People Power: Tools enable employee (and business) success
By Robert Milligan
On a recent night, my hometown Minnesota Timberwolves scored 100 points against the Utah Jazz. Can you tell me who won the game? The answer, of course, is “no,” since you don’t know how many points the Jazz scored.
While that seems obvious, and maybe even silly, we frequently have a similar situation with employees. We often provide employee performance information without quantified goals (expectations). As a result, the employee does not have sufficient information to assess their performance.
Employees come to work with a desire to succeed. Your responsibility as a dairy supervisor/coach is to provide the information they need to determine if they are succeeding. That information includes both what performance is expected and the actual performance.
We must not extend the basketball analogy too far. In the basketball game, there was a “winner” and a “loser.” In supervising and coaching dairy employees, we want all to be winners.
You can use four tools to assist your employees in their quest to succeed:
• A performance management system
• A standard operating procedure (SOP)
• A checklist
• An activity flow
1) Performance Management System
I work with my clients to implement a comprehensive performance management system I call the Workforce Success System. A key component of it is focused around the Performance Expectations Worksheet (see below).
The key to successfully using this worksheet is a frequent, collaborative, and typically short meeting that:
• Identifies a small number of key measures of success in the employee’s position.
• Is a joint discussion of actual performance in the last period – typically a month – compared to the expected performance established as a goal at the last meeting. This discussion is focused on improvement rather than evaluation.
• Contains discussion leading to joint agreement on the expected performance in the next period (month).
• Is a discussion of any other issues or concerns raised by either the employee or the supervisor.
2) SOPS: Quality Assurance Tools
In dairy we have a tendency to use the term standard operating procedure (SOP) to describe all tools we use to assist employees consistently perform tasks. In most industries, these tools are called quality assurance tools, with SOPs being one of them.
The use of quality tools in relationship-focused supervision are used under three conditions:
• The supervisor provides clarity about how and why the tool is needed for excellent performance.
• The use of the quality tool is consistent with fairness meaning the detail can be justified as necessary for successful performance.
• Employee input is welcomed and encouraged.
We use SOPs (sample below) to describe one of three quality tools. An SOP is appropriately used when a specific sequence of tasks is necessary for successful performance.
A checklist is appropriate for a list of tasks that a) must all be executed correctly for successful performance and b) the order is not critical to successful performance. The checklist (sample below) allows for the employee to schedule the sequence that is best for him or her.
4) Activity Flow
An activity flow is a format developed by Dairy Strategies for regularly scheduled, usually less frequent than daily tasks (sample below). It can be used for a complete scheduling of all tasks for a process, sub-process or person. It is essentially a 28-day checklists.
A final word
If you would like any of these tools as a computer file, e-mail your request to me. The key takeaway is that for employees to be able to conclude that they are succeeding, they must be provided both expectations and actual results.