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Managing To Get The Very Best From Your People

Workforce alignment requires that you have the right types of people, in the right places at the right times, doing the right things right.  We will discuss how to get your employees in the right places at the right times by managing them effectively.

We know that we need to convey a better understanding of our business needs by defining and communicating our long-term company strategy and plan to our employees and that we need to recruit for the person-future fit, aligning our hiring strategies to our long-term business strategy.

But how do we manage our employees better to become more productive and our business more profitable? Researchers at the Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies at Cornell University in 2005 found that two related practices assist in this process – formal processes and procedures and professional standards.

Provide a written understanding of role

More often than not experience shows that the smart way to manage is to provide employees a written understanding of their job duties and responsibilities – job descriptions and descriptions of how the work they are charged with performing is done – formal processes and procedures.

  • All too often, in my experience, businesses do not have a written set of job duties for their employees – job descriptions – that contain the essential responsibilities of the job and which also outline the requisite knowledge, skills, and abilities required to effectively perform the job.
  • In these instances when I speak with employees about their roles and how these roles relate to the overall goals of the business I often find that employees may not understand a company’s strategy nor how their role and function fits to fulfill that strategy.  As a result they will not perform to their full potential – they are less productive and less effective.  Role confusion anyone?

Play to their strengths

Additionally, we may also place employees into job roles that do not utilize their natural talents – their strengths and capabilities.  Instead, we may ask them to perform functions that ask them to rely on their weaknesses.

The work may get done, but it may not get done as well as it could otherwise.  In situations as this I have found it may be more advantageous to shift the job functions to rely more on an employee’s strengths.

Once employees have specific information about their duties and responsibilities and they understand the company’s business strategy and focus it becomes important that we enable professional standards to ensure effective alignment.

Upon hiring most employees receive a certain level of training to become proficient in their job.  Provided that we have selected them correctly for their future potential and we have trained them effectively doesn’t it make sense that we should create an environment for the successful completion of their responsibilities?

Develop self enforcing employees

When developing performance evaluation and appraisal systems I often ask employees what standards they believe should be used to monitor their performance. Oftentimes the standards suggest a self-enforcing mechanism:

  • Employees want to be trusted to be able to know how to get the job done right.
  • They want to be able to innovate, experiment, be creative – they want the standards to enable that capability to be more successful.

Practical standards in this sense, then, suggest that the employer and employees work together to create meaningful performance standards that help foster greater productivity.  Combined with formal processes and procedures, you can then have the two effective practices to managing smart.

As you look at your business, ask yourself – are you using smart management practices?  How well is your workforce aligned for positive, long-term company growth? What can you do now to foster that alignment and increase your business growth?

“Image : business man and his team/Shutterstock

Warren runs The Executive Suite, providing leadership & executive coaching programs, professional recruitment, One Page Business Plans, and franchise coaching services to businesses. Located in Hyannis, MA Warren is expert at people management, helping business executives hire, manage, and motivate others smarter. . He serves as the Director of Coaching Programs for Innermetrix, Inc. He is accredited in a variety of assessment and coaching methods. He is an ardent advocate of innovation, creativity, and inspirational change in business in life.

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  • Hi Warren, welcome to Bloggertone! I really like what you have to say in this post, particularly your point around developing self en-forcing employees. The companies and managers that have this realization are also the ones that are the most successful 🙂  

  • Warren Rutherford

    Thanks Niall for your encouragement and support. More to come.

  • Anonymous

    Welcome to Bloggertone!

    Your suggestion to write a description of the role is something I suggest to my coaching clients frequently! If the leader can’t describe the role and the expectations, then how is the person supposed to perform? With a few of my clients, they were able to pull apart what they really needed and wanted and then hire or delegate to the best person(s).

  • Great first post Warren.  The job I did best in (when in paid employment) had a user’s manual with the job description, responsibilities and exceptions listed in it.  Every new person into that position was expected to update it as necessary so that when they moved on the person taking over could hit the ground running.  The really good thing about it was it played to our strengths and most of us moved upwards not downwards when we did move.

  • Culture breeds culture – when the value systems of organisation and employee are in congruence, then it’s a WIN/WIN and everyone gets a bite of the cake.
    Hi Warren, welcome to Bloggertone, and a great thought provoking first post.
    It’s kind of ironic that as a race, we can be our own worst critics, so it would make sense to allow employees set the standards (as long as values are in congruence). Those standards could end up being rather higher than the manager / organisation originally targeted. Just a thought 🙂

  • Managing your employees can be as simple as using time management software to ensure they check in on time, manage their holiday dates and allowance etc. You have made some valid points, and overall an interesting read.

  • Thanks for sharing Warren, enjoyed the post. I’m a big fan of manuals and everybody knowing their place and responsibilities with the company.  That said, I’ve also found that enabling people to step outside their role is fantastic for development and morale, not to mention beneficial to the company if this is managed properly.

  • ElliStGeorgeGodfrey


    I think it’s easy to overlook the cultural aspects given the long-standing relationship between the Irish and the Americans. Also, one of the things that is also overlooked is that each region of the US has its own “personality”. It’s worth taking the time to research business etiquette so you have the basics as well as keeping an open mind when you are actually communicating with the person you are networking with. A good place to begin is here

  • Super overview Elaine! In my opinion, the lone ranger needs to also have a guest posting & commenting strategy – if he or she is serious about growing their blog. Blogging in complete isolation is probably the least effective strategy to start with.

  • That’s an excellent pointer Niall, thanks for sharing. Isolation does not sound very social and collaborative, and a Lone Ranger’s blog will not be compromised using this strategy.

  • Thanks Marie,
    In fact your mix is a perfect example of how a blogger can achieve the best of both worlds. Again, it’s all down to what you want. Thanks for reading and sharing your view.

  • davidquaid

    That’s a great blog title and post. I think very few people well get to Seth Godin status, even locally, so I think the blogger community makes sense for most – possibly 90% – of bloggers, especially new to space.

    The biggest factor: as people gear up their content production, having a network like this might be the only way to maintain an audience.

  • davidquaid

    Indeed – but then if you’re going to venture into connecting with people offline from online, then TYB makes a good case for having a friendly group for your first meetup!

    Seth makes some good points about going viral and the value of thousands who enjoy reading soundbites but that is far different from a blogger for say a Health and Safety Business. I think ‘Zen of Tribal’ noise is the best summary I’ve read

    The chap with the 700k+ followers who wrote (humorously) that “Social Media is ******” muses that its best suited to Journalists and Comedians. Indeed, ‘content curation’ on facebook pages (imitating a Mashable or TechCrunch) to me is the worst form of engagement (if you had to introduce a sliding scale of subjective opinion). – but the ultimate is blogging for yourself – with or without others – your content should be king 🙂

  • Hi Tina,
    Great comments thanks – yes sometimes it can be a cat and mouse game, or perhaps chicken and egg – which should we attempt first, when starting off? The lone ranger can be very resourceful on his own, but being part of a posse has its advantages too

  • Well David, I am not sure if you are familiar with the TYB community, but I do believe it’s quite unique and very special as there is a very high level of participation behind the scenes, and we have been know to luncheon together also 🙂

    I think your final words say it all – content is king – still!
    There is no point in being an emperor – you may just end up with no clothes!

  • davidquaid

    Did I say content is King. Context is Emperor. Content is key — but without conduit its lost. Thats why TYB is so important – not because of content but because of conduit.

    Quality of content is determined by the user. Badly written without images is fine in many circumstances – like a forum.Whether content is King or not, its getting the right people to the content is the challenge.

  • and that indeed IS the challenge, I think I need more carrots!

  • Welcome to Tweak Your Biz Dylan. Scary to think 2014 is coming along so quickly but scarier still is the speed of new technology trends which we have to keep up with. I look forward to your next post

  • Sumita Das Dutta

    Thanks Niall for liking the post.In this web oriented age people fear to provide a hell lot of information and feels that it is intended to spy on them and flood their inbox with promotional messages. Organizations need to be smart to work around this.

  • Welcome to Tweak Your Biz Sumita and an excellent first post. Not being in the website design side of things I’d never thought of it but what you’ve said makes complete sense. I look forward to your next post.

  • Autumn

    Sounds silly, but I rarely consider the impact of color. Interesting thought of avoiding the color red on call to actions. Great tip!

  • Sumita Das Dutta

    Hi Wazir, Its great that my post have been helpful to you. Good luck with your site.

  • Sumita Das Dutta

    Thanks for liking the post. Yes you can avoid the color red in future, on calls to action.

  • Sumita Das Dutta

    Thanks for the appreciation Sian and will try to give my best shot in the next article as well.

  • Carla Frett

    Awesome tips Rutherford!!!

    What I have learned that to get more, its necessary to give more. More doesn’t means to be the monetary factor only, there are lots of other factors as well which influence the people in a much better way to extract much more out of them. Some tools and techniques as well are on demand to get the most out of your people.

    Just think for a moment, when ever there is a time management concerned for the employees, at times it happens that they get distracted with the same as its being managed by their own strategy. Every single individual have their own way of time management. But with some solution provided by the company itself helps them to be organized and stay updated at all sort. More over the same management also speaks up about the productivity as well.

    By profession I am a HR professional and I know better that how the employees can be convinced and influenced with the better time management. In our company we have been using the fully automated cloud based time tracking software from Replicon ( ) that works in a hassle free manner making the employees stay ahead with a better time tracking and manageability that helps them to deliver the work assigned to them in respective allocated time as well as to be punctual all the time. The end result of which is the better output from them that speaks up the way they have performed.

  • Jenny Brennan

    Thanks for including me Niall 🙂

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