Are you in AWE of your Employees?

by : Jan B. King

Employers have become so concerned about seeming “unfair" or worse becoming the victims of lawsuits by unhappy ex-employees that they’ve stopped requiring minimum standards of employees. This can only lead to poor individual and eventually poor company performance. Your best employee performers will resent the fact that you use company money to pay people who aren’t up to standard and will reduce their own level of performance or leave.

Take back the power in your workplace and set standards of performance. How to fairly assess each of your employees? I use a simple three part measurement tool with the acronym AWE or Able – Willing – Engaged.

Is the Employee Able?

This is the minimum standard of employment or continued employment. Does the employee have the basic job skills? Does he or she also have the people skills to be able to work effectively? Does the employee have family or personal issues that make it impossible for the employee to work the expected hours? Does the employee have any emotional or physical health issues that make it impossible to do the job effectively? Is he or she lacking any problem attitudes, such as racism or sexism that make them unable to be open to customer or co-worker interactions.

If you answered “no" to any of these questions, you should move the employee to another job where the issues aren’t going to affect their competency or transition them out of the company.

Is the Employee Willing?

The next level up that is also a make or break issues – is the employee willing to do the work available? Does the employee seem happy to be at work? Does he or she genuinely care about the welfare of customers, co-worker, and the company in general? Does the employee get to work well-rested and prepared so that he or she is able to be fully present and concentrate? Does the employee gracefully take on assigned tasks? Does the employee arrive at meetings on time and prepared? Is the employee open to dialogue and answering questions related to his or her work?

If you answered “no" to any of these questions, there may be some resentments that have built up meaning that the employee can do the job, but isn’t willing to give 100%. This employee needs to have the opportunity to vent frustrations, get clear instructions on what is expected, and then have the opportunity to recommit to the work of the company. If the employee remains unwilling and hinders the work of others with a poor attitude, the employee should be transitioned out of the company.

Is the Employee Engaged?

This is the highest level of employee involvement and commitment. These are employees who are engaged in the work of the company take initiative. They are problem-solvers and actively work out work problems, including inter-personal problems. They actively seek feedback about their performance. These employees are natural leaders and will lead in a project whether or not they have a management title – other just seem to follow them because of their willingness to take risks or because of their demonstrated expertise. They also look outside the company for sources of good ideas and are always setting goals to take their own work to the next level. They like to learn and will look for opportunities to take on new tasks to learn new skills. These employees give 100% because they are motivated to do so internally.

It is only if a company gets in the way of superior performance that these employees will stop working at the highest level. If they become frustrated that management does not support their efforts to raise the performance bar in the company, they will disengage and eventually leave.

Final Comment

Employees who are not able to do the job shouldn’t be offered continued employment. If you can create open communications with employees who seem unwilling, you can often turn around their performance. Your best point of leverage is taking employees who are willing and helping them become employees who are engaged. The best way to do that is to have plenty of engaged employees around. Their work behavior can be infectious. And get out of the way of the engaged employees. They want room to run and will only leave if micromanaged or not allowed room to experiment with new ideas. Follow these few simple ideas and you will be in AWE of the contributions made by your employees to the prosperity of your business.