Many managers and business owners mistakenly assume that “high performance” is a synonym for “workaholic.” It might surprise those people to learn that just putting in longer hours does not guarantee that an employee is a top performer. In fact, if the research is to be believed, it may be the employees who work fewer hours who are more productive.
So, if you’re just watching to see who’s still at their desk an hour after quitting time, stop. If you want a high-performance workforce, it may be time to change your company culture.
Put Results First
If you’re the boss who stands at the door, handing out frowns and tardy slips to anyone who dares to stroll in one minute after starting time, and who records which employees work the most hours, it’s time to forget that whole attitude.
High performance teams aren’t the ones that reward quantity of time worked. They’re the ones that reward results. After all, squeezing ten extra unproductive hours out of an employee won’t help your bottom line, but rewarding employees who save you money, or increase sales, will. Single out the employees that get the best results, and figure out how they do it.
Give Your Team the Tools They Need
If your team is working harder than ever, but it’s not showing on your balance sheet, then they may not have the right tools for the job. Review how you do everything, and look for tools, software and training that will help your team to do their jobs better, more efficiently and with better results.
There’s an old saying about trying to force a square peg into a round hole, and the same goes for hiring. If you’re trying to force an employee who is not used to being super productive into a high-performance team, you may be fighting a losing battle.
Take a closer look at your talent recruitment strategies. Create profiles of your ideal employees. Take more time on pre-employment checks, and upgrade your employee verification process.
Look beyond college results to employment track records. Has the employee done amazing things elsewhere? Do they have the habit of job hopping? If so, why? Tailor interview questions to find out how candidates would improve your team’s performance, and whether they’re simply putting in time, or a genuine go-getter.
One of the most common issues for companies these days is often that they’re too set in their ways to change. They’ve been around for so long, and things have always been done a certain way, that they stagnate, and their younger, quicker, more nimble competitors run rings around them.
If you ever catch yourself saying that you’ve always done something that way, then it’s probably time to force change. Hire a top performer from one of those younger competitors. Change how you do things. Investigate new technology. Embrace change, and make continuous improvement a part of your culture.
Competition is tighter in business than it has ever been, and you need to be the very best that you can be to stay relevant and profitable.
There’s an old saying that goes “people don’t quit jobs, they quit managers.” What that means is that the number one reason most people leave jobs is because they don’t get along with a manager or supervisor, and that’s usually true. It may surprise you to learn that, but it’s not money, location or any other single factor that impacts employee turnover the most. It’s the people they work for, and when you’re looking for ways to improve culture and retention, this is a good place to start.
Identify departments where you have high turnover, and take a closer look at the management structure, and if that doesn’t solve the problem, consider the following options.
Getting and keeping the right people in your organization can have a huge impact on your bottom line, and it all starts with your hiring policies. Instead of using the hiring process to exclude as many people as possible, use tools like character reference checks to find people who are skilled, experienced, and loyal team players.
The right team goes a long way to company success, and to employee retention.
It’s Not All About Money
There’s no denying that money is a core factor in the employment relationship. People work because they need money to live, and if they didn’t have to, most would probably be out surfing, climbing mountains or creating art.
If you’re already paying your employees market-related or better salaries, and you’re still struggling to hold on to them, then you need to start looking at non-financial retention methods, which may include:
– Access to in-house or external training. Great employees are always looking for ways to improve their skills, and this benefits them and you!
– Improve the working environment. While you might be far from sick building syndrome, there’s no denying that a nice, comfortable work space makes being at work more enjoyable for everyone. Install standing desks. Paint the walls a bright, sunny shade. Start an employee graffiti wall. Whatever it takes to spruce up your space.
– Listen to your employees. Even if you think your managers are the best thing since sliced bread, it’s your employees that have to work with them, and they might be having a very different experience. If one employee complains, it may be personal. If they all do, it’s a cause for concern, and a reason for action.
– Stop micromanaging. Employees want to have some autonomy, and to feel that they can make decisions and take action within the scope of their job. If you’re hanging over their shoulder all the time, that can’t happen, and they’re going to find somewhere that they can be creative and make a real difference.
– Have an internal promotion policy, and stick to it. Your people want to know that they are working towards something, and if you’re hiring outside the organization for all the best jobs, they won’t feel that way.
As much as we’d like to, we can’t all be like Google, with their free food, chill out rooms and maker spaces. But there are things every company can do to make working there more enjoyable for everyone, and when people like their workplace and their jobs, they stay longer, and that’s good for the bottom line.
It’s perfectly understandable that employers want to get as much information about potential new hires before making an offer. You want to limit your short list, cut back on the need for a pre-employment check for each one, and minimize the number of employee reference checks you need to conduct. After all, there are all sorts of horror stories about bad hires out there. However, while it is understandable that you want to ask as many questions as possible, there are several that you could get into big trouble for asking.
You’re not alone either. Studies have shown that up to 20% of interviewers have asked an inappropriate question during an interview. Here are some that you will want to avoid:
Religious affiliation. It is illegal to discriminate against candidates based on their religious affiliation or lack thereof. The only exception to this rule would be where religion is a core element of the job, for example, if you were hiring a religious leader for a church or similar organization.
Pregnancy and family plans. You cannot discriminate against a potential hire because they are pregnant or because they plan to become pregnant. Similarly, it’s illegal to discriminate against candidates for having or not having children.
Questions about race, color or ethnicity. Again, you cannot choose whether to hire or not hire a candidate based on their race or ethnicity.
Political affiliation. You can get into a lot of trouble if you choose to hire or not hire based on politics. Don’t even make small talk about politics!
Age, disability or marital status. Unless these play a direct role in the job, you have no business asking them. An exception would be, for instance, where a job requires the candidate to climb ladders, and they are in a wheelchair. If the disability is directly opposed to being able to carry out the job, and there is no means of working around that requirement, then a disability may be a factor in hiring.
Drinking or smoking. As long as your candidates are above the legal age of consent, and as long as they are not involved in illegal drugs, their social drinking or smoking habits cannot be a factor in your hiring decisions.
Financial record: Unless the job is related to finance, and credit scores and bankruptcy history are a direct requirement for the position, there’s no reason to ask a candidate about their financial situation.
Documentation and qualifications unless relevant. It’s reasonable to ask whether your prospective employee has a degree or certification that is required for the job. It’s not reasonable to ask about something like a driver’s license unless the job specifically requires driving.
Basically, any question that may result in information that could be perceived as leading to discrimination can cause problems later on.
When in Doubt, Don’t
These are some of the more common illegal interview questions employers ask prospective employees, but they’re not the only ones. There are many other questions that can get you in hot water, depending on the context.
If there’s any doubt at all about the legitimacy of a question, rather don’t ask it. It’s better to hire professionals to conduct pre-employment checks and background screenings, and avoid the potential legal minefield that asking the wrong questions can result in than to take a chance.
Remember, it’s becoming more common for prospective employees to sue potential employers who didn’t hire them based on discrimination. If you want to avoid that sort of litigation, you need to avoid even the perception of discrimination. It’ll save you time, money and headaches in the long term.