One of the toughest challenges I faced as a frontline manager was discussing performance with employees. At best the experience was anxiety provoking and at worst it was contentious.
Over the years I came to realize that the underlying problem is the process. In most cases the situation is set up to be lose – lose. I hated doing the review and the staff hated getting them.
Why is this often the case and what do you do about it?
- We usually only discuss performance when the issue is underperformance.
- It is usually prompted by an incident rather than the pattern of performance.
- Most people have the sense they are being “judged”.
- Managers are perceived to be accusing the person (the prosecutor).
- There is usually a perceived level of subjectivity (the persecutor).
- etc. etc.
So where do we start. The short answer is by developing a work environment based on accountability for performance. This means locking your manager’s “badge of authority” in the desk and developing a relationship of partnership with your people. After all, you can’t be successful unless they are successful. And the staff can’t be successful without an effective coach who provides feedback (favorable and unfavorable) in a thoughtful and objective fashion. That’s win – win. Here are a few essentials.
- Building trust with each individual and within the team is critical.
- Developing alignment with the strategic framework of the organization or the team provides needed context for the work people do so that they have line of sight from action to vision.
- Set goals collaboratively. This almost never happens because managers fear that the staff will low ball or sandbag the goal. In the right environment that will not happen.
- Coach your “players” to bring out their best performance. Shame and blame will never be as effective as support and encouragement.
These bullet points should get you thinking in the right direction. For more specific discussion and examples of “how to” actually take these steps download my FREE e-book, Get AGRIP on Business Performance.