As with a lot of things in life, work can be seen from many different angles. By extension, this provides organizations with several approaches to assess how valuable their members are individually and collectively. This can affect certain decisions, such as whether to promote them or give them a pay raise.
The thing is, a lot of the approaches or angles that are still in use today are woefully outdated and can hinder you from discovering the true value of your workers. Changing these perspectives can help you get a more realistic pulse on how important your people are as assets to your organization. And when you know how valuable they are and treat them accordingly, you’re more likely to retain them.
So what are these perspectives that you can change to better understand the value of your workers? Each week we will examine one of them and tell you all about how to turn these blind spots into vantage points.
TO: Actual capacity
It’s easy to form a habit of assuming you know exactly how much work your people can handle.
Being around them, and witnessing their performance and output delivered, can give you a sense of what they can accomplish on any given day.
This is, however, a misguided line of thinking that can disrupt the flow of their process.
You may be tempted to require them to perform up to a certain standard, based on how strong you think their capabilities are. You might impose a deadline that you think is reasonable enough. Or you could impose a quota that seems justifiable from your perspective. And you could expect your people to meet these requirements as efficiently and exactly as possible.
But when they don’t, you see this as a failure to perform up to an arbitrary standard.
The reality is, perceived employee performance is the opposite of arbitrary. It’s based on a number of identifiable and observable factors.
The foremost factor that influences how your people’s abilities are perceived is their self-evaluation. The best professionals are capable of recognizing their capabilities and limitations, and when to expand their horizons.
Don’t be worried if your employees are honest about what they can or can’t do. It’s their way of steering their team or the whole organization away from unnecessary and unrealistic risk.
When they tell you that they need a longer project lead time than what you stipulated, listen to their justifications. They can see how the execution of the task will be affected by an inappropriate deadline, especially in terms of quality. The same goes for output volume or other goals; forcing your people to exceed their capacity without considering their familiarity with their own process will lead to dissatisfactory results which are, technically, not their fault.
Indeed, you should be more worried about employees who just agree with every request without considering how their actual capacity aligns with what is being asked. They focus more on being “pleasers”, instead of being smart and realistic about accomplishing what you need them to do.
Being so sure that you know your people’s process better than they do is not the way to appreciate and maximize their value. Let them define their own boundaries, and trust in their judgment.
Even if you were once in their position, it doesn’t mean that nothing has changed. Processes can be affected by new technology, business methodologies and the like. Not to mention that you and your employees are different people, with different approaches to the same task.
Besides, having an accurate picture of what your people can do not only protects you from disappointment; it also gives you a solid base for helping them when they actually start pushing their boundaries on their own.