In every company there are super-achievers, employees that work faster and better than their colleagues. To keep them happy there should be some reward system in place and in this installment of Leadership we'll focus on time.
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When your employee has, say, eight hours to finish the job and she's done in six hours, what to do with the remaining time? The question seems silly at the first sight and many will say "Jump on another task!" but that's not the right way to do if you want to keep the productivity at the highest level.
Let's be clear here: Anybody who responds to fast work with even more work is not thinking about their employees. For them the company is the only thing in focus and workers... well, it's on them to work what we tell them to, isn't it? Well, it isn't.
First, everybody has some limits when - no matter how willing we are to work all day long - can't be crossed. What's more, the closer we are to those limits, the lower our productivity is. Second, if somebody is good and fast, and do the job ahead of schedule, a natural thing would be to introduce some reward.
So, what to do with those two extra hours you great employees has? First, do not think about assigning more task because that leads to exactly one conclusion: "The more I work, the more work I got." And that leads to "OK, I will slow down." And this is not the best situation for you because you effectively told your worker that it's not very wise to be good and fast because she will be punished in a way with more work.
A wise thing to do would be to divide the extra time in half. Of those two hours you employee has on hand, one goes to the company, one to the employee. In other words, a new task is given but the employee may spend one hour on it and then do whatever she please with the remaining hour. She may decide to work more, to go home, or anything else at will.
But there is a more creative option. For that "your" one hour, assign your employee to another department to learn new things and see how the working day looks like from another perspective. You may also find an education and send your employee to fill the gaps or learn something new from experts outside the company.
While doing that, try to focus on different field of knowledge, for example soft skills, because being good and fast is excellent ground for becoming a new executive, so maybe you are looking at the next brilliant manager in your company.
Another idea that works well is leave the choice to your employee with just one request: the company must be involved in its one hour. That may be a charity work, developing of a new product, something else outside the company, field work, it doesn't matter as along as the company name is mentioned in the connection with it.
In return, don't be surprised if your employee spend all her time, two hours, on the company. That's the clear sign she appreciate your appreciation.
In any case, if your employee has some free time, don't just stick "Employee of the day" sticker on her and send her back to work because one day she'll stick "Boss of the month" and "I found the job at the competition" on you. ■