Bridge The Gap Between Employee Needs & Employer Expectations
Do You Lack The Tools & Resources To Do Your Job Effectively?
From time to time we survey business professionals regarding challenges they face. One of the most common responses is that they lack the tools & resources to do their jobs effectively. This struggle spans all job levels and departmental functions, and most definitely impacts your own organization, possibly starting with you. So what can you do to personally overcome this obstacle, and what can you as a manager or business leader do to proactively use this challenge as an opportunity to make a significant cultural improvement in your organization?
We all want to work effectively, but not everyone shares the same definition of an effective job performance. As a matter of fact, if you evaluate the root cause of limited resources, you’ll find that differing perspectives between management and employees is the primary reason resource requests are denied. This results in workplace frustration, poor moral, reduced productivity and declining financial performance. Then the cycle continues; investments in this declining environment are even less likely to be made.
By understanding both the Employee and Employer’s perspective of effective performance, you can:
- Create a communication plan to bridge the gap.
- Break the negative cycle.
- Get what you need to create the most effective work environment for yourself and your organization.
The Employee Perspective:
You are expected to achieve ridiculous targets without the necessary resources. You feel like you are working 24/7 without any support or tools. Your efforts are not appreciated, nor understood. You need to make investments in more people or upgraded equipment in order to reach objectives, but your requests are ignored. You are stuck spending your time compensating for broken systems, and lack of personnel, leaving you unable to bring the value you know that you can bring to the job. The constant question you ask is “Am I utilizing my skills to my full potential or spinning my wheels on non-value added tasks?”
Employees don’t always see past their own efforts; their desire to bring value is not always aligned with business objectives.
The Employer’s Perspective:
You have a plan and budget linked to your performance objectives. Maximizing your resources, both personnel and equipment is imperative to achieve your goals in revenue and profit. You rely on your team and organization to perform at its peak rate, ultimately raising the bar as you go until an investment needs to be made. The constant question you ask is “Are my resources, when functioning at peak performance, generating the financial results I need to grow the business?”
Employers don’t always see past the business’s existing potential because they are unaware of their true peak performance levels.
Employees and Employers don’t always do a good job of aligning their efforts because they react based on individual perspectives alone. Here in lies the gap that creates a point of frustration.
Being effective requires the proactive alignment of these two perspectives:
1) Full Utilization of an Individual’s Capabilities
2) Full Achievement of Business Performance Targets
When organizations seek to align the full utilization of employee capabilities with achieving business performance targets, change occurs. Resources are no longer requests, but requirements. Differing perspectives no longer exists because objectives and performance expectations are clear. And the negative cycle is replaced with an effective work environment: a collaborative investment in growth (employee output & employer input). So how do you go about seeking this alignment?
There are 4 actions you can take to create an effective work environment that both employees and employers will want to invest in.
1) Define Clear Objectives
Understanding clear objectives defines perceived value for individuals, teams & departments linked to overall business results. This clarity empowers employees to identify ‘value added’ efforts based on achieving goals.
- Employees will be less likely to feel they are spinning their wheels if those efforts are necessary to achieve targets. They may not like doing some of the work, but they will feel more accomplished and appreciated.
2) Quantify Peak Performance Investments
When you are able to define your strengths and those of your collective team, you can specify, and justify, the resources needed to enable those strengths to function at their peak performance. It is important to link performance improvements with financial results and report on peak performance initiatives as part of your regular dialog.
- Employers will want to make investments in resources they know will generate results aligned with business goals.
3) Maximize Work Efficiency
I wrote an article a while back titled ‘Work Efficiency Equation For Managers And High Performers’. The premise for work efficiency is to excel in six areas:
Speed + Accuracy + Foresight + Repeatability + Agility + Respect = An Efficient Employee or Manager
When work efficiency is defined, it can be achieved, much like defining objectives or financial targets. Create an expectation for work efficiency standards in your own work and amongst your team.
- By using our definition of ‘Efficiency’ as a work standard, employees will earn the confidence & respect they need to ensure their requests for resources are taken seriously.
4) Create Cultural Jargon for Individual & Organizational Effectiveness
It is important to educate yourself, your employees and your employer on the components of an effective work environment. Define terms such as the following:
“Value Added Investments” = Investments that will generate financial results exceeding current objectives and targets.
“Peak Performance Initiatives” = Key activities that can be linked directly to achieving business results, monitored and reported on a consistent basis.
“Peak Performance Investments” = Investments required to achieve current business objectives once employees and equipment are running at maximum efficiency.
“Maximum Work Efficiency” = Clear definition of an efficient Employee or Manager.
- The use of consistent terminology sets the expectation for action to be taken, and becomes part of your company culture.
Investments in equipment, personnel & other resources should be based on more than payback calculations alone. They should be justified by proving an increase in organizational effectiveness. This is what sets a business up for success.
If you are a business leader, you have the ability to set this progressive cultural transformation in your organization by educating people and following through on investment decisions that meet these criteria.
If you are an individual that lacks the tools & resources to do your job effectively, utilize the four actions defined in this article to position your request. By creating a case that bridges the gap between yourself and your employer, your request for resources will be approved. On the other hand, during the process of formulating your thoughts, you may come to the conclusion that there is more you can do to bring value and reach your peak performance with the resources you already have.
Here’s how to get started:
- Review your work efficiency and that your team members. What can be done to improve?
- Take a fresh look at your performance objectives and those of your team/organization. Are they aligned with company goals and financial targets?
- Are you going to achieve your targets? If not, why not? What additional resources do you need?
- Outline the jargon and definitions for effective investments; use this to educate your team.
- Review your investment requests within the new scope and determine which investments create an effective alignment between employee needs and employer objectives.
- Revisit past investment requests under the new parameters you have set. Do they make sense for your organization today?
Written by Lisa Woods, President Lisa Woods Consulting & Founder of ManagingAmericans.com
Lisa is a dynamic business leader & author located in Western New York with more than 20 years experience leading, managing and driving growth in the corporate world. Today she partners with business leaders to understand their vision, identify internal and external roadblocks, define a practical strategic path forward and guide a successful transformation. This work includes strategy definition & goal setting, organizational design, facilitating team buy-in, establishing visual metrics, internal and external research studies, business feasibility assessments, and investor insight into organizational strength, weakness & strategic opportunity. She helps business leaders drive growth & increase profits.
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