You certainly already know that consistent implementation of the assumed plans depends on the commitment of your employees. But many people keep thinking about how the efficiency of their actions can be improved. I already wrote about motivation and teamwork in the article: „You know less… the worse it will get– what a good manager should remember, part 1”, which is available HERE. Because the 3rd miniseries of „Manager’s Guide” concerns directly sales and employee onboarding, this is a perfect moment to elaborate on the topic of employee involvement in the action strategy of your language school.
In recent years, employees increasingly changed jobs and eagerly rotated between companies. Certainly, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on this trend, and as many people have lost their jobs, priorities have shifted. However, the present situation will not last forever, and I assume no school wants to have an employee willing to work for you only because they have no other option. Observing industry forums and groups, one can see that migration of this type is a gripe for many schools, which struggle with shortages, among others, of teachers. In statistical terms, older generations worked much longer for a single company. Younger ones are likely to change jobs once, or even several times a year. Why?
The feeling of security is the main factor here. However, with time this feeling started to change its meaning, by adjusting to the present situation on the market. It used to be related to the certainty of employment and salary, so people did their best to remain as long as possible in a single company. Today, the young generation thinks that if a given job does not meet their expectations, they can find a new one fast or perhaps change their career path altogether. How can this be prevented? First of all through the increased commitment of your employees.
What does our employees’ commitment consist of?
There are 6 factors contributing to the commitment level. Those are as follows:
- people – relations and the attitudes of the management board and workmates,
- work – tasks entrusted to employees, self-sufficiency and independence, available resources,
- opportunities – promotion, career path, self-development, and training,
- organization culture – company policy, values it represents and reputation,
- life quality – rules, work hours and conditions, work-life balance,
- remuneration – salary, type of contract, benefits, recognition.
The role of a language school manager consists mainly of the resolution of problems, which entails significant stress. We also encounter frequent situations where managers do not express satisfaction with the team’s work because they think this would be a sign of their weakness or simply treat such situation as something to be taken for granted. However, it turns out that a decline in effectiveness follows from lack of praise and not from its surplus. If the atmosphere is strained and employees feel constant pressure, this is a direct path towards a situation where money becomes the main motivator and in the long run money is the weakest and least effective motivation. You can deal with this issue by highlighting the successes resulting from the team’s work on a given problem. Owing to such an attitude, you not only provide your employees with resources for coping with difficulties, but you also increase their feeling of agency. In the long run, this helps to emancipate employees to solve problems on their own that do not require your involvement. This is an advantage for both sides.
How to build commitment?
It is worthwhile to start building the commitment already at the recruitment stage. Sounds offbeat, doesn’t it? This concerns nothing else but the proper matching of future employees and their skills to the job positions and goals of your school. Take into account the character, motivation, and interests of a given person in relation to the specifics of the performed work. I am aware this is not an easy task, but it is better to extend the recruitment process in time than hire the wrong person. In the latter case, you lose twice, or even thrice, as you lose time, money, and not infrequently also an employee. By doing and becoming committed to tasks they really like – even if such tasks seem monotonous and difficult to you – people go the extra mile.
Increase the competencies
Sometimes you are simply afraid to transfer responsibilities and grant authority to employees, most likely because this does not relieve you of responsibility for their actions, and at the same time you have a feeling you give up part of the control to someone else. However, by increasing the decision-making powers of employees, you contribute to their commitment. If you make the right match between a task and an employee, their feeling of responsibility will make them do their best not to fail your trust. And this is not the only advantage.
Here, I will use a true-life example. Let us assume, the secretariat/salesman is contacted by a potential student. After a long conversation, such a person is virtually convinced she/he wants to sign up for a language course but wants to negotiate a discount. What do they most frequently hear? „I do not have such competencies, I need to talk to the owner”. This leads to an extension of the sales process’s time (we know from the previous article, this is no good) and frustration for all parties. The customer has to wait for core pieces of information; the employee loses the feeling of decision-making power, and you are under an impression you have to deal with everything on your own. It is worthwhile to anticipate such type of situations in advance and take them into account in the sales scenario being developed. I can guarantee this is going to greatly improve the service quality in your school.
Enable creation of the job position and place of work
By enabling employees an impact on the course of their work, you allow them to identify with their roles in your language school. Owing to the fact they are the closest to a student and the entire sales process and post-sale support, they know well the emerging problems and difficulties. It is worthwhile to listen to their comments and take into account the ideas they share with you.
Motivate for reflection over the undertaken actions
In this case, there is an increasing talk of Kaizen philosophy. It can be translated as a change for the better, and in business, it refers to constant improvements in processes’ functionality. But here, instead of definitions and assumptions, we are going to focus on the core message, which states that you should motivate your employees for reflection and analysis of their actions. Owing to this, at an early stage you will be able to determine which actions bring about the intended results, and which ones need to be changed. This also contributes to creativity, the emergence of new ideas, and the introduction of improvements.
Make joint decisions
Certainly, not everything can be consulted with employees, as this may translate into an extension of the decision-making process, and as owners, you also need to have some room for the pursuance of your own goals. However, I am encouraging you to involve your employees in setting the goals and making decisions contributing to the school’s development. By taking the opinions of employees into account, you will improve their commitment and make them feel part of the team. It is also worthwhile to involve the entire team in search of methods that improve work.
When you are certain you adopted the right goals and methods of action, give yourselves and your employees time. Sometimes it takes as many as 21 working days (approximately 3 months), for a given change to become consolidated in your employees. Also, remember to justify the decision being made; this first of all enable the team to prepare accordingly.
Commitment building is not only about strategy planning, but first and foremost about human resources management culture. It should be mainly based on a conviction that your team is self-sufficient, creative, and wants to be involved in company development.