Over the years, Gallop has surveyed millions of employees and customers on a variety of workplace issues. One very interesting fact emerges from all their research. Of all the employees Gallup has surveyed, just over half have a clear understanding of what’s expected of them when they show up to work every day.
Think about that for a minute.
Almost one of out every two employees does not know what management expects from them in terms of job performance. Which means management isn’t telling them what is expected. Which means management expects employees to be mind readers. Or else they don’t care about performance.
And we wonder why excellence is such a rare commodity in the corporate world!
As leaders, the things we don’t do or say often have more of an impact than those that we do. So I took my own informal poll and came up with the top five things managers don’t do that undermine excellence in organizations.
1. Failure to define winning Nothing is more important to creating a culture of excellence than defining what winning looks like for your organization, for teams and for individuals. Having a clear definition of winning provides focus and clarity at every level. It gets everyone aligned and moving in the same direction. It motivates and inspires people to perform at their best. And when unexpected adversity occurs, it gives people an anchor to rally around and keep their energy and spirits high.
Don’t kid yourself about the importance of this one. If people don’t know what winning looks like, what game are they playing every day – what race are they running?
2. Failure to get obsessive about winning It’s not enough just to have a clear vision of winning. To keep employees focused on winning, you have to get obsessive about it! Otherwise, people get so distracted by everything they have on their plates that they lose sight of the big picture.
Constantly talk about the importance of winning with employees. Remind them of how it will benefit your customers, your community, and everyone in the organization when you win. Place visual cues throughout your work environment, and imbed your definition of winning into all your ways of working.
3. Not giving feedback Today’s employees want feedback, and lots of it! Without it, people don’t know where they stand in regards to performance expectations. More important, when you don’t tell employees how they’re doing, it sends the message that you don’t care.
Without feedback, people make up information to fill the void. This made-up information is almost always negative. Giving regular feedback helps to prevent destructive “information gaps,” and strengthens relationships between employees and their supervisors. It also leads to improved work quality, increased accountability, and a higher-performing work environment.
4. Not linking individual jobs to the big picture Most employees want to feel like they’re doing more than just earning a paycheck. That’s why it’s so important to create a clear and compelling vision of winning. But even when employees buy into your vision of winning, they often have a hard time seeing their roles in it.
Start by making sure every individual job actually supports getting to your destination. Then let people know — specifically — how their jobs contribute to winning and why it’s so important for them to perform at a high level. This makes it easier to set priorities, make decisions that support reaching your destination, and eliminate activities that get in the way of achieving the goal.
5. Not recognizing and rewarding great performance As leaders, we all know we need to acknowledge and reward employees for top performance. But far too often this “important but not urgent” activity gets lost in the day-to-day pressures of getting the product out the door. If you want to sustain a culture of excellence, you’d better have a system or process in place that makes rewarding employees part of your regular routine. And I’m not talking about an automatic 1% bonus at the end of the year. I’m talking about small, ongoing, personalized rewards that show employees you really appreciate the effort they put in.
Nothing lets the air out of the excellence balloon quicker than a perceived attitude of indifference on the part of management. And nothing shouts “indifference” louder than failing to perform your job as a leader. Put these five tasks on your daily to-do list and watch your employees’ performance soar! Don’t do them and don’t be surprised by a lack of excellence in your organization.