Goals, Praise, Reprimand

Goals, Praise, Reprimand

Three simple rules can be a recipe for success in your parts operations.

Do people you work with not pull their own weight? Have you ever wondered why you do not know if the boss thinks you are doing well? Do you only hear about your job when you do something wrong?

We have all felt this way at one time or another. It’s not because we are insecure about our jobs. It’s because no news is good news to us. If the boss has not called and chewed on us for anything then everything is OK, right? So why is this happening? It’s because business gets in the way of practically everything else. Why should the boss be concerned with the right things going on around him when there are so many things not right? We focus on those things going wrong because they hinder our production and our pursuit of profits.

However, managers and business owners especially, need to realize this is a counterproductive way of getting the best from our team members. Baiting them to a mistake and hammering them down makes little to no sense if we are trying to get the best of our fellow team members. Let’s try some new approaches and see what happens. It will cost us nothing but a few sheets of paper and a little time.

In these difficult economic times, there are sure to be cutbacks in our businesses since payroll eats up, on average, 50 percent of our profits. With likely cutbacks in personnel, we will be looking to get more from those who are left. If we can get the full potential from ourselves, as managers, and the people we work with, we won’t need to worry so much about outside factors influencing our businesses.

We managers are only as good as those who work for us. Is it not our job to train those people for the job they are doing? We should take the time to cover a few simple rules that can be learned from a concept called “One Minute Manager.” This concept is illustrated in a book of the same name by Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson.
There are three simple rules but they can be complicated to master. You have to have the mindset to implement the program and get the people around you to participate. First you have to set “goals,” second you have to master “praisings,” and then the “reprimand.”

To start with, we must implement “Goals.” We have to set individual goals as well as a corporate goal for the entire team. To set these goals we have to start with ourselves. Yes, we have to set a written and definitive goal for ourselves first. We have to know what we are going to strive for and if it is not written down, then it becomes less than real. Therefore, write down that we want more production from our team members, for example. Goals don’t need to be complicated by they need to be written. There shouldn’t be more than five goals per person. But each person should have a written list of those goals and should be followed up with on a regular basis. Really, it should be every week. Then, at the same time, get the team together and cover the corporate goal you have set. If all is well, the individual goals will all lead up to and add up to the corporate goal.

“Praisings” for most will come a bit easier than the other points. But it’s a much overlooked aspect of our business. We spend a great deal of time making sure our customers know we appreciate them but overlook the second most valuable asset we have behind a loyal customer base. Those are our team members.

When we set the goals, they should be challenging to the team member. We are trying to bring more value to the team member and when their value is increased, we will certainly have to reward them in some way. That’s another topic that can be discussed at another time. But it has to be considered as it is the proverbial carrot dangled out there to give incentive for the team to reach out for.

Praise does not need to come when a job is done completely right. But it does need to come immediately upon discovering a team member doing something right. Do not make the mistake of letting it linger. Mistakes are made on a daily basis by anyone who does anything. So praise should come when the person does something nearly right? That’s correct.

We praise babies when they almost walk for the first time, do we not? Yes, they fall down but we must praise them and tell them they’re doing a great job and to try again. If we did not and criticized them, they might not ever try to walk again. Therefore, a basic rule of teaching is positive reinforcement. It does wonders for team morale.

But in praising a team member, we need to be specific about what we are praising. We don’t want the team member to think they’ve done exactly right if they were only close to doing right. Being specific is more important than praising, as it is part of the training process. We tell them, for instance, they did a great job moving the oil and organizing it on the shelves. But we really wanted all the 10w30 on one row and 10w40 just below that. But it is still great that they moved it to the section we wanted it in. Praising is very important as it will instill the confidence that we are not going to just critique the team, we are going to give credit where it is due.

The reprimand will be necessary over time. At times, we all struggle with goals and objectives. Progress usually is not easy. Reprimands are even more difficult as most people do not wish to have confrontation of any kind. And although the reprimand, is inevitable it does not have to be negative.

It can be a learning experience for all. To simplify a complicated process, we do not put the team member on the defensive. We say “let’s look over our goals. We need to go over a few things that we are lacking in and what we can do to fix them. To start with, it is not about you as a person, it is about the actions you have taken. You are a good person. But we still have to improve in certain key areas for our company to stay on track. But most of all you are an asset to the company and we value your presence here.” We do not have to make everything all warm and fuzzy but we do need to be firm to get the point across.

Maybe more important than anything though is that we must close the reprimand with a positive reinforcement. At the end of the reprimand, we should let the team member know we value them. Setting up the reprimand with the regular goal evaluation (weekly) will not work either as we must do it when it happens and not let it build up until we have a laundry list of things to jump on. This is when we will lose focus on doing it the correct way.

It all seems very easy, does it not? It’s very complicated in reality because every person has a different level of experience, maturity level and personality style. Therefore, setting goals will be different for each person. Remember to set realistic goals for them. Praise will come more easily but we must be specific with the praising as we do not want to mislead the team member into thinking what they have done is exactly right if it is not. The reprimand will be necessary as everyone makes mistakes from time to time and learning to turn the negative into a positive will be the challenge we have to face.

Because there are various styles in management, we will have to learn our style and adapt these beginning stages to our style. But it can be done with a bit of effort. Certainly, there is value in learning the “One Minute Manager” style.

If you are reading this and are not a member of the management team then, write your own goals, sit down with the manager and let them know your intention is to be a more valuable asset to the company and you would like to know what they are thinking. Certainly your manager will be impressed by your ambition and will be willing to teach you the things you desire to learn.

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