Several factors combine to determine the continuous success of a small contracting business, and one of these is the output quantity you’re managing. You need to be performing enough work to cover the expenses and compensation of your employees, and those who aren’t creating enough output will be looking for ways to increase business and meet this demand.
At QuickED, we’re happy to not only help contractors obtain their contractor license in Utah, but also to provide several resources for existing contractors, from continuing education courses and license renewal through assistance with day-to-day themes like this one. What are some general tips we offer to contractors who are struggling to create enough output and looking to make organic improvements? Here’s a primer.
Identify the Issue’s Roots
First and foremost, it’s important to take the time to figure out why you’re not meeting expectations. Sometimes, this can be a simple issue of setting the wrong goals or delegating tasks incorrectly. Other times, it could be an indication of systemic problems in your workflow and management.
Here are a few general examples of employee and managerial areas you should be considering when looking for the culprit in your slow business:
- Employee attendance and timeliness: Do your employees have a habit of coming in late or taking extended breaks and do you find yourself providing many excuses for this behavior? If so, an improvement in attendance and punctuality needs to be addressed head-on. Likewise, if your employees are unresponsive when notified of tasks, there may be issues with job training or communication that arises from poor delegation.
- Focus levels: If you find that your employees seem to be distracted and unfocused, this could also come down to mismanagement and lack of delegation. You need to make sure that each person knows what they should be doing at all times, and if there are specific projects or tasks that require more attention than others, it’s up to you to provide guidance.
- Task timing and additional support needs: If you find that specific tasks seem to take longer than they should or that employees lack the skills or understanding needed to complete certain projects, this could come down to an issue with job training and preparation. Your employees need to know what is expected of them.
- Interactions with other employees or subcontractors: In other cases, your issues may stem from the way your employees interact with one another. If there are many disagreements between staff members, or if you find that your employees are constantly frustrated by each other’s presence, this will translate to an unproductive work environment that will be difficult to maintain.
If you identify an employee having issues with just one or two of these areas, this can usually be dealt with through a firm conversation. However, if a particularly poor employee is exhibiting most or all of these issues at once, it’s worth considering whether they’re suitable for the job.
Work Through Realistic Solutions
Once you’ve identified the roots of the problem, you’re now in a position to resolve it. When considering potential resolutions for each employee or staff member, make sure that these are realistic and achievable. An employee who is constantly late likely isn’t going to change their behavior after one lecture; instead, they need to be aware of what’s expected of them daily at all times.
Likewise, simply telling an employee to complete tasks more quickly is unlikely to result in immediate results if they lack the skills or knowledge that are needed. You may need to provide training or coaching for them before you can expect improvement on this front.
In addition, you should have an idea of how you want these situations to be ideally resolved. Know your goals for your work environment, your employees, and their interactions with each other. This way, you can ensure clear, definitive improvement on all fronts.
Performance Improvement Plans
In some cases, whether for individual employees or the entire team (including yourself), creating a formal Performance Improvement Plan (or PIP) may be the best way to ensure that you see improvement. A PIP can help guide your employees toward specific goals, and if it’s structured correctly, they’ll have a clear understanding of what they need to do to meet these objectives.
When formulating your plan, make sure that you outline how the employee will be measured and how you’ll monitor their performance and progress. As a general rule, your PIP should take no more than 30 days to work through from start to finish, so try to keep it within this timeframe.
In cases where employees have been with you for a long time or enjoyed a great deal of success in the past, a PIP may be overly harsh or even insulting to them. In this case, you’ll likely want to work with your employee to develop a more suitable solution. If they’re still struggling after working on this for some time, however, it’s probably best to move toward termination.
Provide Continued Support
Even if a given employee is struggling with the suggestions you’ve made to them, you want them to know that you’re on their side. Provide them with support and training throughout the duration of their PIP, and try to come up with ideas that they can use to continue making progress without forcing them into a predetermined mold.
Sometimes employees fail to meet expectations because they’re simply in the wrong role, even if it’s not immediately apparent. If you find yourself providing Performance Improvement Plans for frequent problems like low output or low productivity, look at the individual and try to determine whether they’re comfortable in the role they’re currently filling. If you can swap them into a new position that suits their strengths and interests more effectively, it may be just what your company needs.
For more on improving employee productivity and output for your contracting business or learning about any of our related services we offer throughout Utah, speak to the staff at QuickED today.