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5 types of employees and how to manage them

5 types of employees (and how to manage them to their full potential)

Are you struggling to get the best possible performance out of your employees?

One of the best approaches to this issue is categorising employees by their unique characteristics, then tailor your support and expectations accordingly. In this article, we’ll explore five different types of employees and how to help them reach their full potential.

1. The high performer

Everyone loves a high performer. They’re dedicated, reliable, and deliver top-notch performance, often exceeding expectations.

Here are the three most important approaches to take when you hit the recruitment process jackpot and find one of these gems:

Provide challenging assignments: High performers thrive when challenged. Assigning them to jobs that test their abilities is the best way to engage them and encourage progression.

Offer growth opportunities: Of course, that progression has to lead somewhere, by definition. Make sure to offer training to fill any skills gaps so that the work they can do continues to expand. Ask them if they’re interested in moving into new areas.

Recognise their contributions: For those who go above and beyond, recognition is important. 

One word of caution: not all high performers are extroverts; some with more introverted personalities may be harder to identify if they find it difficult to draw attention to their achievements.

2. The creative thinker

One of the top transferable skills in the workplace is creative thinking. This kind of employee has a problem-solving mindset that can be valuable in various situations. Make sure to encourage them by:

Encouraging innovation: This needs buy-in from all levels, from junior staff to leadership. Place the concept of innovation front and centre, and you’ll soon find great ideas come rolling in.

Providing a supportive environment for new ideas: There needs to be a clear process for suggesting new ideas. It should be available to all employees and based on a collaborative philosophy. 

The other side of supporting new ideas is creating a space to develop and try them out. A vital aspect of this is that there should be no shame in failure.

Allow experimentation and risk-taking: Make it crystal clear that you don’t expect every idea to succeed. The generation of new ideas should be an end in itself. After all, to get the most out of a creative thinker, give them the freedom to think and take risks.

3. The team player

The old saying about there being no “I” in “team” was never really true. The best teams are collections of individuals who each bring different strengths to the table.

Promote collaboration: Since team players thrive on collaboration, make sure your organisation is set up to take advantage. Consider using an enterprise resource planning platform (ERP), so your employees can share real-time information across the entire business network. Tools like these maximise the efficiency of your processes, and because they empower teams to work together more effectively, they also boost productivity.

Facilitate team-building activities: Building a genuinely cohesive team can be a challenge. For one thing, you have no direct control over how well individual personalities will mix. Nevertheless, implementing the right team-building exercises can encourage teams to meld together.

Team building can be particularly challenging if you’re engaged in remote or hybrid work. In that scenario, you may need to get creative. One thing you can do is designate a timeslot for virtual coffee. Encourage team members to catch up for a chat online that’s not specifically work-related.

Recognise the contributions of the team as a whole: The team player derives a sense of achievement from the team’s overall effectiveness. So although it’s always worth commending outstanding individual effort, you should also recognise the team’s joint successes.

Managing the 5 types of employees

4. The new hire

We were all new hires once, and it’s good to remember that while onboarding them. Always start from a position of respect by implementing the following:

Provide a thorough onboarding process: The best way to make sure your new hire hits the ground running is to have a thorough onboarding process in place. Make sure your onboarding procedure is well-defined and that there is a clear point of contact for the new person to ask questions and learn. 

Set clear expectations: Setting clear expectations from the beginning is key to fostering an excellent working relationship. Start by establishing short- and medium-term goals and KPIs. Be specific. Explain how these will be measured and reviewed, as well as what happens next.

Provide feedback and support for their professional development: Support and training should be a high priority. As they settle into their new role, make sure they receive all the information needed to collaborate effectively with their colleagues across the organisation. 

They’ll also need useful feedback about their performance. Make sure this is specific and actionable, as that’s the best way to encourage your new hires to fully engage.

5. The underperformer

Underperformers pose a challenge, partly because they can act like a drag on their team but also because it’s not always clear why they’re underperforming in the first place. Here’s the best way of dealing with this tricky situation:

Identify root cause of performance issues: First, you need to identify why they’re underperforming. This can be a difficult conversation, particularly if the reasons are personal ones.

In this case, the first step is to talk to their line manager as they work with them closest they’re likely to be able to give some insight into the best way to proceed. 

On the other hand, they may simply have become disengaged from their work for more mundane reasons, like struggling to balance work and childcare duties. Here you could consider using cloud ERP systems, as a shared database across teams increases efficiency and eases time pressures. 

What’s more, this and other cloud-based systems can give your staff greater flexibility about when and where they work. Which helps to create a feeling of trust and appreciation for employees and their well-being.

Provide support and resources to address deficiencies: If they were performing well before, it’s perfectly possible that, with enough support, they’ll do so again. Obviously, you can’t fix a problem like a bereavement, but you can offer access to counselling or other resources to help your employee get back on track.

Set clear expectations for improvement: Give your underperformer very clear goals for improvement. Make sure they know exactly how these will be measured.

They likely feel that they have a blemish on their record, so it’s crucial to reassure them that as long as they engage in the process in good faith, they’ll have your full respect.

Empower your employees to reach their full potential

One of the biggest management challenges is getting the most out of all the diverse individuals who make up your team. With preparation and a little imagination, you can help everyone reach their full potential and deliver great results for your business.

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