The Importance of the Workplace Environment
Many managers and supervisors labor under the mistaken impression that the level of employee performance on the job is proportional to the size of the employee’s pay packet. Although this may be true in a minority of cases, numerous employee surveys have shown by and large this to be untrue. In fact, salary increases and bonuses for performance, in many instances, have a very limited short-term effect. The extra money soon comes to be regarded not as an incentive but as an “entitlement”.
There are other factors that when combined provide a more powerful determinant of employee performance. When these other factors are missing or diluted, the employee does come to work only for a paycheck. In this case, the employee is present at work in body only, leaving their mind outside the gate.
It is the quality of the employee’s workplace environment that most impacts on their level of motivation and subsequent performance. How well they engage with the organization, especially with their immediate environment, influences to a great extent their error rate, level of innovation and collaboration with other employees, absenteeism and, ultimately, how long they stay in the job. Many studies have revealed that most employees leave their organization because of the relationship with their immediate supervisor or manager.
So, what are the workplace environment factors that need to be taken into consideration by any serious manager? Described below are the key factors and how each can be utilized by supervisors and managers to boost performance.
Workplace Performance Factors
Involve employees in setting meaningful goals and performance measures for their work. This can be done informally between the employee and their immediate supervisor or as part of an organization’s formal performance management process. The key here is that each employee is actively engaged in the goal-setting process and takes ownership of the final agreed goals and measures.
Regularly feed back to employees information on how they are performing. This should consist of both positive feedback on what the employee is doing right as well as feedback on what requires improvement. The feedback needs to be as objective as possible and delivered with the appropriate interpersonal and conflict resolution skills. It can be a mix of both informal feedback and feedback delivered as part of a formal performance management cycle.
Work to ensure that the role that the employee is required to perform is consistent with their expectations on joining the organization and any subsequent training. The organization’s role expectations are typically reflected in formal documents, such as Job Descriptions and Role Specifications. These expectations should be consistent with tasks allocated by the employee’s immediate supervisor.
Many errors, defects and customer complaints are the result of poor process management. Constrain the variability of how work is actually performed through documenting processes and communicating such expectations to employees. Verify on a regular or random basis that the work is actually performed in the way required. Along with goal setting, getting employees to help define and improve processes is a powerful opportunity for engagement.
Determine what motivates your employees in particular and set up formal and informal structures for rewarding employees that behave in the way required. Rewards may consist of a mix of internal rewards, such as challenging assignments, and external rewards, such as higher compensation and peer recognition.
Act as advocates for employees, gathering and distributing the resources needed by them in order for them to be able to do a good job. Immediate supervisors and managers need to display the interpersonal skills required to engage employees and enhance their self-confidence. This includes providing positive encouragement for a job well done.
Make available to employees skilled and respected people to help them perform better in their current role and to assist them develop further into a future role. Mentors and coaches may be internal to an organization or external. Either way, they will need to possess the necessary facilitation skills to assist employees apply existing sills and develop new skills.
The vast majority of employees take pride in their work and try hard to do a good job. Make sure that individual workloads and organizational systems and processes do not hinder employees from applying established skills or from practicing newly learned skills. Adequate time and material resources need to be available to enable them to perform to the best of their ability. Make their work easier and help minimize error rates and customer dissatisfaction by supplying job aids. These can include templates, guides, models and checklists.
Money is not a sufficient motivator in encouraging the superior workplace performance required in today’s competitive business environment. Managers and supervisors will need to be comfortable with working with the whole gamut of workplace factors that influence employee motivation. Skills required include the ability to engage employees in mutual goal setting, clarify role expectations and provide regular performance back. Time and energy will also need to be given to providing relevant performance incentives, managing processes, providing adequate resources and workplace coaching. Last but not least, to drive their organizations to peak performance managers and supervisors must put out front the human face of their organization. Paramount here is the human-to-human interaction through providing individualized support and encouragement to each and every employee.
2006 © Business Performance Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.
Vicki Heath is the Director of Business Performance Pty Ltd, a company providing practical online information and resources in a range of business areas, including change management. Her company’s guides, tools and templates assist organizations engage and develop people, manage organizational change and improve project delivery.
Her comprehensive guide, Managing Change in the Workplace, will help you learn and apply many practical strategies for improving the chances of success of your change initiative. The Guide is complete with a reusable and customizable workbook. Download the Guide and the free Change Role Skills Gap Worksheet at http://www.businessperform.com.