Dairy Coach: Employee management simplified
By Tom Wall
Three core principles – clarity, accountability and discipline – make employee management less complicated and more effective.
Chances are you’ve noticed there’s a lot of “expert advice” out there on how to be a better manager. I tend to think most advice about effective employee management is too complicated, and often impractical. Basically, there’s too much technical, academic theory, and not enough simple, commonsense advice you can actually implement on your dairy. (Or maybe it’s just me, and I’m not smart enough to understand what they’re saying.)
You only need a few simple principles to start improving your employee management skills. At the foundation are three core principles: 1) clarity; 2) accountability; and 3) discipline.
These aren’t just principles that apply to your team of employees. These principles start at the top, with you and your management team. So how well do you and your team stack up in these three areas?
Clarity is when everyone you work with knows and understands your expectations. No guessing, no confusion, no gray area – just clear expectations. If you’re frequently disappointed by your employees’ work, chances are they’re working up to someone else’s expectations, not yours. It’s your job to set the bar at a reasonably high level if you want your employees and business to succeed. The easiest way to communicate your expectations clearly is by creating and adhering to simple rules, policies and protocols – in writing.
Why do they have to be in writing? Have you ever noticed how each person tends to remember and interpret what you say differently? If something isn’t written down, you’ve got nothing clear to stand on.
Accountability is about people being held responsible for their actions and working according to your clear expectations. Almost everyone knows what they’re supposed to do. What truly matters is that they actually do it.
Ironically, holding your employees accountable for what they do (and what they don’t do) actually requires that you’re accountable for your work first. You have to do your job as a manger and have the uncomfortable, necessary conversations when people aren’t pulling their weight. And why is that so important? Unfortunately, when people aren’t held accountable for doing their work, many often don’t. And when someone doesn’t do their job, conflicts start and teamwork stops. When people are accountable to themselves and their team, they’re committed to doing their work and working together. Accountability is all about “owning” responsibilities and their outcomes.
Without discipline, everything your employees hear you say is merely a “fad” – a big deal one day, and then forgotten the next. Discipline is all about following through with what you say you’re going to do, even if you’d rather not do it. Discipline is about being consistent and forming good habits. It requires a strong will and an investment of time to show your team you’re committed to following your game plan, adhering to your values and achieving your goals. When you’re consistently disciplined with even the smallest details, your team will realize you’re serious about doing things the right way.
There’s nothing complicated about this advice. If you keep clarity, accountability and discipline at the foundation of your management principles, I’m confident that your job will be easier, and your people will be more effective.
• Dairy CoachTM Tom Wall helps people reach their potential, training employees and coaching dairy managers on how to implement simple systems that work. For more coaching tips, check out www.dairycoach.com.