How to Optimize Employee Performance with Tonya Robertson

“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself” — Henry Ford

Image for post
Image for post
Tonya Robertson — Founder and CEO of Focused Training Solutions

With an evergrowing list of tasks and projects on my plate, I’ve begun the process of growing my team. While doing, I’ve been putting a significant amount of time into finding ways to improve my team’s performance and create a positive working environment.

Building a culture of positivity, accountability, and peace is key to hitting my goals and keeping projects on track. My team needs to know that they can rely on each other to jump in and collaborate on projects, and as the CEO, I want to be sure that individual contributors can meet deadlines and expectations without being micromanaged. At the heart of accountability is communication and transparency. When my team communicates frequently and openly, our responsibilities become clearer and we’re able to deliver on agreements more easily, allowing us to ultimately increase the quality that we’re providing to our clients.

In order to learn more about optimizing my teams’ performance, I decided to sit down with the Founder and CEO of Focused Training Solutions, Tonya Robertson.

Image for post
Image for post

Dove: During the hiring process, what are some things that I can look for that would show me that the candidate is a team player?

Tonya: Depends on what your goals and your expectations are for the specific position that you’re hiring for. One of the things I look at is the candidate’s social media to get a feel for who they are and what they are discussing on social platforms. It will give you a sense of who they are outside of the workplace. It also provides a good understanding of whether this person will engage well with others.

Being a team player isn’t the end all be all. For example, I sat and listened to an employer complain about a team member who is an introvert or about employees who rather work alone versus in big team settings. And this isn’t always a true reflection on the quality of work or employee that person is. Sometimes that personality can actually add to your office culture and in doing that you bring out the best in people.

Also, allow the potential candidate to set up their workspace in the way they need in order to produce successful outcomes that align with the mission of the company.

Dove: What are some things that I can try if it seems like a new hire isn’t adapting to the atmosphere or grasping training information?

Tonya: This can vary as well. Things are constantly changing, similar to life. You wake up every day and things can change. At the end of the day, you are dealing with people. The same employee that came on Monday happy and chipper and ready to work can come on Tuesday with a different attitude. You need to be in touch with your team members because they are essential. Try understanding your team members learning style and dig deep into what your employees’ learning needs are. Determine if they feel supported or have the necessary tools that need in the right capacity in order to do their job. Also, some training can come off as a one size fit all in most companies due to training budgets but that does not work for all staff members.

In today’s society, we are now adjusted to receiving quick nuggets of information or visual learning techniques like YouTube to figure out how to issue out a task. Reconsider the training and training style that is being offered within the company’s expected outcome, including the length of training and levels of engagement. Also, consider if you have variations for your company’s training or do you have supplemental resources to go along with the training.

Dove: You are absolutely right. Speaking of training, how often should I retrain team members?

Tonya: This can vary, based on a number of things, one being the overall goals of the organization and the subject matter that the training is on. There should always be training accessible for the team to be able to go in at any time. An organization’s training should always be accessible to your team members and you can have them complete the training for incentive purposes.

Dove: Okay, that makes a lot of sense. What steps should I take if I begin to have a high turnover rate?

Tonya: This has different variances as well. And the first thing I would suggest is to look within and evaluate your goals, your processes, and the company standard you have set. Always get a second pair of eyes to review your mission for the company and to offer suggestions. Not all turnovers are bad turnovers. Determine the metrics of what’s a healthy turnover rate for your specific industry. In some instances having a vacancy is better than having a bad hire. Be transparent, evaluating your expectations that you have on your team, that can be a factor as well. Making sure your team members truly have the skills and reevaluating the onboarding process. Communicating — making sure the communication is or has been clear.

Image for post
Image for post

Dove: What may be some common signs of a team member who needs retraining?

Tonya: If you are connected to your team members and you’re having regular touch-points, which I consider “understanding meetings”, where you are touching base to understand what’s going on with them both professionally and personally as it may affect their work performance. In that regard, if you, the employer, are being proactive and upfront, it’s easier to determine the needs of your employees and when to retrain. If you begin to notice some things like the employee’s mannerisms, poor work ethic, or a sudden drop in overall performance, consider some type of training that would mirror more so a coaching style to get them back on track. Also, things to consider, implementing some kind of strategy sessions to understand what’s happening beyond the company training. For example, if it is true that your employee isn’t grasping the training information or processes, work alongside the employee to establish where the disconnect is. Are they bored, are they easily distracted, are they unhappy with work, are they comfortable at work, what are some of their personality traits, learning style, and so much more?

This process is similar to dating, you have to do a deep dive with your employees to try to figure out what they need and how you can help navigate them to the company’s end goal.

Dove: My lack of this knowledge would explain why I’m not so great with dating. With that being said, how would I know when/if it’s time to bring in a professional to assist with employee trainings?

Tonya: When you have trained your team and realized that you need a second eye, retraining process, once a quarter or twice a quarter to refresh understanding. Also, if your organization’s goals are not being implemented by your employees, it could be more of a culture issue. Evaluate your training and adapt to your company’s culture. Have a training fun activity that reinforces the training as a result of what they learned. Sometimes an employer can mistake a company culture issue as a training issue. They would invest thousands of dollars in training instead of reevaluating the company’s culture. However, once you sit down and have conversations about the organization, the overall goals, then we begin to uncover other layers and discover what’s really happening.


Tonya Robertson, the learning and strategy specialist is the Founder and CEO of Focused Training Solutions, a company that is committed to curating instructional learning tools designed to optimize performance in the workplace. Robertson has worked with numerous C-Suite Executives of well-known companies to create training materials that will guide their team to success and establish good retention among their employees. Alongside working tirelessly to help others be productive in the workplace, Tonya also devotes her time to organizations such as the Association of Talent Development and Dell’s Women Entrepreneur Network. She has also received a Doctorate Degree in Education and Elearning. To learn more about Tonya and her work, visit

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store