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Employees compete to win at Backhaul Direct Featured

8:01pm EDT March 31, 2011
Employees compete to win at Backhaul Direct

Are you reluctant to call out an employee who is not meeting your expectations? Do you worry about the conflict you might create by raising these concerns? If you answered yes to these questions, you’re not doing your job as the leader of your business.

“You read a lot about making sure you’re not hurting people’s feelings and not being over the top and too aggressive when you talk to people,” says Greg Harris, founder, president and CEO of Backhaul Direct LLC. “You need a level of aggression. You’re paying someone to do a job. They need to know where you stand. If you’re not happy with the productivity of an employee, you have to let them know.”

Before you get the wrong idea about the corporate culture at Backhaul Direct, you should know that Harris loves to have fun both at work and away from the office. The 75-employee freight management and logistics firm sponsors a collegiate bowling tournament each February and has a group of employees who bowl regularly.

“You have to be able to come here and enjoy what you’re doing,” Harris says. “That’s the last thing I want is for someone to come here and hate everything about their job.”

Harris considers it part of his job to foster a strong and healthy workplace culture. But it’s also his job to expect and demand the best from his employees and give them a kick in the butt when they need it.

“It’s the job of a manager, just like a personal trainer, to always be pushing you a little bit,” Harris says. “I tell my guys all the time, ‘You’re always going to feel some resistance from me. I’m always going to be pushing and challenging you.’”

Harris takes the physical fitness and training analogy a step further.

“I’m not going to tell you to fire off 10 reps at 15 pounds when I know that you can fire off 20 reps at 30 pounds,” Harris says. “At the same time, you don’t want to establish goals that are so far out of their range of capability that they will be disheartened and disgruntled with their job.”

The key in establishing goals is to make them a priority. Put them down on paper so that there is a record of what you and your employees have determined to be goals worthy of pursuing.

“You absolutely have to put them in writing,” Harris says. “You also have to create a plan on how you’re going to hit those goals.”

Backhaul Direct has made the pursuit of sales goals more fun by creating groups that employees can aspire to join. Newcomers are “Lottery Picks,” a nod to the elite rookies picked in the NBA Draft.

Next is the “Contenders,” a group of employees who have risen above the first stage but aren’t at the top of the heap yet. And at the top is the “Top Dogs,” the sales reps who handle the company’s most important accounts.

“They have the big clients, the flexible schedule and the company work card for unlimited lunches,” Harris says.

The idea is to create a sense of competition that energizes employees and drives growth. It’s a fun way to keep the motivation level high at a company that has plans to add more than 300 jobs by 2015.

“We try to maintain a competitive atmosphere where everyone is privy to the company sales goals, their numbers and the other sales reps’ numbers in our office,” Harris says. “We look at that as a motivating factor. You don’t want to be the low man on the totem pole.”

How to reach: Backhaul Direct LLC, (800) 518-1664 or www.backhauldirect.com

Ask the questions

So what happens if goals aren’t being met and revenue isn’t growing in your business? Greg Harris says you can start by appraising your own performance.

“Are they responding to your message?” says Harris, founder, president and CEO at Backhaul Direct LLC. “Are you giving employees the proper tools to meet those goals? Are they targeting the right clients? Have they not been taught appropriately from day one?”

If you determine that you’ve done your job, start looking at what’s going on with the employee.

“Do they not like the product they are selling?” Harris says. “Do they not like they are selling? Are they just not interested in what they are doing anymore? Is there something else I can challenge the person with? Maybe they have outgrown what they are doing. Ask the question: ‘You seem burned out. You seem complacent. Is there a reason for that? Can I do something different? Is there something within our scope that you can do in the company?’”

In addition to these questions, you also need to make it clear that there is a problem if an employee is not performing to expectation.

“Show concern and try to set something else for them to do,” Harris says. “But let them know, ‘Right now what you’re doing, it’s just not working for us. Is there something we can do to help?’”

How to reach: Backhaul Direct LLC, (800) 518-1664 or www.backhauldirect.com