Performance improvement, not an option!
“The best thing a manager can do to reward their good performers is to address the performance of their poor and mediocre performers.”
Yet, this continues to be a common challenge for many who depend on the work and input of others for their success. And this is not confined to the manager/employee relationship. It equally applies to working with colleagues, bosses, volunteer workers, suppliers.
These people consume their ‘unfair share’ of our ‘mind time’.
We too often keep our disappointment, frustration, and anger to ourselves until we can bear it no longer. When we finally say something, we lead with anger, and ran the risk of being dismissed as “over emotional”, or “totally over reacting”.
The recipients are often shocked and attack back with defensiveness and counter accusations. Not a constructive way to get the performance we need!
There are ‘controlled’ ways of dealing with unsatisfactory performance, from anyone among your 360 relationships. The approach draws heavily on a wide range of analytical, problem solving, conflict resolution, and interpersonal communication skills supported by a good dose of self awareness. Even though these are commonly understood skills, we are apt to forget to draw on what we most need them, and kick ourselves for making an unnecessary fool of ourselves, or putting an unbearable strain on an already ‘bent’, but tolerable relationship.
The answers to your prayers!
There is a way of staying on the front foot in these discussions and avoiding being confronted with “yes but’s” that you can’t answer.
1) Invest the time and energy in raising issues when they are small.
2) Use your feedback and problem solving skills to manage discussions.
3) Approach the conversation with curiosity vs judgment, and a genuine desire to understand why they performed as they did.
4) Prepare for the conversation by considering all the possible obstacles that you, the team, the organization have created that could be preventing any reasonable, able and willing person from performing to the required standard.
Don’t use the process for getting rid of someone. I was teaching this process to a group of mid managers. When we neared the end of the workshop, one delegate ask this question; “ What if I do this and they start to perform; what do I do then??? The rest exploded into gales of laughter; he sheepishly realized the absurdity of his perspective.
It’s Wider application
There is a fast growing need for all employees to raise their game, even those who are the star performers and those who are traditionally the ‘old reliables’. This approach is powerful for creating even stretching, and ‘fit for purpose, performance in every corner of the organisation.
This reminds me of a quote by Jack Welsh, former CEO and Chairman of GE:
“Our [leaders and managers] true ‘core competence’ today is not manufacturing or services, but the global recruiting and nurturing of the world’s best people and the cultivation in them of an insatiable desire to learn, to stretch and to do things better every day.”
For many, this ‘insatiable desire’ does not happen by accident, nor does it over a sustained period of time. It comes from the deliberate and collaborative actions of leaders, managers, and employees to create the conditions for growth, and sustainability for their organization. What we have covered, if applied with skill and precision, can play a significant role in ensuring this future.