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Inspiring Employee Performance

Inspiring Employee Performance

by November 18, 2014

Welcome the 21st century where the “you’re first, after me” movement is in full affect. Possessing a strong entrepreneurial spirit and a desire to be recognized for a job well-done are traits no longer associated with just Generation Y. Workforce motivation has changed and so have employee management styles. Companies want to inspire employees to perform toward profitability, but only a handful have mastered a workplace culture crucial to driving top-level performance.

So, what’s the secret? These companies often follow a Performance-Driven Workforce (PDW) model of doing business. The PDW model inspires high levels of employee performance through the strategic use of rewards and compensation. Not only does performance reward and inspire results, but it also empowers employees to achieve personal goals while recognizing them for their hard work.  Read on to learn my five tips for inspiring employee performance and achieving a successful PDW model.

Tip #1: Hiring Great People

A company IS its people. Businesses should start by seeking the right kind of talent to fill an open position. While positive incentives are a great tool for inspiring performance, seeking self-motivated employees is one of the most crucial steps in creating a PDW. Without this highly desirable trait, the whole system can come crashing down. Self-starters don’t need to be micromanaged and often lend their hardworking attitude to foster a productive work culture. They will do their job well without having to force supervisors into the unwelcomed role of office tyrant. Don’t be afraid to hire someone who may not check all your qualification boxes. If they are inspired to make an impact, they will have a strong desire to perform well.

It is imperative that leadership displays respect for employees – treating them as management’s client. When they feel like they are supported, employees in turn will treat the client well and have a stronger desire to perform. Rewarding productive employees with well-earned compensation is the catalyst for a successful PDW.

Tip #2: Defining Performance

Once a company has self-motivated employees it is extremely important that the entire team, leadership included, understand what is expected of them and the system. Clearly identify the definition of performance, how it is measured, and the rewards and consequences associated with particular levels of performance. Monitor and celebrate success, but also hold people accountable when they fall short. Like in any relationship, communication is key and employees cannot be expected to live up to expectations if they are not clearly defined.

Tip #3: Provide Motivation

Get creative with variable compensation, but make sure the rewards and consequences have real value or it will not succeed. A gift certificate to Starbucks is nice, but to inspire top performance, employers should tie a significant portion of compensation to results. After all, that is the real reason each of your team members rolls out of bed each morning and spends an average of 47 hours a week working.

For example, Decision Toolbox bases a meaningful portion of compensation on performance metrics, such as hire ratio, days to fill, client satisfaction, candidate satisfaction, number of sourced candidates, etc. We use those metrics to create an index score, and projects can be dependent on those scores.

At DT, we’ve noticed three positive results from this tactic:

  1. Recruiters are motivated to perform at a high level, so they can get more work — and more income.
  2. A recruiter with consistently low scores will find that the going gets rough and move on to a position they are better suited for.
  3. High-performing recruiters result in highly satisfied clients and repeat business for the company.

By giving employees a reason to delight the customer (because the “I say so” reasoning doesn’t cut it), you are organically integrating a culture driven by performance. Rewarding employees is not something that can be done once; it must be done consistently to maintain a great work atmosphere.

Tip #4: Provide Purpose

Wouldn’t it be nice if your employees truly enjoyed their jobs and weren’t just there to make ends meet? Employees desire a purpose beyond money to drive their performance. Knowing that their work is making a difference can inspire greatness from employees. The difference between a job and an opportunity is the difference between what you have to do and what you get to do. So ask yourself, why is my work important? What do I get to do each day? When you find your answer, share it with your employees and express the “why” of your company’s purpose.

If you have a clear mission, your team can rally behind it and feel good about what they do.

Tip #5: Track and Measure Performance

By putting in place monitoring procedures, leaders are granted the ability to observe employees without hovering over their shoulder. Employees don’t feel empowered or inspired if they are being micromanaged. Savvy business leaders recognize the correlation between culture and retention, and the effect that management’s role plays in this. Employee compensation can be based on performance metrics, such as hire ratio, days to fill, client satisfaction, candidate satisfaction, number of sourced candidates and other factors. Communicating expectations clearly and providing a path to success through self-monitoring is up to leadership to establish, along with the consequences and/or rewards for performing accordingly.

A company’s people are its greatest asset. While this is true for the service industry, it also applies to all businesses. If you value your assets, you need to value employees as well. The quality of service being provided will dramatically improve if employees feel valued. This, in turn, will increase the efficiency/cost effectiveness and employee retention. Happy employees equals a happy company.

About The Author
Kim Shepherd
Kim Shepherd joined Decision Toolbox as CEO in 2000. Today, she leads the 100% virtual organization by providing recruitment solutions, and focusing on the company’s growth strategy, through the development of partnerships and alliances and as an active member of the Los Angeles and Orange County human resources community. As a recognized thought leader by HR organizations nationwide, Kim regularly speaks on topics such as recruitment best practices, recruitment process outsourcing and virtual business. Kim authored The Bite Me School of Management, a book journaling her business journey, in which she shares her common sense solutions to business challenges. Kim is the recipient of the 2013 National Association of Women Business Owners Innovator of the Year Award and the 2014 Enterprising Women magazine’s Enterprising Women of the Year Award. She is an active philanthropist, serving as the board chair for Working Wardrobes, and is a member of Impact Giving. Follow Kim on Twitter @KimShepherd_DT. For more information, visit
  • Tonya Vann
    November 19, 2014 at 10:13 AM

    As a recruiter who works for Decision Toolbox I must say that Kim knows her stuff – Decision Toolbox is THE BEST place I’ve ever worked and I’ve worked for some great companies! Great article 🙂

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