The value of mentoring as part of a personal development programme is well known and documented. True mentoring involves a senior member of staff taking a junior member of staff (ideally from another part of the business or organisation), under their wing. Learn More
The days of the manager who says, ‘My way or the highway!’ have certainly changed. Managing through fear belongs back in the dark ages when the autocratic manager was king. Learn More
One of the most popular sessions we cover in our management training is managing poor performance. We are asked many questions about specific people in their teams who are just not performing as they should. Learn More
Henry Mintzberg’s book ‘Managing’ has received excellent reviews, and it’s got a good slot in my bookcase. The management guru talks about popular but false views about the nature of managerial work, separates fact from myth, and provides the best information yet published on what managers do and how they do it.
The article Four Levels of Employee Engagement evoked a lot of response from people, especially on the subject ‘how do you get people to level 4?’.
A typical question came from Henry, who asks, “Getting people to operate at level four is very difficult. Most people in my experience have too many other things going on in their lives to get total commitment from them. How do you get them to level four?”
Great point. Most people do not have the incentive or will to devote the kind of passion or enthusiasm that you would like at work. Their real passion lies outside of the working environment. They work to live, not the other way round.
The enthusiasm, loyalty and commitment you would like from team members can’t be forced on them. It only happens through a ‘culture of commitment’, where customer-facing staff reflect to the outside world the intense pride and ownership they are experiencing on the inside.
It’s what Vanderbilt professor Roland Rust calls ‘service climate’. He calls those attributes of overall workplace climate those that characterise how well-equipped employees are to deliver excellence at the point of contact with external or internal customers, such as adequacy of resources and equipment and job skills development.
Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration found that employees’ emotional commitment and sense of identity with the company is a key factor in providing excellent service.
And Henry Mintzberg, a key writer on all-things management, is quoted as saying, “Managers should function so that people can be naturally empowered. If someone is doing their job to an excellent standard, they should know their job better than anyone else, and so they don’t need to be ’empowered’ but encouraged and left alone to be able to do what they know best.” (Italics ours)
This means creating a Performance Partnership with your team. It means you are all in it together. And it starts with you.
As manager/leader of your team, you need to show the commitment to the business that you would like others to show. This commitment doesn’t mean you work all hours of the day and night; it means that when you are actually at work (whether it’s nine-to-five or beyond), you bring your enthusiasm and commitment to every minute of that time.
You should communicate openly as much as possible with your partners. The more they know, the more they will understand. The more they understand, the more they will care. The more they care, the more you can trust them. If you’re serious about forming a Performance Partnership, then you’ll share information that is relevant and also some that is ‘nice to know’.
You should appreciate everything your team does for the business. Giving a salary is the base level of appreciation. However, building praise and recognition into the way that you lead will enhance your relationships and build pride in what people do and bring to the business.
Listening to what is being said may seem a strange way to gain commitment; but, if you take on board others’ requests, identify why they feel the way they do, endeavour to change processes so they support the teams’ activities and create a climate of change that emphasises the attention to results, you stand a far greater chance of people offering their hearts and minds to the cause.
All this isn’t easy. As we said before, engaging employees so they bring their hearts to work as well as their minds, is not something that an increased salary or better perks will bring. No, they need to be encouraged to commit to bring excellence to everything they do. You can’t buy commitment; but you can provide the conditions and environment and atmosphere that encourages people to support the purpose and objectives of the business. Becoming Performance Partners together is the first step on that journey.
Head of Training
(Image by Ambro)
One of your main activities as a manager is to get your people performing to their best abilities. Unless you’re a one-man-band, you need people to contribute to the overall effectiveness of the business. After all, that’s what you pay them for.
But how can you drive that quality performance? How can you create the conditions so their performance is as good as it possibly can be?
Firstly, build a compelling, shared vision and direction. Challenging and clear objectives build energy into people, and engage them into sharing their abilities and energies on the team. Talk to them about why and what you are trying to achieve, but let them consider the how.
Then, put an enabling structure together. This means allowing people’s strengths to shine through. Build those strengths around each other, so you have complimentary ideas running parallel to each other.
Then, set up a reward system that will drive motivation. Give information that will encourage participation and help them accept responsibility. Only when they feel they know what’s going on will they accept the responsibility to achieve the goals you are aiming for.
Finally, show empowering leadership. Encourage synergy in the team. None of us is as smart as all of us, so identify how the performance strategies can be changed so that the invention of new processes can drive innovation between team members. Determine which members can be encourages to take on more responsibility, allowing them to feel empowered and keen to share forward-thinking ideas.
All this will encourage people to accept their role in driving performance forward, with your encouragement and support.
I’m just coming to the end of an excellent book on Middle Management, so I thought I’d share the details with you. It’s seldom that we get a book that covers so much detail in such an interesting and effective way, but ‘The High-Impact Middle Manager’ by Lisa Haneberg does just that.
Managing and rewarding performance isn’t something you can wake up one morning and decide to do. The system used to manage the performance of your employees must be carefully constructed and include several important checkpoints.
First, it’s important for your employees to have a clear understanding of what their job expectations are. This means giving them a set of specific job duties, preferably in writing, and clearly outlining what is expected.
You should then, at regular intervals, give your employee feedback about his or her performance. You should never wait until it’s time to conduct an annual review to give this type of feedback. Give your employees feedback as they work so that they can easily make adjustments to enhance their job performance.
There should be points within the review process in which you are able to give your employees advice or guidelines for improving their job performances. This may mean recommending additional training or encouraging someone to take continuing education classes. Don’t forget to document your recommendations.
Finally, it’s important to reward great performances. You should have an incentive plan in place, whether you are merely giving out raises at the time of the annual review or adding additional bonuses or prizes along the way.
Make sure you include each of these steps as you develop your own performance management system. The methods you use to implement each of these steps is up to you and can be tailored to the needs of your department, but make sure you don’t skip any of them completely. Managing performance is critical to the success of your department, but everyone needs to be on the same page. You can only accomplish these goals with a solid plan.
Do you have a formal performance management system? Does it include each of the four steps outlined above? What do you think might need to be changed to make your system more effective?
Uh oh! You thought you hired someone who would turn out to be a superstar, but it turns out he’s nothing more than a deadbeat. He frequently calls out and doesn’t schedule time off in advance and does just enough work to stay on the company’s good side – but not enough to make a valid contribution to the team.
He thinks only of himself and, while he does enough to keep his job he really doesn’t help the team or care about growing individually. He’s obviously there to get paid and go home. Sometimes deadbeats vocally criticize the company in front of others as well. Eventually, their attitudes may begin to bring down the entire workgroup.
Here’s the problem. When you hired Mr. Deadbeat he was excited about his job and did everything you asked for the first few months. So what went wrong that changed his attitude? It’s your job to find out – especially if you’d like to see him return to his previous state rather than continue the way he is.
The kicker is this – no matter what you think, you or your organisation are the cause of his unrest. This may or may not actually be true, but in his mind either you (personally, as his manager) or the company did something that made him unhappy. You popped his “happy employee” balloon and things started to spiral from there. Can you identify exactly when his attitude changed? Do you remember what the cause was?
Once you’ve identified the reason for the attitude (if there is one) you should work with your employee to improve his performance. Try to:
Coaching your employees may be difficult, but it’s only made more difficult by employees with bad attitudes. Do you have potential new managers working their way through the system? If so, make sure their management training courses include information on how to deal with difficult employees as well. Not having the tools to address these situations can mean the difference between a great day at work and a miserable experience.