A lot of people contact our law firm about hiring employees. They often want help with contracts, or developing employee handbooks because they've never dealt with those things before. However, most of our clients don't realize that there is a whole universe of employee-related issues they don't know about or have experience with.
We've all worked for a really terrible boss or manager, but few of us have an understanding of working for a great boss. We don't understand the leadership and management techniques that make a great boss because they were never taught in school, and haven't had a lot of exposure to great bosses in the workplace. Odds are, we've never really experienced it in the workplace. Even if you've had a great boss, you probably don't understand what happened behind the scenes to make that a reality. What was it, really, that made that boss great?
Too many business owners think they can manage based solely on legal approaches, in other words, they think they can dictate an employee's behavior with a contract or an employee handbook and they miss an opportunity to allow employees to thrive by truly leading and managing
An employee handbook should be a reflection of a company's culture and should be a tool to manage the expectations of both employees and employers. There's plenty of boilerplate that goes into an employee handbook. The 10 % to 20% of every handbook that is customized to each situation can make a world of a difference. But even the best employee handbook or perfectly drafted employment agreement can be ineffective without proper management techniques. So what makes a company a great place to work?
Were the employees looking forward to driving in on Monday morning?, or logging on to zoom for that first meeting of the week? Many business owners don't understand that often their interests are not aligned with their employee's interests. A business owner is often concerned with bringing in enough money to make payroll and managing the company's online reputation and making sure that clients are happy. Employees are concerned with making sure their paycheck doesn't bounce, they have adequate childcare, and that their spouse or significant other is handling his or her responsibilities around the house. Most employees aren't giving a second thought to that one-star Google review that the company got yesterday.
Successful companies will take these seemingly divergent interests and align them. A successful boss will understand what makes his or her people tick. He or she will understand their motives and their desires and he or she will make sure that they are aligned with the company's goals. What does this look like in real life to properly manage employees? Every role should have key performance indicators. Every employee should have at least one number for which they are responsible and over which they have control.
For example, a salesperson may receive a base salary. However, if they meet certain metrics that align with the company's goals they may receive additional compensation in the form of a bonus, additional time off, or some other sort of reward or recognition from the company. In that case, it's important to understand what motivates an employee. Sometimes a bonus of $50, or $500, or $5,000 may not be enough to motivate an employee when all they want is a three-day weekend to spend more time with their family. Managers need to understand what it is their employees are looking for, and have that discussion. Companies also need to tie those motives and desires to the company goals.
Again, using the example of a salesperson, perhaps the company wants the salesperson to meet a certain revenue mark or to have a certain conversion rate. That gets measured over time by tracking the number of sales consultations with the number of customers that sign on the dotted line. It is important to make sure that employees feel empowered and that they know it is possible to reach the goals.
For example, a salesperson who is required to maintain a 50% conversion rate may feel like that goal is impossible if most of the leads that come into the business are not qualified.This is going to be a very individualized conversation with every employee.They need to understand what the goal is and why it is important to the company. They need to believe that the goal is possible. And the goal needs to be tied towards some sort of reward that is meaningful to the employee. This type of approach keeps employees engaged and helps the company achieve its measure of success. So long as these numbers and these metrics are monitored and managed. Once the company is clear on its own goals and is clear on the employee's goals, it can make sense to put a contract into place. And to roll out an employee handbook containing the company's policies and procedures.
It is also important to understand that this is not a one-time conversation. As a company grows, its policies and procedures and its employee handbook will need to adapt as employees go through the stages of their life, such as getting married or having children or maybe even starting their own business on the side. Their goals and dreams and aspirations may change. Employers and employees should make sure that they maintain an ongoing open dialogue about what is important.