Unlike a new truck or tractor, a new employee does not arrive at your business fully primed and ready to go. It's up to you to work with new hires to develop their competence (skills) and self-confidence (belief in their ability to demonstrate those skills), says Don Tyler, a management consultant based in Clarks Hill, Ind.
With a young workforce in particular, there's low self-confidence, and it is easier to teach skills than confidence, he says. "You can help the process by telling your employees during training—and throughout their employment—that you've noticed their continued development."
Write is right. First, they must know what their job is, Tyler says. Put the following in writing:
• Job application form. When signed, this creates a level of accountability.
• Job description. This lets workers know what is expected when they're hired and going forward.
• Performance evaluation. This form also creates accountability and opens the door to a discussion of expectations and how the worker—and boss—is meeting them.
• Employee handbook. This is the place to outline company processes and expectations. It sets the business's tone for acceptable behaviors.
• Operating procedures. Checklists should outline how to operate and maintain equipment, how to store the planter and combine, and how to run the grain dryer, for example.
Inside their heads. Stay in tune with your employees so you will know which jobs interest them, which jobs they are good at, which skills they learn quickly, what motivates them, what their concerns are, and whether they are happy or dissatisfied at the end of the day.
"This doesn't mean that we always give them the same job, or only the jobs they like," Tyler says. "Rather, it means making certain that there are some parts of their job they can get satisfaction from and build their confidence and competence."
Trust is a two-way street. It is imperative that as you develop a working relationship with your employees, you let them know when they have done something that re-duces your trust in them. Tell them when you've noticed an inconsistency between what they said and what you saw happen, or when they exaggerate to make themselves look better. If they lie to you, they need to know that this cuts deeply into your respect for them and your willingness to trust them completely.
Key attributes you need
If you are going to have a positive influence on your employees, you need to possess some of these attributes, says management consultant Don Tyler.
• Have a positive attitude about your employees.
• Truly desire that they reach their full potential.
• Possess or develop the ability to listen to their ideas and concerns.
• Be able to understand another person's perspective.
• Identify your employees' real motivators.
• See the opportunity when adversity arises.
• Realize that when your employees succeed, everyone benefits—including your business.
To contact Jane Messenger, e-mail TopProducer@farmjournal.com.
Top Producer, March 2009