Q.How do I keep my employees' "eyes on the ball" during summer months? They start wandering off early Friday afternoon, after spending the morning making weekend plans on the phone and through emails. They come in late Monday, too tired from all those activities to do much work. Every weeknight they're off to meet someone, watch the kids play Little League, or something else that has nothing to do with this company. Yet I'm expected to keep paying their salaries quietly as if I don't know what's going on. Should I have a meeting and just tell them things have to change?
Ans. A meeting is an excellent starting place. But you should be building a team, and that means you ask them what they believe is the best way to change their behavior. When they finished giving their suggestions, you present some new rules. These may include saying that the workweek extends to end of day Friday and people may be docked for leaving without good reason. Ditto for Monday morning. You already should have a rule about using phones and emails for extended personal use. If not, start one. Tom Hall, co-author with Wally Bock of "Ruthless Focus: How to Use Key Core Strategies to Grow Your Business" (Dog Ear Publishing, soft cover, $19.95; hard cover $32.95) adds that summer can be a great time to focus on developing fresh ideas. One way is to hold an organization-wide contest. Ask everyone to submit their bright ideas for the company and a plan for implementation, he suggests. Motivate them to give you their best effort by offering the winner an extra day of vacation or a Friday off.