michael J. Coles College of Business in the Department of Management and Entrepreneurship at Kennesaw State University. Reach her at (770) 423-6097.