By Michael Shebek
Author’s note: This article provides a framework and insight on how this author’s company successfully motivated its employees to accomplish company goals. Using ‘The Puzzle’ strategy discussed in this article, the author believes any company in the pool and hot tub industry can achieve the same results. This team-building exercise has kept (and continues to keep) everyone engaged, positive, and operating as one unit. This practical and simple approach can help set up a company-wide system to create measurable goals.
Every company has goals, but does every employee know what they are? More importantly, do they know how to measure and attain them? It is easy to determine the top-level goals, but it can be challenging to make sure every employee can state what they are at any moment of the day. It is also difficult to create measurable sub-goals that allow employees to actively contribute towards accomplishing the company’s top-level goals. The hardest part is figuring out how employees can be motivated to want to reach them.
It goes without saying, the industry is extremely seasonal. Once spring arrives, everyone works like crazy until the ground freezes (depending on where they are located, of course). As a result, it becomes difficult to keep everyone focused on the top-level goals. That said, if an employer gets creative, they can find a way.
For instance, it took this author’s company five months to develop a system that ultimately worked. Even if a business is not able to create a detailed plan before the season kicks into high gear, it is important to at least consider starting the process to ensure all employees remain focused on the goals when it gets busy in the summer.
First and foremost, it is important to be able to articulate the company’s top-level goals. Owners instinctively keep them at the forefront of their mind at all times. The question is, however, can all employees articulate a company’s top goals? For some businesses, the answer to this question is “probably not.”
In most cases, employees cannot communicate what they are about because many business owners have not taken the time to disclose them. Therefore, the first step is making sure everyone is on the same page. This can be achieved by taking the time to write down and formalize what the company’s top-level goals are for the next season. Then, make them official by sharing them with everyone in the company—whether there are five or 50 employees. It is surprising how empowering it can be when everyone is aware of what the company wants to achieve.
This formal process can include a short, once-a-month, company-wide meeting. Start the first meeting by asking everyone if they know what goals have been set. In some cases, it is likely the majority of employees will not be able to state all of the top goals. Therefore, making everyone cognizant of them is the first important step. In fact, it should be one of the company’s initial goals, as it is easy to measure and is attainable by all employees. Repeating the top goals at each subsequent meeting will likely make it clear to all employees by the third such gathering.
That said, being able to restate the company’s goals is not the same as knowing how to attain them. Therefore, the next challenge is to empower managers or lead employees to create sub-goals that allow each department to reach company targets. These sub-goals should be more tangible and attainable for each team member on a day-to-day basis. For example, if the goal is to improve customer service, the sub-goal for a retail store might be to answer all phone calls by the second ring, or not to put a customer on hold for more than one minute. For a service department, the sub-goal might be to fix every service request on the first visit for two straight weeks.