Maximizing Employee Performance

It wasn’t enough that Rockwell Collins, an aviation and information technology systems provider in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, needed to replace its foundational leadership development program. The company’s goal was to redesign its training workshops to match its new business requirements. To that end, they contacted Michael Watkins to develop an effective employee development course.

Watkins, 44, is the founder and president of Guild Associates, a performance management consulting firm that designs and develops strategies and programs to boost a company’s performance and efficiency. The Boulder, Colorado-based firm created a unique program that “entrepreneurializes” a company’s workforce by empowering employees to achieve personal and professional bests. The results are designed to promote job enthusiasm, increase productivity, and retain loyal employees.

Greg Schaefer, the manager of curriculum design and development for Rockwell Collins, got in touch with Guild Associates to organize his company’s leadership development retraining program. “The idea to use [Guild Associates] came from my former boss, who saw the need for training,” he says. “Michael’s name came up and we’ve been working with him for two to three years.” Guild Associates designed and developed two entry-level management courses and the Leadership Development Program I, a three-day, foundation-level-leadership course. Guild Associates, which is owned by Watkins’ wife, Carolyn, has been in business since 2001 and has six employees. The company posted revenues of $600,000 in 2004 and expects to generate $660,000 in 2005.

The Guild Associates program features six steps designed to create a supportive culture that encourages and rewards innovative thinking:

Create a supportive culture from the top down. Development programs need to support entrepreneurial thinking from top-level executives to entry-level workers.

Define company values. Organizations must stand for something by defining company values and empowering its workforce to define what they stand for.

Define competencies. Managers must develop and present the entrepreneurial skills, knowledge, and attitudes necessary for a particular job to advance the quality and confidence of new hires.

Enable self-assessments. Organizations must empower employees to self-assess their own job performance skills.

Provide development tools. Employees have to be given the tools to grow their skills and do their jobs efficiently.

Reward and recognize. Execute reward and recognition programs that will enhance entrepreneurial behaviors.

“Employees really want to contribute to their companies and to achieve their goals and objectives,” says Watkins. “When they do these things, they feel ‘entrepreneurialized.’ They take ownership of their own jobs, and they stay.”