OD Chatter: Motivating Employees When The Boss Is Away

Keeping teams motivated when supervisors are not in sight can sometimes feel like an impossible task.

Dear OD Chatter,

My guys are great when I am on the construction site, they are on top of everything to the point where they notice things that can cause future problems and try to fix it now. That’s when I’m on site, when I am not on site project time-lines expand eating up the profit margin causing me to lose money on some jobs. I don’t know how to turn this around and I need ideas NOW! HELP!!

Signed, In business – for now…

West Chester, PA

Dear In business – for now…,

Keeping a team motivated when you are not in sight can sometimes feel like an impossible task. One of the many ways to have productivity levels remain the same even when you are not personally present is to create a culture of accountability.

It starts by creating and sharing a vivid vision for your employees of where you are taking the company and letting them know how they will benefit personally. We have an acronym in leadership: WIIFM that stands for “What’s In It For Me”. When your employees know what they can gain, their attention will greatly increase!

Another method is to create supervisory levels so that someone is present, even when you can’t be, to answer questions, resolve problems out of the ordinary, and to generally manage the project. This may necessitate increasing your fees if adding a supervisor or manager’s salary is not already in your budget. This is not just about money, it is also about delegating authority to an employee so they have the power to make decisions in your absence.

My final suggestion is to create an incentive for your team to produce quality work, on time, and on budget. Incentives can be in the form of group parties, gift checks, bonuses, and even buying power through your established vendors. Be creative and think outside of the box.

What ever you decide to do I would begin by sitting your whole team down to share the disappointing facts. Then open the discussion to their ideas of how to avoid these problems moving forward and really listen to what they have to say.

By giving your employees a voice and engaging them in finding a resolution to the problem verses dictating a new set of policies upon them, you will gain a more committed set of employees.

Thank you for sending us your workplace questions!

OD Chatter

OD Chatter is written by Debra Dee Bradford, CHRO of ODL Business Partners, Inc. (www.odlbp.com) an HR consulting firm specializing in organizational development and leadership training. She can be reached at dbradford@odlbp.com. Or, send your workplace related questions to OD Chatter at marlenab@odlbp.com.

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