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Get proactive and curb absenteeism

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in Leaders & Managers,Management Training

Employee absences are seldom wel­come. That's why you've posted and explained both your absenteeism policy and the consequences of violations. That's also why you counsel workers who are often absent, look for ways to remotivate them and discipline repeat offenders. But there's more that you can do, both on your own and with your team, to curb unnecessary absences. Here are some ideas:

Keep an absence log. Mark each absence on a monthly calendar, perhaps using initials or a different color for each team member. Over several weeks, months or even years, your log will help you identify any significant patterns. It will help prove (or disprove) your hunches that certain people are absent too often, that certain days aren't cov­ered well enough or that the team as a whole is undermotivated about reliably showing up to work.

Target problem areas. Decide which absences are causing the greatest problems, and whether they call for individual or team attention. Some cases are best handled one on one—for example, a team member might regularly add another day to three day weekends. But other patterns can reveal teamwide prob­lems. For example, absences can pile up, month after month, year after year, on the exact days when your team is expected to count inventory or attend training.

Ask for team help. Begin mention­ing the absenteeism problem—without naming names—in team meetings. Cite the numbers in staff reports or bulletin-board postings. If necessary, add "reduce absences" to your team goals. Work with the team to brainstorm and adapt solu­tions. One team, for example, noticed that people almost never missed a payday and began scheduling some less favor­able tasks on those days.

Establish an anti-absence pro­gram. You might post a graph that shows team members whether absences are trending up or down, or develop a worthwhile reward to use when absenc­es reach target levels. Again, your team's input can make a long-term program better designed and more effective.

Bottom-Line Idea

When a task arises that you decide to delegate, select the team members you think would do it well and decide to what extent you expect them to do it. Then assign them to do it to that extent. Be sure your team members know exactly what that extent is. With some team members, it's probably best not to ask too much. With others, you can simply hand over a task without any further input. When you match the level of delegation to the employee—rather than to the task—you'll end up with better results.

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