Looking after your best people

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Struggling with tight margins and the challenges of getting enough customers and projects is one thing, but taking time to identify and nurture those team members who make a real strategic and operational difference may be the key to success.

I’m a strong proponent of finding these key players and looking at how you can encourage them and grow their potential through incentives such as remuneration, motivation and management.

Identifying key players

In general, the first performance measure to be applied is whether the employee is able to perform their job and manage their part of the project or assignment so it is on budget, problems are resolved as they occur and quality and safety standards are adhered to. But is that enough?

There are further questions to be asked:

Does the person identify smarter ways to do the project or assignment so margins are improved or tenders won?

• Do they work seamlessly with other trades so all components of the margin are maximised?

• Do they have the leadership qualities that bring the best out of the whole team?

• Do they have the ambassadorial qualities to represent the business to the outside world?

• Do they have a strategic grasp; the ability to define, implement and follow through the strategies that meet the business goals?

• What contacts and at what levels and quality does the person successfully manage, both within and outside the organisation? And most importantly…

• Are they a rainmaker – a person who identifies and successfully converts opportunities into profitable contracts?

These attributes are seldom all found in one person. To complicate matters, a person who is outstanding at one key attribute often has weaknesses or shortcomings in other areas. This is why it is challenging and the solutions complex.

Incentivising staff

Different strategies will apply to different people and positions. And remuneration is not the only way of motivating and rewarding the desired behaviours.

Clearly understanding the aspirations, future goals and motivators of the key staff will help you create a unique plan to get the best out of each person. There are many non-financial ways to help create motivation in the workplace such as:

• Encouraging employees to use their own judgement and to improvise) providing you have adequately trialed and delegated personnel in the first instance)

• As well as authority, give employees responsibility for the results

• Communicating goals clearly and ensuring employees are accountable

• Making work rules flexible so that individuals can tailor them to their needs

Sometimes this can be challenging as it may involves changing old habits such as moving from a 9-5 operation to flexible hours based on results. For the employer this requires faith and trust that your team understands the business vision and goals.

You may also want to offer personal incentives to cater for people’s individuality such as:

• Flexible hours

• Study Leave

• Paid courses (upfront with reimbursing over a ‘locked in period’)

• Internal and external training

• Preventative health incentives promoting wellness

Any plan must be closely monitored to ensure that it’s not only working, but that it involves all the right people and, most importantly, that it is achieving a better result for your organisation as a whole. Too often, actions for one person can create tension elsewhere.

Ultimately, everyone’s incentives need to be matched to the overall business objectives and reward performance that exceeds the basic requirements.

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Michelle Hill
Michelle Hill
Michelle Hill is advisory partner at BDO Rotorua and one of Rotorua’s leading business advisory coaches. Talk to Michelle and the team at BDO about how they can help you to achieve your business goals. Michelle can be reached on rotorua@bdo.co.nz or (07) 347 9087

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