“How do I get my staff to finish the loose ends on a job so I don’t have to?”
“How do I get my team to remember all the steps they need to take on a procedure?”
“How do I get my staff to put all the tools and boxes away at the end of a day?”
These are all questions I’ve heard from small business owners over the past few weeks.
The answer is simple:
Stop doing it for them.
I said simple, not easy.
Chances are that if you’re reading this, you’re a business with protocols and checklists, or at least someone who wants that level of consistent quality in their business. When it doesn’t happen, it’s frustrating and just grates on your nerves. I hear “why don’t they care enough to do the job well?” We sometimes take it personally, or think that our employees don’t care. As with so many things, though, it comes back to us: we pick up the pieces at the end of the day, we tie up the loose ends, so why would our employees think that it’s their responsibility? Yep, you created the practice and you need to dismantle it if you want your staff to work independently without constant reminders and reinforcement.
To change a protocol, wanted or unwanted, you start with communication. If you want your staff to do something differently, don’t assume that they can read your mind (sound familiar?); you need to tell them what needs to change and how it will change. Think of it as if you’re playing a board game and you want to change the rules; you’d have to tell everyone what the new rules are, right? Same is true in the workplace. New rules, new protocols, new responsibilities. Be culpable, recognize to your staff that you let this happen, and that you take responsibility for how things have been done in the past. Finally, remember that habits are tough to change and it may take time. Your staff is not deliberately ignoring your request (if they are, that’s another conversation we need to have!), they have just developed a habit and it may take time to adopt a new habit. Be patient and keep the communication going as your team’s behavior (and your own) slowly changes.
By the way, the solution works for another age-old question, one I heard just this morning: “How do I get my kids to pick up their laundry?” Stop doing it for them. Like I said, simple, but not easy.