How to get everyone working in the right direction

Ilga Horvat from Boutique HR provides tips on how best for wine business operators to guide the direction and progress of employees.

This is a question I have been asked by numerous business owners. Some have had a long-serving and stable team who are not as motivated coming out from a few tough years in the business, others have experienced growth and have many new employees. The setting is slightly different, but the situation is the same. Their teams are working hard, but they are not working to the same priorities or achieving the results the owners have hoped for.

The common characteristic here is that the managers and business owners have not communicated their business goals to the team, and the employees did not have any articulated goals. The team was just busy working without looking up to get to the right position. One way to think of it is that everyone was busy running without knowing what the destination was that they were running to.

For everyone to head in the right direction they need to know where they are heading and why. They will then be able to pause during the journey and assess if the path they are travelling on is still the most suitable to get to their destination or if a change of course is needed due to bottlenecks, obstacles, or a change of circumstances.


Leaders must identify their business objectives and communicate this to the team clearly and effectively to ensure everyone knows what they are working towards.


Company owners will have a long-term strategy for their business, which will be broken down into annual targets.

These targets directly determine what each department or business function needs to achieve that year. Everyone in a department plays a part in reaching these goals and making the bigger business plan happen. Corporate companies formalise this process. Smaller businesses may do the same thing but not articulate it in the same way.

For example, noting to your team that you want to work towards reducing non-organic pesticides and have a more sustainable approach to pest eradication would identify an overarching viticultural goal. This may be part of a longer-term goal for attaining organic certification.  Each of the vineyard team would contribute to this. From here objectives are set with tasks and expected outcomes noted.  Accountabilities are allocated based on job roles.

How involved should you be in defining your employees’ objectives?

In the Harvard Business review article, “Making Sure Your Employees Succeed”, Linda Hill is referenced noting “A manager’s job is to provide ‘supportive autonomy’ that’s appropriate to the person’s level of capability.” Amy Gallo goes on to note that, “The key is to be hands-on while giving your people the room they need to succeed on their own.”

The reason for this is that when you understand the purpose of your role in achieving the business and departmental objectives and have decided on what you can do to assist with this, you own these plans. You create your objectives and targets and so take willing accountability for them. As a consequence, you are likely to be more focused and committed to getting there and in turn, engaged in your work.

Referencing the previous sustainability objective example above; To ensure each person contributed and owned their goals, the Vineyard Manager could outline the goal and ask each of the team to come up with 2 or 3 objectives that they will be able to achieve in their roles to contribute to this. The complexity of the objective will depend on the seniority of the employee. Some examples of goals for varying seniority levels are researching organic vineyard practices, developing an organic conversion plan, preparing a marketing plan to highlight the sustainability focus, compost creation and implementing a composting system, planting native grasses, and ensuring equipment is serviced by a set date.

The manager would then review these with the employee and ensure they are relevant and SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, and Relevant as well as set a Time frame for completion.

The SMART goal methodology is a system that is proven to work by ensuring that goals are achievable and consequently motivating. They are measurable so progress can be tracked.

These goals can be further broken down into more short-term objectives or tasks which can be reviewed in your WIPs (Work In Progress discussions).



Why is it important to have regular goal-tracking discussions with your employees?

Regular discussions ensure managers can support their team to reach their objectives and overcome roadblocks, adapt to any changes in the business landscape, and adjust priorities. In turn, managers control their functional goal progress also.

Progress can be assessed, and assistance provided to your team member as needed to ensure they meet their objectives. Regular WIPs ensure that not only do you track the progress of tasks, but you can see where employees have strengths and can do more or may need support and then provide it. Any distractions, personal or professional, general workplace concerns or confusion that hamper focus can be discussed and settled. Issues can be addressed to ensure that everyone continues moving in the same direction.

Tracking progress and measuring success is also imperative to ascertain how suitable a person is in the role they have been recruited into. Not everyone will be the ideal employee. Whether it is a skillset issue, or a company fit and values alignment issue. Implementing regular check-ins where you track progress and feedback, allows you to collate nonbiased data. Utilise this information to decide the viability of the incumbent in your organisation. Documenting the information covered in your WIP’s ensures you have a record that both parties can rely on rather than working off memory. Should a legal issue occur regarding the performance management of this employee, these notes are important to have. In those situations, using memory or a “he said, she said” approach will not work in an employer’s favour.

What should a Manager do when an employee is consistently not performing to the required standard?

If you see that the employee is not performing to the required standard, ensure you set up a formal performance review time outside of your regular WIP, to outline the issues and set up a Performance Improvement Plan. This is important to ensure procedural fairness when performance managing an employee.

It is important to allow the person an opportunity to improve their performance. Identifying what areas they are not performing in and finding out why this is the case is crucial so that these points can be addressed accordingly. For example, is it that they need additional training, they do not get on with their supervisor, do they have an underlying health or family issue that is hampering their focus or are they just not enjoying the work? Provide support as appropriate to mitigate the issues affecting their performance. Then set objectives and a standard for them to achieve within the time frame. Set another review date before probation finishes. We can provide you with resources to help you with this process.

Ideally, they will improve and you will have a valuable, achieving, engaged staff member. If not, you may need to terminate their employment.  Following the aforementioned process will ensure that you identify any issues and you can attempt to rectify, rather than having to deal with a problem staff member who has not been effectively managed out of the business. The latter may cause issues and cost you time and money.

Is there a point to the formal appraisal?

Conducting a formal mid-year and annual review with your team will assist you in managing progress and realign priorities and targets. This allows the opportunity to celebrate wins and reward team members or identify those struggling and address any issues. Regular catch-ups and formalised performance appraisals create a system that mitigates your people risks and ensures you have a strong team that is all working toward the same targets.

When effort and hard work are not acknowledged, people become deflated and unmotivated.

Formally rewarding performing team members is important for your team to feel valued, appreciated and excited for the next year.


If you would like a template to use for your WIP or Performance Improvement Plan discussions, please email us at and we will send it to you.