In today’s rapidly growing competitive business environment, the pressure to have employees in the organization who are inspired as to give their very best in their work for the success of the company is very much needed now more than it has ever been. Indeed, the primary concern and a major challenge with the managers today is on crafting strategies that will get their employees giving their very best in their work.
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In an article titled engaging talent, Kaye and Jordan-Evans (2003) proclaim that, “the challenge today is not just retaining talented people, but fully engaging them, capturing their minds and hearts at each stage of their work lives”.
The very big question today that keeps bogging the minds of employers today is therefore, how do they improve the value of their employees work contribution? In this report, I explore the challenges employers encounter while trying to enhance the value of their employee’s work contribution to come up with formidable solutions that employers can use to make the most out of their employees.
There exists a lot of literature on human resource management and more specifically focusing on employee performance improvement. It is undoubtedly agreed by many scholars in the field of leadership and management that people are the most important assets within an organization.
In complete contrast to the older capitalistic view in management literature, the modern era regards people or employee as knowledge assets that without them the organization innovative capacity in terms of intelligently and innovatively utilizing other firm assets is very limited.
Whicker and Andrews (2004) in an article titled ‘HRM in the knowledge economy: realizing the potential’ portend that, knowledge based capabilities of a firms work force are the key ingredients to its attaining competitive advantage. The potential and capacity represented by the firm’s work force in terms of held tacit knowledge and innovative power are the primary features that distinguish one firm from another and the level of their successes thereof.
Given similar opportunities and equal resource capabilities, some firms are able to derive and achieve more simply because they are able to exploit and make full use of their human resource potentialities. Unlike other firm related assets, human resource asset are unique in that their contribution to the organization success depends on the techniques and practices put in place by the organization to exploit them. It is the role of management to not only ensure that they attract the best talent they can but also that they make sure that they make as much use of the available human resource capital at their disposal for the benefit of the organization.
While it is a daunting task for the organization to attract the best human resource capital it is even a much more daunting task to ensure that the organization achieves the best value from its human resource capital.
The question therefore that often begs some answers in an organizational set up is; how do employers improve the value of their employees work contribution to ensure they achieve as much value as possible for their organization? In answering this question, this report will focus on three areas.
Firstly, the report will focus on what is it that employees need to be fully motivated and committed to the success of their organization. Secondly, what are the possible hindrances that prevent organizations in creating such environments where employees feel empowered as to give their very best input in work? Third and finally, the report will focus on what needs to be done or changed in order to develop and create a high performing workforce.
Study design and methodology
The report employs basic literature search to look up on surveys and other previous studies done on the subject to recommend measures employers can use to address the issue. Most specifically, the study relies heavily in the Gallup polls and articles posted in the Gallup management journal concerning the topic at hand.
In a modern knowledge economy, every firm is keen to devise strategies to utilize and benefit from its highly regarded knowledge assets. According to Whicker & Andrews, the modern knowledge economy differs from the traditional capitalistic economy in that; Knowledge is highly regarded and recognized as a crucial factor to the success and ability to maintain competitive advantage by any organization.
Knowledge helps organizations to act proactively to challenges and opportunities that have been brought about by the rapid globalization and technological advancements. To be competitive and remain competitive, firms have been forced to be very innovative to stand out from the rest and remain ahead of others. According to Whickers and Andrews therefore, to do with and achieve this, firms have to invest in people resources to distinguish themselves in their business environment.
Identification, selection and hiring of the best brains and people who have the necessary skills to take the organization to the next level by its own are very inadequate. Employers must have a strategy to develop, use and continually enrich their useful knowledge assets to stay and remain relevant in the modern business environment.
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This is mostly achieved through the knowing learning and doing nexus. According to Whickers ad Andrews, people need space and motivation to fully utilize their skills. It is therefore the role of the human resource function to accord the necessary environment that enables people to think out of the box to solve new and complex challenges that the organization faces every day.
In addition, the organization must be able to continually develop its knowledge base so as to prepare it tackle challenges as they come including by facilitating training and development for its workforce. It is the role of HRM to tap into the rich knowledge resource base by providing the right kind of environment that both motivates and accentuates personal and organizational development without creating unnecessary limits.
HRM plays a crucial role in the knowledge economy in enhancing the value of knowledge. According to whickers and Andrews, skills and expertise within an organization are useless unless they are put into important and creative use. So, once the HR function of the organization identifies some crucial knowledge and expertise it is only fair that it be put into the right use otherwise it would be of no value to the organization and the individual holding that knowledge.
Whicker and Andrews further argue that, an organization must develop an adequate knowledge resource base in order to enhance its value. Since better results are achieved through interaction of different people with different skills and expertise, the value of knowledge within an organization is enhanced when an organization is able to acquire varied skills within its workforce. This can be achieved by training and development to ensure that people within the workforce acquire multiple skills and proper knowledge transfer between individuals working in the organization.
The HR function must also keep ensuring that knowledge risk is eliminated or minimized. Knowledge risk arises as a result of either underutilizing or either loss of knowledge by losing out on crucial and important people hard to replace. An organization must continuously motivate as well as monitor performance results by way of feedback mechanism to avoid on loss or underutilization of the firms important asset, knowledge.
These important factors include a shared vision, common objectives and values, motivation and a fair reward system and independence to allow individuals to take initiatives and greater autonomy. The vision is the most important factor if any organization is to achieve and manage to stay ahead of today’s highly competitive environment.
Many organizations and especially those that are business oriented do have a vision in writing but the extent to which same is communicated down the very bottom unit of the organization is another story all together. Managers and leaders of modern businesses ought to know that a vision is not vision by writing or simply imprinting in bold letters every word that is in the vision statement in every business paper or document. Rather, it is a mission by way of effective communication that gets everybody within the organization singing and reading from the same script. These yearns not just effective management but also strong leadership skills to deal and manage a diverse workforce.
Another important factor is the relevance of having common objectives and values. In fact these are the distinguishing features that are so eminently clear to distinguish between a volunteer based culture and the one that is not.
People need to identify what their objectives are in terms what they need to do, what they expect to achieve, for what reasons and how they are supposed to do it. In the absence of very clear and precise objectives which are understood and accepted by all it is very hard to establish such a level of commitment. In addition such goals and objectives should be owned by the individuals themselves and accepted as practicable. Third and most importantly, people need to feel appreciated and fairly rewarded of their efforts.
Mistakes employers make that contributes to poor job performance by employees
Most employers lay a lot of effort and attention in selecting and choosing who to hire. Some even go a step further to contract specialist human resource contractors to do the job who not only interview potential candidates but involve them in a series of selection procedures in order to ensure they get nothing short from the best.
Once this is done, employers are filled with lots of hope and somehow this is matched by great performance from successful candidates in the first periods this new employees get on the job. Suddenly as time goes by and the new employees get to learn more and get much experience working in the organization, instead of them improving performance and value to the organization their input starts declining.
Why is it so, does this mean that the new employees were just giving it all to the organization simply because they were so desperate to get a job and once they get it they start relaxing? The answer to this question is definitely no.
According to a study by Manzoni & Barsoux (1998) titled the set-up-to fail syndrome, employers could actually be the main cause to the decline in performance of their employees and therefore the real hindrances to their deriving full value of their human capital assets. Whereas according to the study in some instances bosses are right to blame poor performance on employees faults, in other cases it is actually the employers responsibility.
Typically employers will always take it all upon the employees fault and full responsibility that they failed and/or performed poorly in their tasks often associating it with them lacking the drive for results, lack of understanding or even their failure to take instructions or prioritize their work (Nohria, Groysberg & Lee, 2002). However, sometimes and probably much often in certain circumstances ‘an employee’s poor performance can be blamed largely on his boss’ (Manzoni & Barsoux, 1998).
In what (Manzoni & Barsoux, 1998) they call the set-up-to fail syndrome, employers gradually and unknowingly against their best intentions play a great deal in an employee’s failure. Many employers in a bid to discourage mistakes and underperformance end up dynamically creating an environment where any underperforming employee is condemned to be a failure therefore killing even the little motivation left for the employee to improve.
It all starts with an employee making a small mishap that leaves the employer questioning his performance. However, instead of the employer instilling the sense of confidence in the aability of the employee, he decides to closely monitor them as they work.
Sooner than later the employee comes to learn of the reduced confidence by his boss on his performance and he also starts doubting himself. To avoid further mishaps, the employee withholds any of his ideas and avoids making decisions from his own initiatives and instead routes for help and assistance in every decision.
The employer makes a further mistake by interpreting this kind of behavior as further proof of the employee tardiness and instills stricter controls killing completely any drive for self initiative remaining with the employee. The result of all this is that, in a bid to discourage underperformance the employer instead ends up unable to get the best from his employee.
Most studies that have explored the issue on what employers can do to enhance the value of their knowledge assets, all points on motivation and engagement. According to one such study, employees cannot be at their best productive capacity at work if they feel that they are not being fully utilized or give n roles to fulfill in their work and are not motivated.
Employers need to make their employees fully engaged, like their jobs and motivated so as to give their best and be most productive in their work (Waldroop & Butler, 2006). In a Gallup study in 2006 that sought to know whether feeling good by employees in the work place really matters, a couple of interesting findings related to the topic of productivity clearly came out.
According to the results of most of the respondents who were polled, it is the lack of motivation and feeling of disengagement that prevents employees from being happy at their works and hence to give their best for the organization.
To correct this and ensure that employees give their best shot in their jobs, employers should aim at creating a motivating environment and feeling of engagement to their employees. There are various ways in which this can be done.
Showing appreciation to employees on their positive contribution can greatly enhance their work contribution. Many employees fail to get satisfied and happy with their jobs if they feel that they are not being given the due recognition and appreciation of their good work.
In fact according to a study by Rath and Clifton (2007) in their work How Full is Your Bucket, they cite the lack of appreciation by employees from their employers as the number one reason why most of them will leave their jobs to look for greener pastures elsewhere.
It is therefore very important in bringing out the very best from employees that employers note the positive impact that appreciation of one’s own good work can do in m motivating them to even do better. There are various tactics that employers can use to show that they appreciate the good work done by their employees.
Firstly, employers need to be weary of anything from comments to actions that may negatively impact in the employees’ enjoyment of the job and motivation (Buckingham, 2005, Pp. 136; Thomas, 2009, Pp. 157). For instance, employers should actually take note of the instances they are forced to make negative comments or criticize their employee as opposed to when they actually show appreciation on a job well done.
Many employers make the mistake of letting go unnoticed employees show of good performance and instead focus on criticizing them when they make faults. This is bad for employee performance as earlier this is a recipe for set-up-to fail syndrome (Livingston, 1988).
should focus on such little things that makes employees feel good about their job like giving them a positive reinforcement when they have done well and not only when they have done a great job but also when they have shown any signs of improvement.
When appreciating employees it is not just good to do it but do it in the light like may be in front of other employees (Bruce & Pepitone, 1998; Connellan, 2003, Pp. 69). The essence of appreciation and reinforcement is to make employees feel important and proud of their job.
Another factor that is not only great for employees’ motivation and job satisfaction but also responsible for super performance is flexibility. Flexibility refers to giving employees more control over their work-life responsibilities. According to poll result, flexibility is highly correlated with employee engagement and job satisfaction.
There are certain tactics that employers can use in order to offer their employees as much flexibility as possible in their work and hence improve their productivity. Firstly, employers should be role models to work-life integration as this not only promotes flexibility but also enhances a culture that has great respect for both work and personal life.
The other thing that greatly affects performance of employees is the work environment. Any employer should aim at establishing an environment that motivates people to perform. A high performance work environment should be such that employees feel connected to the organization via what they do.
It is therefore important to communicate goals and clearly link them with the organizational purpose in a way that employees understand (Gabarro & Kotler, 1999; Goleman, 2001). It should be clearly articulated how every employee does contribute to the success of the organization.
Employers can use high expectations and regularly review goals in order to encourage success (Silverstein, 2007, Pp. 213). No employee should be isolated in anything instead employers should encourage team work and ensure that people have all the resources they require to perform their duties.
Last but not least, employers should continually ensure that they enhance the skills and knowledge of their employees through learning and growth opportunities. Employees are motivated to work extra hard if they have something that they are working for (Gallinsky, Bond & hill, 2004, Pp. 139).
Whwrw there’s room for upward movement in an organization, employees will always work hard and be productive to clinch that opportunity. As an employer, one should always provide ample opportunities for employees to learn by giving them new challenges.
As opposed to offering solutions, it is also good to prompt solutions from employees. This way, employees feel engaged and thus motivated to show what they’ve got and perform (Gostick & Elton, 2006, Pp. 83; Nicholson, 2003, Pp. 68).
In conclusion, it is very clear that employers have got a lot of space and capacity to drive performance in the people they manage. It is usually what talent an employer has got from his employees that, matters, but how effectively and efficiently they are able to fully exploit that talent.
In today’s world driven by rapid innovation and globalization, many of the most successful companies are those that have been able to fully get their employees committed to them. It is therefore most imperative that, as an employer you ensure to get the best from employees through motivation and full engagement.
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