Meet Your Employees Where They Are For Better Results

I recently had a conversation with The Boss regarding one of his younger employees who was an underachiever. I asked if I could talk with the lad and see if I could help to motivate the young man to improve his work ethic. The Boss agreed and the conversation went something like this.

We were in the middle of March Madness and I asked if the young employee had ever played any sports. He said he was on the basketball team in high school. I asked what position he played, and he said he was the starting guard on the team. I then asked how his bracket was going. It was early in the tournament, and he said his bracket was blown up by Kentucky losing to St. Peter’s. I said mine too!

I said I was also a Badger fan, and they didn’t help my bracket by exiting as early as they did. We chatted sports for a while and eventually got down to the topics that needed to be addressed. I must say that I am partial to hiring athletes and folks who have been raised on a farm. Farmers understand the responsibility and hard work from young on. They also understand what it is to run a family business and the hardships that can go along with that lifestyle. I like hiring athletes because they know how to win and know how to get up and come back from adversity after a loss. They understand the value of teamwork and can take direction better than most.

During our conversation, the young man took responsibility for not putting out the amount of effort The Boss expected. He knew The Boss was not happy with him and he did try to give a few flimsy reasons for not working up to what we both knew was his full potential. Towards the end of the conversation, I said, “I want you to think back to when you were on the basketball team. If you put “C” level work into practice you were folding towels, if you put “B” work into practice you were sitting on the bench watching the other guys play, if you put “A” work in you were the starting guard on the team”.

I explained that his job was like being on the basketball team except that “B” and “C” efforts would get him off the team and look for another job. “A” effort would get him the respect of The Boss and who knows what opportunities that would bring. I then challenged him to put as much effort into his job as he did to get that starting position on the basketball team. He looked at me with a weak smile and said he totally understood.

We ended the conversation by giving each other our picks for the final four and away he went back to work. I explained our conversation to The Boss and asked him to watch the employee to see if there was any change in his effort. Days later when I spoke with The Boss again, he said he was more than pleasantly surprised that the young man was really trying and doing much better. The Boss and I had a conversation regarding gaining a rapport with his employees and meeting the younger generation where they are in life and with examples they can relate to. The Boss should always be looking for that “Win-Win” opportunity with the latest generation of workers. In today’s competitive work environment, we must try to retain our employees and coach them to the level we need them to be. The cost of attracting and retaining employees is high, especially when the supply is low, and demand is high.

If The Boss can meet his employees where they are and coach them to the level needed, the company has a better chance to improve efficiencies, lower direct labor costs, and ultimately achieve a high owner’s equity. Meeting your employees where they are and coaching them to their full potential is just good business.