At our recent Mastermind session, a question was put to the group around issues with employee management and, in particular, one individual who used to be a star performer but had recently gone off the boil.
A question like this is a battle cry for me as I have experienced it on a continual basis, either in my own businesses or with my clients.
So with flip chart pen in hand, I explained a simple concept I learned a while ago.
The response from the room was a stunned silence (in a good way) as it dawned on Member after Member as to how they have been creating the management problem in their own business.
Yes this was really their fault.
Following that Mastermind I was asked to present it at a few select meetings, culminating in Nigel suggesting that it would be a great topic for the National Event in September. This model is very relevant to any EC Member who currently has taken on staff.
Especially as a lot of EC’ers are about to take on their first member of staff via the Skillwise apprentice scheme.
So fresh off a plane from Spain, and simply equipped with a flip chart and my trusty pens, mixed with some cracking audience participation, we went through the Skill / Will Matrix.
I have since received this thoughtful feedback from Ash Taylor, which prompted me to share with you the main points of my session.
“I’m a great believer if you can hang 1½ hours presentation off one sheet of paper, you know it’s going to be good.”.
So take the time to refresh yourself, or if you are new to it, seek to learn more. It’s so simple yet seriously powerful because it is counter intuitive, which is why so many mangers/entrepreneurs get it wrong.
Skill / Will Matrix
In essence, managing people can be measured against two key criteria. Are they Willing and are they Able to do what is required in their role?
Now this revelation is not new or even original to my SCALE Model, or me, in fact I learned this type of concept a few years ago. OK it was 1996. My new knowledge was due to reading a series book around the One Minute Manager.
Whether you have one, tens or several hundred staff the principles of Skill / Will works every time. HOWEVER not how I was taught it from the books. It looked like it should work but it created more problems. So I recreated it to work from trial and error.
This Matrix helps you identify how equipped your staff are for their tasks/objectives (Skill), and how willing they are to perform those tasks (Will/Attitude).
Skill can include: experience with the task, educational background, knowledge and natural talents, competences and attainment of the 100%; the output of what they do.
Will is the extent to which they are self-motivated, their attitude, behaviour and feelings about their tasks.
Each box is collectively exhaustive and mutually exclusive, which means everybody will fit into one quadrant but only one quadrant (to simplify the explanation). To determine where someone would go there needs to be a definition of “what does 100% look like?”
The 100% is defined as what skills and behaviours we need the employee to be operating at. This is not an unfair requirement as they are paid 100% of their salary every month. Defining 100% also helps the employee understand, explicitly, what is required of their role and how that fits into the organisation. A 100%-er would naturally fit into the top right. So it goes without saying the objective of the manager / owner is to get everybody to top right. With me so far?
So let’s look at the type of employees that fit into each box. It is easier to illustrate:
As you can see bottom right is all about the want to but can’t, this is generally around the newness of the knowledge or skills required to deliver the 100%.
Top right is where you want everybody to be performing.
Top left is challenging as they can do what is required but don’t want to, for whatever reason.
Finally bottom left is don’t want and can’t. Not a great place to be.
At this point I suggest you draw your own four boxes and place any of your staff into the appropriate boxes. Yes, for once we can put people in a box!
OK, so now we have them in their correct boxes, so what? Well the goal is to move them all to the top right. The next diagram is the logical way to achieve this.
The general lifetime of an employee starts bottom left and does an anticlockwise loop.
The general strategies for managing employees in each box from the book I read all that time ago, were reward and recognise your 100% employees.
After all, you want your team in the top right box. Do more of the same to the top left; maybe give them extra projects, maybe some more responsibility to motivate them back to the right. Manage out the low performing employees and a collaborative approach for bottom right by telling them what you need and then giving them time to do it.
Simple eh? NO!! I tried that and it didn’t work!
It is the big trap that most managers, entrepreneurs fall into even though a lot of the business books tell you to do this, just Google Situational Leadership.
Let me ask you this. In a business from what box do you think most employees leave from? Well, in short, it is top right (I’ll explain later) and bottom left. But what is the most difficult box to manage? Yep, it is top left and here is why.
By rewarding people who are not willing, they realise quite quickly there is a game to be played.
They have the right skills and performance but wrong attitude but the business NEEDS them. Of course, the top right people can see that the time and rewards are being spent on the others so get frustrated, as they are the willing and able ones.
Their choice is simple; leave or move across to the left. The bottom right people look for role models who are getting the breaks and see that top left is the best place so emulate this behaviour.
The CORRECT thing to do is to focus efforts on top right and re-define 100% for the top left; give them nothing until their willingness moves across to the right. The reason employees generally stay in the top left box and frustrate the owners is due to there being no consequences. Anybody in this box must know that their stay will be short lived, either move right or else.
The other mistake owners make is by directing the bottom right employees and telling them how to do stuff. The simple trick with willing employees is to ASK. By asking, the answers are theirs and so is the buy in, but more importantly they may exceed your expectations.
There is a lot more to this Matrix which we share with you on the SCALE Training Course as it forms part of my SCALE Model. For those of you who have started to put this Matirx into place, we would love to hear your feedback and your experiences, so drop us a line at the EC or direct at [email protected]