Leadership, Management, Personal Development, Recruitment, Team

Train Your Team to Maximise Your Profit


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After you’ve recruited a really good new team member, you need to ensure that they perform well and stay in your business. There are a few things that you should ensure are in place for every employee:

– A clear job description and list of responsibilities
– Performance measures
– Measurable goals for the quarter and year
– A Personal Development Plan (PDP)
– Regular appraisals
– Annual review
A Clear job description and list of responsibilities

Every employee needs to have a written job description and a list of things for which they’re responsible. I would also include in this, or provide separately, a list of expected attitudes and behaviours, such as an attitude of teamwork – cover for people when they’re absent, work in proactive cooperation, etc. It’s important that ‘obvious’ things like this are stated clearly in writing.

Performance measures
It’s often surprising how few employees know what they need to do, in measurable ways, to be doing a good job. Ask your team members “what do you think you’d have to be doing, consistently, for me to say you were performing really well?”. Or you could ask “What would you have to do for me to WANT to give you a per rise?”. If anyone hesitates on either answer, they don’t know and are therefore not focused on performing well. Be specific on all their responsibilities. How quickly do you want the phone answered, how early do you want them in the office, how should they speak to customers, and so on. Make it clear and encourage them to perform well.

Measurable goals for the quarter and year
Most jobs break down into things that have to be done on-going – like answering the phone perhaps – and things which are shorter term objectives – like “get ten new clients this month” or “reduce delivery errors to under 1% by year end”. Everyone should have about one to five specific objectives to work on in a quarter, in addition to their regular work. Set agreed goals with measures and dates to report progress and a completion date, then review completion afterwards. Everyone responds to this kind of clarity and it provides more job satisfaction than just doing the regular job.

A Personal Development Plan (PDP)
Make it clear right from the start that you expect every team member to me working on developing their own knowledge and skills all the time. Be clear it’s their responsibility, although you will support them. Personally I wouldn’t even consider giving an annual pay rise to someone who can’t demonstrate any significant personal growth from year to year. Remember that it’s actually really difficult for a company to grow much faster than it’s team’s knowledge and ability. A PDP is a written document that usually identifies areas of improvement for a team member, lists actions to be taken and target dates, and records what development actually takes place.

Regular appraisals

This is one of the greatest failures of managers – they don’t hold reliable regular appraisals with their team members. As a result everyone plods along doing ‘stuff’ but the company and the team progress in an uncoordinated way with unclear goals and the company profits suffer. Be sure to hold appraisals with each team member on a weekly basis. Initially it could take an hour each, but after a few months it should be possible to achieve everything necessary within 15-30 minutes and skipping a week every now and again is fine. The things to be discussed are all the list above: Attitude and behaviour, measurable performance, progress on goals, and personal development.

Annual review
Every team member deserves a personal review once a year to let them know how they’re doing – ideally versus the goals they were set a year before – and to set new goals for the coming year. Most companies do an annual review and annual pay review at the same time. I recommend splitting these so that the appraisal is all about performance and goal setting. If a salary review is combined – all they want to hear is “how much”. By all means hold an annual pay review a month or two after and link it to performance, but keep them separate.

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3 Responses to Train Your Team to Maximise Your Profit

  1. But keeping the job description vague allows you to dismiss an employee when your business needs change. The fact that the job description was vague helps you claim that the employee did not perform the duties to your satisfaction. If the job description was clear and if performance criteria was clear the employee can take you to tribunal. If everything is sufficiently vague, the employee can not take you to tribunal.
    This has been my experience as a former employee and I think this is a standard practice.
    Many small business owners can not keep employees forever and most small businesses want an easy and cheap way to hire and fire people. They also don’t have time nor inclination to think through long term.
    What you are saying in this article is very relevant only when companies have long term vision, long term plans, want to remain in business.

    • robpickering says:

      Hi Vivek, thanks for commenting.

      I guess maybe we have a different attitude toward team members. I would never seek to build-in loopholes such that I could make a member of the team redundant. Whether or not what you suggest is common practice, I wouldn’t confuse common practice with good or best practice. I treat team members like I treat clients – in the way I would wish to be treated, and so that they return – ideally with a friend or two they’ve recommended.

      As for long-term goals and this only being relevant to companies that want to stay in business… yes, that’s the whole point, my assumption is that people reading these articles would like to stay in business (also to be highly profitable, provide good customer service, treat employees well, and enjoy it).

  2. Darren Dredge says:

    Well said Rob! We should always remember they are people not assets to do with as you please. I would suggest that this may have been common practise but it has no place in our modern more educated business environment, regardless of any obvious moral issues.

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