Seven Ways to
Fuel the Fire
in Employee Performance
By Howard Hyden
In a down market, it is crucial to do an awesome job for your
customers. Retaining your existing customers and attracting new ones
is the key to having a good year in tough times. If you want your
employees to be awesome with customers, you must be awesome to your
employees. Here are seven key strategies to increase employee
1. Change management behavior: Einstein’s famous
definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over and
expecting different results.” If management doesn’t change its'
behavior why should you expect different results from your
employees. Life is a six-inch game, and those 6 inches is right
between the ears. If you tell your employees “the market is tough
and we will probably have a tough year” they will probably prove you
right. However, if you communicate that the market is tough
then the good news is that the competitors think they’re going to
have a tough year. Since they believe that they are going to have a
tough year why don’t you put the pedal to the metal to bring more
value to your customers so that you can have a good year.
You just might become what you think. Communicate a strategy that
it is important to go the extra mile for the customer so that you
can minimize the risk of losing customers. Additionally, if you are
awesome with customers they may spread P.W.O.M. (positive
word-of-mouth) so that you can attract new customers.
2. Hire the best: All too frequently, employers run
a classified ad, get marginal candidates, and then hire the tallest
twerp. If you want to motivate your current team, you must add new
hires that bring the right attitude and work ethic to the party.
Hiring wrong can be a bad motivation for your current employees.
You, as well as your team, can look for hard-working dedicated
employees with the right attitude in their personal life. Everyone
is a customer of numerous organizations, so when you are a customer
and an employee goes the extra mile and is demonstrating right
behavior - hire them! It is easier to teach them about your
business than it is to try to fix poor attitude or a weak work
3. Weed the garden: The strategy here is to hire the
best and leave the rest. If you do not weed the garden
the performance of the team will go down. When you finally weed the
garden the other employees will probably cheer as well as say “what
took you so long- we figured that out 10 months ago.” If you do not
weed the garden, the employees just might be standing at the water
cooler complaining about how tough it is. If they are doing that,
they are certainly not focused on going the “extra mile” for the
customer. This often leads to N.W.O.M. (negative word of mouth),
which can lead to either lost customers or fewer sales
opportunities. When you finally weed the garden, the performance of
the rest of the team will go up.
the right environment including tools and equipment: To better
service customers a company installed GPS systems in the field
personnel's vehicles. That way when a customer called in for service
it allowed the company to dispatch the closest service technician to
that customer. Another company had numerous catalogs with a variety
of products from their suppliers. The problem was that the
information quickly became obsolete and the salespeople didn't have
current information at their fingertips. The company put all of
their catalogs, as well as current pricing information, on CDs and
equipped their field personnel with laptops. This allowed the field
personnel to give accurate product as well as pricing information to
the customer on the spot.
5. Using W.I.I.F.M. (what’s in it for me) as a key
strategy to light the fire in your employees: Employees can
obviously see what’s in it for the customer when the employee gives
up their lunch hour or stays late to go the extra mile for the
customer. Employees are also good at understanding “what’s in it
for the company.” The company makes more profit. In tough times
it may be even more vital to use W.I.I.F.M. to stoke the fires in
your employees. In doing a significant amount of research on
corporate culture and behavior change, one of the key strategies was
that +K.I.T.A.’s change behavior more than -K.I.T.A.’s. +K.I.T.A.’s translates
into a positive kick in the posterior changes behavior more than
negative K.I.T.A.’s. Most employees feel under-appreciated – True
or False? If they felt appreciated, just imagine the level of
performance that can be obtained.
6. Train, Train, Train: in tough times it is often
the variable expenses of marketing and training that are the first
to get cut. Maybe doing the opposite would be a better approach.
This is referred to this as “counter-intuitive marketing
strategies.” When the rest of world goes south, perhaps you should
go north. This might be a great time to resist the temptation to cut
training and instead increase your investment in this area.
Employees must be viewed as “an appreciating asset.” This
means that their ability to add value to customers must continuously
increase. Employees will work hard for companies that make an
investment in them, and training can be an inhibitor to turn over.
If you have higher turnover relative to competition you will have
lower customer satisfaction. Therefore, companies that have made an
investment in their employees just might have lower turnover, which
increases their customer satisfaction. Training can also be a magnet
to attract top talent in the marketplace. The best employees want to
work for organizations that will help them grow
7. Celebrate: Don’t wait until the end of month or
the end of the year to celebrate success. “Sweat the small stuff.”
Frequently hold gatherings of employees to celebrate the small wins.
This will not only recognize those people that are going the extra
mile, but encourage others to do the same. It is also focusing on
the positive versus negative. Focusing on the negative may only
lead to more bad news. Management behavior will need to change to
focus more on rewarding the behavior that you want. “What gets
rewarded gets done” is an axiom that has been around a long time.
When looking at
the above seven strategies to motivate employees in tough times
it should be evident that the biggest change must be in management
behavior. If management doesn’t change its behavior, what are the
odds the employees are going to change theirs? Whose behavior do
you have a better chance of changing, yours or someone else’s? The
answer is obvious. If you want your employees to go the extra mile
for the customer then go the extra mile for your employees. “There
is no traffic jam on the extra mile!” Get your employees out there
on the extra mile because it’s a lot of fun and you will reap the
Read other articles and learn more about
[This article is available at no-cost, on a non-exclusive basis.
Contact PR/PR at 407-299-6128 for details and