Positive Path Recommended Reading

Getting the most out of your people
By Karen Schmidt

People can make or break your business. The people you employ and the way you manage them can make the difference between business success and business failure.

The formula

The good news is that there is a formula you can follow to maximise the potential of your people. When you get the formula right you creative a positive, productive environment that everyone enjoys . . . staff turnover disappears, sick leave decreases and so does the amount of time you spend dealing with staffing issues.

So what is the formula for harnessing the power of your people? The formula is contained in the answers to 5 important questions:

1. How do I get people working at full capacity from day one?

Most organisations put a lot of time and effort into recruiting new people but forget the most important step of all . . . the induction. Induction is all about helping them find their feet. It is not simply a process of showing them to their desk, handing them the necessary keys and wishing them luck!

Induction needs to happen at 3 levels . . . organisational, departmental and job role. It also needs to happen in writing, not verbally! Design an effective employee handbook and spend some time keeping it up to date because it will be worth the effort.

2. Why do people lose their enthusiasm for work and how can I stop it happening?

Enthusiasm is a contagious disease that you hope everyone in your organisation catches. The enthusiasm of your staff also affects the enthusiasm of your customers, suppliers and others. But it’s hard to stay enthusiastic when you don’t know what you are doing or why you are doing it.

The answer here is to set clear objectives for everyone in your organisation . . . and I mean everyone, including the most junior staff and the temps and casuals. When people have clear objectives they have a sense of purpose and with a sense of purpose comes enthusiasm for the task.

3. What is a simple system for rewarding outstanding performers and encouraging others to be like them?

Do you really reward outstanding performers or do you actually punish them? If I worked for you and I completed my assigned tasks 1 hour early would you let me go home with full pay or would you make me go and help out someone who wasn’t working so hard.

A well designed performance review system should reward a combination of effort, efficiency and consistency. It should also be conducted on a regular basis and once a year is not what I would call regular.

4. What are some foolproof ways to motivate people?

Motivation is a personal thing . . . what motivates one person doesn’t motivate the next. Whilst it is true that we are all motivated by money to an extent it doesn’t completed solve the problem. I’m sure they are jobs that you wouldn’t do no matter how much money they paid you!

The starting point for motivation is to create a workplace that people find enjoyable to be in, whether it is the basic physical environment or the more complex cultural environment. Then you need to get to know the individual so you can tailor the motivation to suit their individual needs. For example, a recent survey has found that working parents (male or female) would prefer time off or flexible working hours rather than increased salary.


5. What is the secret to a smooth running, productive work environment?

This is probably the easiest question of all and the answer is . . . communication! Lack of communication is, in my opinion, the single biggest cause of unproductive staff. So how would you rate the internal communication in your organisation? Do you suffer from any of the following communication attitudes . . .

• What you don’t know won’t hurt you
• A bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing
• When I want your opinion I’ll give it to you
• Knowledge is power

Regular, effective communication is vital to the success of any business. When faced with no communication channel from management staff will start their own and it’s called the grapevine!


Getting the most out of your people is easy when you know the formula. All it takes is understanding the answers to 5 simple questions. Just imagine how much more productive and profitable your business could be if you could implement just some of these simple, cost effective ideas.

About the Author: Karen Schmidt is an award winning professional speaker, workshop leader and author who is on a mission to create fresh workplace attitudes that help people and organisations grow!. Karen believes you can increase productivity and bottom line results if your people have the right attitude in 5 key areas of: work, change, customers, people and managing. To find out more visit

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