One of the most challenging tasks managers face is filling those entry-level positions that pay not much more than minimum wage. Turnover is typically high as entry-level, low wage positions are considered “stepping stones” for some, and for others, it is nothing more than a way to earn a little cash. Yet these positions are quite important, as these are the people who are the first to touch customers. They are employees working the floors, they are the ones who answer your phone every day, they take orders from customers and also perform a variety of other critical tasks that need to be done.
As these are typically lower paying jobs, it’s difficult to instill a sense of commitment and loyalty into the employees who fill them. Also consider that if, and when they get tired or “fed up” with their managers or rude customers, there is a greater risk of them either quitting, or worse, biting back. Where many leaders place unrelenting focus on developing and nurturing employees in sales, management, operations, human resources, etc., not as much consideration is given to those who are on the front line interacting with customers. And that’s a problem.
Although it is not economically feasible to pay entry-level employees higher hourly-wages, there are four things company leaders can do to keep these employees engaged, motivated and committed:
- Managers must keep in mind that everyone has needs, and his or her employees are most interested in getting their needs met. Needs typically include a flexible schedule, more hours (for more money) and supportive managers. If their needs cannot be met, they at least need to know that their manager is trying his or her best to accommodate. The minute they hear “too bad, you gotta work or you can leave”, their frustration will be taken out on every customer for the rest of the day and their attitude will infect everyone around them.
- Manager must remember that everyone wants to be heard. Nothing frustrates employees more than being overlooked and ignored, especially when they are on the lowest rungs of the corporate totem pole. They crave to express their ideas and need to address problems with a patient and empathic manager – ideally one who is well versed in Active Listening.
- Dale Carnegie emphasized that the greatest human need is the need to feel important. All employees, no matter what their rank, need to be reminded that they personally are an important part of the company and that they are part of something much larger than themselves. This feeling of importance can be very motivating and will go far to enhance enthusiasm. What more could a manager ask for?
- Consider enrolling into a strong leadership training program as managing people is a complex task. As I stated in #1 above, people are motivated by one thing – getting their needs met. And as each strives to do so, conflict is inevitable and managers would certainly benefit from learning and practicing effective techniques to keep work teams motivated and focused while keeping conflict to a minimum.
These are my top four, and you’ll note that they are very E.Q. If you are successfully managing people who fill your entry level positions and have insight to offer, please do. I believe their roles are critical and need to be remembered, noticed and considered – not forgotten.