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Andrew Carnegie, probably the wealthiest man in the world at the turn of the 20th century was also famous for saying:

"Take away my people, but leave my factories, and soon grass will grow on the factory floors. Take away my factories, but leave my people, and soon we will have a new and better factory."

Show me a thriving small business, and I will assure you that there are quality people doing quality work who are enthusiastically signed on to the dream of the owner. On the other hand, if the employees don’t care, that is generally even more evident throughout the enterprise.

How can you effectively move your employees from their current attitudes and behaviors to a place where they will be the driving force in your success? Not surprisingly the answer starts with you.

Influencer in Chief

"Don't worry that children (employees) never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you." ~ Robert Fulghum

The number one influence on the behavior of your employees is your own personal performance. They are unlikely to exceed you in any way. If you do sloppy repair work, expect them to do so. If you are not excellent at customer service, not expect them to be outstanding either. In fact, my rule of thumb is that most employees will only be able to produce at a level of 70% of your skill sets. This is a common rule-of-thumb used in setting expectations for managers when making decisions about delegation of tasks or responsibilities. Imagine how much more important it is to consider in the expectations of handling normal day-to-day tasks.

For example, I cannot control my desk. It is a mess. Always has been. Probably not going to change it. In hiring dozens of middle managers over the years, many have claimed to be meticulous in maintaining their work station. However, after a few months under my leadership, their good habits faded.

Therefore, if you are hoping for fantastic sales, customer service, wrench turning, store cleanliness, and more from your employees, you’ll likely need to step up to the line and provide excellence in these areas as an example. Like me, you can choose to accept a lower standard for yourself, as long as you are willing to accept the consequences of that failing filtering down to your people.

Influencers in Your Midst

The second most likely source of influence in your shop is the other employees. They may be exerting positive influence through good energy, quality attitudes, and enthusiasm for the business and the sport. Or you could have one or more of the following:
  • Negative Norbert - Always talking down the shop, the customers, and the owner.
  • Slacker Silvio - A million ways to slow up the work and waste time
  • Shy Sally - Only waits on customers when they demand it
  • Attitudinal Andy - Why be happy when you can be depressed or angry
Get rid of these cancers. They will infect the shop. They may even effect your performance. Even in good economic times, there are plenty of solid employees looking for work. If one of those four sounds like you, consider another line of work. Companies run by individuals who have one of those four negative personalities have dramatically lowered potential.

On the other hand, you will do well to encourage, even reward, influencers who are providing a positive example. Generally this would be one of the criteria you would use to determine those who are going to manage others. Which brings us to the issue of rewards for any type of behavior you’d like to see repeated.

Clarity as Motivation

The best motivator in any human endeavor is clarity in knowing what is expected and what will be rewarded or punished. The opposite is also true. If you want a work force that lacking in motivation to succeed, keep them guessing about what you want and what will make you happy………………