Articles tagged "Performance Management"
Are you frustrated with your managers, supervisors, or project managers?
- Do they blame others when budgets are blown and deadlines are missed?
- Do they point fingers when their teams are deadlocked over problems?
- Do they throw their hands up in frustration when their team's internal conflicts get in the way of servicing the customers?
If so, are you asking enough of your managers? Or let me put it this way: Are you being clear enough with your managers as to what you really expect of them?
A common problem many in leadership positions face is being able to clarify what they 'really' need their managers, supervisors, and project managers to do.
Often managers, supervisors, and project managers incorrectly believe their job is to do the specific, itemized tasks listed in their position descriptions or on their work orders or on other project lists. Yes, those tasks need to get done. But those are expected. Those are the basics. Those are the bare minimum requirements any manager, supervisor, or project manager is expected to be able to do -- and do well. That's what they're being paid to do.
However, what most new or less-than-effective managers, supervisors, and project managers don't realize, is what the leadership team really expects of them. And that's taking ownership of the problems, confusion, frustrations, and other issues their teams face that cause delays or roadblocks in their ability to get their work done. Taking ownership doesn't mean taking all of the blame personally. It means taking the individual responsibility and initiative to identify, address, and clear the roadblocks the team is facing, struggling with, over-analyzing, under-analyzing, over-emphasizing, exaggerating, or completely missing. Whatever the issue is that's creating a roadblock to the team's successful performance, it's the manager's responsibility to clear it.
So if it's an equipment problem, the manager needs to be available to help determine or approve the needed fixes. If it's an undefined problem, the manager needs to be available to help determine the root cause and determine the best solution. If it's a personality-clash between team members, the manager needs to address that issue as well. Whatever is creating a distraction or other problem for the team, it's the manager's job to deal with it, clear it, and allow the team to move on and to succeed.
So if you're frustrated with your managers, are you asking enough of them?
Do they know what you really expect of them? Do they know you expect them to take ownership of their team and its problems?
- Are your employees clear as to what your expectations for performance are?
- Do your employees know what the non-negotiable attitudes and behaviors are that are expected of all team members (yourself included)?
- Do your employees know what the consequences are if they do not meet these expectations?
- Are they certain you will take action, one way or the other, depending upon how they choose to perform?
- Have you clearly drawn your "leadership line-in-the-sand"?
If you didn't answer "Yes" to every one of the above questions, you have some communicating to do. You see, if your employees aren't clear as to what standards, values, and attitudes you expect them to perform to and demonstrate, you're causing them to guess. Or, by default, you're allowing them to continue to under-perform or demonstrate behaviors that you believe are "inappropriate." You continue to be frustrated with them, and they continue to underperform! This vicious cycle is your fault, it's not theirs. You've not clearly drawn your "leadership line-in-the-sand."
I recently talked with a senior manager who was describing how his team is learning where his leadership line is. He's been managing this particular team for about one year. During that time, he gathered data on production, attendance, billable hours, overtime, etc. As a result, he has hard data on who is working hard and who is "getting by." Over the past several weeks, he's communicated his "leadership line in the sand" on work hours, overtime, production standards, etc., needed to best meet their customers' needs. He also clearly stated he wanted the workload to be more evenly spread across all team members. As a result, the employees who were already working 20+ hours of overtime a week to meet the customers' needs, were intrigued. However, the few employees who had had attendance issues and had not been performing to these clearly defined standards soon started to identify the ramifications of being on one side of his leadership line or the other.
An underperforming employee asked the manager, "So you want to ensure the work is more evenly distributed." "Yep," replied the manager, "That's right."
"I agree it should be evenly distributed.... But that'll mean I'll have to work 3 more hours a week." "Yep."
"But I'll have to change my commuting schedule." "Yep."
"But this is going to be more work for me!" "Yep."
"So,... could I like lose my job if I don't work the additional hours?" "Yep."
Which side of the leadership line will the underperforming employee choose? It's his choice. Now that he knows where the line is, he can choose.
Where's your "leadership line in the sand?"
Copyright MMXII - Liz Weber, CMC, CSP - Weber Business Services, LLC – www.WBSLLC.com +1.717.597.8890
Liz supports clients with strategic and succession planning, as well as leadership training and executive coaching. Learn more about me on LinkedIn!
You've cut prices, you've refined your target customer base, you've increased your advertising and still --- business is so slow it's dangerous. The economy is not good, but other companies seem to be selling similar products and services. How are they able to survive (and yes, thrive) while your sales are tanking? They've focused on growing their businesses through their employees, instead of through their customers alone.
Successful companies have realized that if they better educate, train, and communicate with their employees on 'the business', their organization's bottom line will likely improve. Why? Better informed and better trained employees are able to generate sales. They're able to identify ways to improve processes, and to discover ways to reduce costs. Regardless of title or position, everyone in the organization can now contribute to growing 'the business'.
Every employee, at every level of your organization is a potential sales person. Every employee is a potential manager and leader. Every employee is a potential process engineer. But your employees can't reach their potential, until they've been given information, training, and guidance to make that potential a reality.
Who better to learn the entire production process than the people on the line? Why not teach them how enhancements to their process can positively impact the rest of the line?
Who better to learn project management than the people who have been gathering the data for the project? Why not teach them how to marry the data with real- world applications?
Who better to study the deep demographics of your customers than your front-line tellers? Why not teach them how to quickly identify customer segments and then use the appropriate cross-selling techniques?
At a bare minimum, if your employees wear company shirts, jackets, or uniforms, recognize that they are your passive sales team. They're walking billboards for your organization. Therefore, it's critical these employees understand 'the business' and can explain it to others.
I recently suggested to one of my clients that he and his senior staff wear their company shirts to any Rotary, Chamber, Lions, business or community function. The owner thought the idea was rather weak. However, that night he wore his company shirt to an after-work community fund-raiser. The woman he sat next to commented on his shirt. My client explained what his company provided, and walked away with her card. The next day, he followed up with her -- and received a large purchase order. My client has since scheduled more training for all of his employees, he now includes product and services briefings in his regular production meetings, and -- he's ordered more shirts!
Don't limit your growth by focusing exclusively on your customers. Leverage your business through your employees. 'Grow' your employees, and they'll grow your business.
Copyright MMIII Liz Weber, CMC, CSP - Weber Business Services, LLC.
It's been happening more and more. Clients are complaining about their managers' inappropriate behaviors, lack of management skills, and inability to take on greater responsibilities. Yet, when I ask if they have discussed the problem areas with their managers, they say, "It won't do any good. I talked to them about this years ago and they never changed."
Why do so many of us fear having difficult conversations with our managers and other members of our staffs? Why do we choose to not address poor or inappropriate performance? Are we afraid of the potential conflict? Are we afraid we might hurt someone's feelings? Are we afraid someone might cry?
Whatever your reasoning for not addressing poor performance, let me remind you that as the leader you are accountable to know what your manager’s job is (a manager’s responsibility is to ensure the work gets done) and that it's done correctly. I hate to sound cold now, but if a certain piece of equipment started to malfunction and churn out parts that were not up to standard, would you simply stand by and let it continue to spew defective parts? No. You would shut down the unit, determine the cause of the malfunction, and then fix it. It is conceivable that you would stand by the machine to monitor it as it restarts production to ensure the parts are being produced correctly again. You may even continue to interact with and tweak the machine until it operates the way you know it can and should. So why don't you do the same thing with your people?
Fear of potential conflict, hurt feelings, tears, or some other possible reaction holds you back. By not having those difficult conversations you are allowing poor performance to continue, less-than-acceptable products or services to be produced, as well as almost certainly decreasing the opportunity for overall morale to exist and grow. And that's simply not right.
HOW TO HAVE DIFFICULT CONVERSATIONS:
Be crystal clear about the subject of your conversation with your employees.
You will be addressing a fact: poor performance.
Don't let yourself become consumed with the potential reactions you may or may not be confronted with.
Your employees may appreciate that you are now asking them to work with you in developing a mutually agreeable plan of action to correct the issue.
To deal with anger, hurt feelings, or tears...
Remember your intent in having this conversation (to address performance) and remind your employees. “I did not mean to hurt your feelings. I meant to have a conversation on performance.”
That simple clarification, shared with an upset employee, is often enough to help refocus the conversation back to the true topic. Try it. You have nothing to fear…and it may just work. It has potential.
My husband and I helped a friend move her horses to a new stable recently. Neither of her horses had ever been loaded on a trailer before, so she was terribly nervous about the unfamiliar adventure facing us. She had visions of her horses panicking, bucking, kicking, whinnying for dear life, and forcibly being pushed and pulled into the trailer.
Instead, one horse walked right on as we calmly talked to her during the loading process, and the other eventually walked on the trailer, without drama, after only 10 minutes. How? We offered her two choices: 1) stand still while we tapped her hind-end with a crop like a pesky and persistent fly, or 2) move forward and stop the pestering. The choice was hers. Simple, if she stood still, we pestered her; if she moved, we didn’t. We limited her options and were consistent in displaying what the consequences would be for each. She chose and we followed up with the consequences.
The choices were structured in such a way that the one that helped us achieve our mission was more attractive than the one that hindered. After 10 annoying minutes, she decided it was easier to just walk on the trailer and eat some grain—so she did. There was no panicking, bucking, kicking, pushing or pulling. She chose the least irritating option that, in the end, was easy for her and easy for us. Clear and consistent communication with clear objectives helped us all enjoy our adventure.
I thought of this horse lesson recently while talking with a client. He was recounting how the performance level of his employees had increased over the past 12 months. He stated that our work in helping to change his management style—from one that was dictatorial to one that was more collaborative—had supported a performance increase in his production staff. The new collaborative style gives his employees more control in offering enhancements to their respective processes and in modifying procedures to test their theories. However, the employees are given clear objectives to meet and they have input in establishing some of those objectives. They have more choices in how they perform their respective job responsibilities, as long as their objectives are met.
The employees all know why each person has the objectives they do have. Every employee knows how his or her job fits into the overall structure of the company and how each position can move the company towards its vision. There are no surprises. Because everyone knows the Company Values, each employee can choose to help support the mission of the company or not. If they do (support the mission), they are given more opportunities for growth, learning, and experimentation. If they don't, they have the option of changing their performance and staying with the company, or finding a new position in a different company. Here, again, the choice is theirs.
Clear and consistent communication with clear objectives helps my client and his entire team enjoy their adventure together. There are fewer surprises, fewer conflicts, and much more cooperation and success.
What choices are you offering?