Leading team members to improve their performance is probably the biggest topic of conversation that we have on our management courses.
Most managers ask how they can encourage people to accept responsibility for their own performance, rather than having to force or tell people what to do. The ‘tell-tell-tell’ culture is still endemic in many organisations. It’s prevalent in hierarchical organisations where status is dominant and being task-driven is the normal modus operandi.
So, what can you do to ensure that your team member commits to improve their performance?
Well, there’s one word that you can remember that gains this commitment is the word ‘agree’
When you agree the contribution that the team member needs to make and then help them to achieve it, you engender the spirit of ownership and commitment. If you just tell them what to do, the commitment may well be less than perfect.
Where a contribution culture exists based on mutual respect and agreement, there is much less prescription. There has to be a level of agreement throughout the team of what is to be achieved and by when.
Here’s a simple model that provides freedom and motivation for team members to achieve the goals that will drive performance, not just for your department but also for the whole company.
Level One: The Cause – This what the company is trying to achieve, and consists of the vision and mission. The team member has to agree that this is something they can have an influence over.
Level Two: The What – This is what team members agree to deliver (outputs) with the agreed resources they have available. Their agreement to this will contribute to the overall result.
Level Three: The How – How the team member will work to achieve the goals and outputs by following the ‘plan’. Agreeing to this level means they accept ownership of results.
Level Four: Principles – These are the essential standards of operation, conduct and behaviour that will help achieve the results. When the team agree to this, they will be committed to achieving results and improving standards in the way things are done.
So, ensure that each team member has agreed the specific contribution they will actually deliver. When you’ve got that agreement. you get more ownership of the results and hence more commitment. Without the agreement, they don’t see the reason to stretch themselves and will probably deliver only to the minimum level.
Agreement should be sought at every point along the way where the team member is asked to commit to improvement. That way, you’ll find the improvement is easier to manage and easier for the team member to proactively accept.
Head of Training
Originally published: 12 October, 2012
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