As a manager, one of your most important responsibilities is to ensure that your business improves to provide better service and support for customers. Because employees are an integral part of business performance, you can create a system of continuous improvement starting with them; as an added benefit, you can help increase motivation and job satisfaction.
Cross training provides a way for you to challenge your employees and stop them from becoming stagnant and, simultaneously, to increase the knowledge base and expertise in your company. By allowing employees to choose cross training areas that interest them, you can ensure that they will be motivated to grow beyond their current abilities. In addition, by providing staff with opportunities to learn about complementary areas, you can give them ways to look at their work from a different angle. You might also consider mentoring or paid education to help employees improve. With a more well-rounded staff, your business is better able to provide innovative solutions for clients.
One of the most important ways you can help your employees continue to improve their performance is to establish a system of regular feedback. During each quarter, observe your staff and take notes; at the end of each period, provide a detailed performance review to help them identify areas they can improve upon. Include praise in each review to reinforce positive behavior that helps the business. Make sure that feedback goes both ways. By taking your employees' suggestions seriously, you can let them know that they are a valued part of the company.
Employees can find it difficult to improve performance if they do not have the motivation. To help them stay engaged, reward great performance. You might provide profit sharing or performance-based bonuses to give them a tangible stake in the company's improvement. If you can't afford financial rewards, offer flex time or paid time off so staff can take care of personal issues instead of being pre-occupied with them at work. Don't underestimate the power of personal recognition, either: A simple, personal thank you from an executive can be more meaningful and motivational than a bonus.
For many employees, there comes a point where there is no more room for growth in a certain position. To avoid employees becoming bored and either quitting or getting lazy, create ways for them to advance within the company. You can offer new responsibilities, new job titles or transfers to new departments. When employees know that great performance leads to more money or a better position, they are more likely to improve their work accordingly.