L(E)arner Market Group

What is happening when employees slack off

Not too long ago I was sitting with a client, who we’ll call Tina for the sake of this story, discussing her plans for retirement. She was telling me that she wanted to retire in about five years, but had no idea how she could because the business would fall apart. She thought about selling, but figured no one would want to buy it, and she didn’t think her children were willing to take over either. We were briefly interrupted by Mimi, Tina’s bookkeeper. The client, Tina, was expecting a payment for some completed work and she had asked Mimi to find a courier who could pick up the check. Tina asked Mimi “how much would the courier charge” and reluctantly Mimi said “I don’t know, I’ll call back and ask.”  Tina became upset, she said “Now if she really had my back, she would just go pick it up” but from the tone of the conversation, it was clear that Mimi didn’t see that as a part of her responsibilities. Tina decided to ask me to write an accounting manual to help her employees follow the accounting process she had laid out. Now, I’m no accountant so I couldn’t accept the project in good conscience, but I outlined how we could work on the process and train the employees to increase performance. Unfortunately, the relationship with that client didn’t work out but her story illustrates a common problem for business owners and managers.

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Managers will often come to me, and complain that their employees do not perform up to par, to which I immediately reply “Do they know the process, and have they bought in to it?”

 Process and Buy-in are two of the most important drivers of business efficiency. Process is the step-by-step procedure that an employee must follow to complete a task. Buy-in is the employee’s belief in the process. Both are necessary for any company to operate efficiently and/or to reduce expenses. Yet, the failure to intentionally seek either is never citied as a reason for low performance.

Marcus Lemonis, of the CNBC show “The Profit” often uses the 3p’s model (People, Process and Product) to assess a company for investment. He believes that companies that make for a good investment have 2 out of the 3 intact. In Tina’s case she failed to invest properly in training for her staff and the creation of buy-in, which made Mimi feel alienated from her role. In Mimi’s mind, that check had nothing to do with her work, so she didn’t ask, because that was someone else’s job. Had she received the proper training and leadership in a way that creates buy-in I’m sure Mimi would perform with flying colors and Tina would have less of a problem trying to sell her business.