A business leader I know was recently lamenting his team’s choppy performance over the last several quarters to me over a cup of coffee. He was so frustrated I could feel the tension in the air and felt I had to help him feel better about the challenges he was facing with his team.
A sad fact is that everything I’ve ever seen in a 40-year leadership career tells me that too many managers are unwilling to do the heavy lifting when it comes to performance management conversations. I expect that these managers fear the discomfort they feel when talking about unmet expectations with their staff. Still, if you’re unwilling to speak with your employee today when it’s clear that they are performing beneath expectations, when will that dialogue ever get easier? That’s right, it won’t! These conversations are difficult, and a lot is riding on them. However, I can’t imagine how I could look myself in the mirror and call myself a leader if a conversation about performance silences me when I have an employee associate who is struggling to deliver results. How is avoiding the issue going to help? Will it ever? I don’t see how, do you?
So here is a bit of good news. You can DO it! Really, you CAN! Once you realize that nobody is going to do it for you, and you recognize that this is EXACTLY what you are paid to do, you can just get on with it. Start by ensuring that your team knows exactly what you value and what you believe. That must NOT be a mystery. Make certain that your team knows EXACTLY what you expect. Make sure that your entire team knows PRECISELY what the organization needs from them and when they need it. High performing employees know what is expected of them, and they know that their manager is going to measure them and give them meaningful feedback on how they’re progressing toward the goals well before the project is wrapped up. The BEST leaders relish having positive performance discussions with their people. Those leaders KNOW that talking with your team works. These leaders realize that being able to be positive most of the time involves being proactive. They engage in performance dialogue early, when it works the best. Being proactive ALWAYS works better than hoping that things will go well, doesn’t it?
Get out front and provide some leadership. Set expectations. Provide relevant feedback with specific examples. Measure progress. Engage proactively in positive dialogue about performance while you can still have a good impact. Don’t wait for trouble or let anybody be surprised or blindsided by waiting until a project fails to begin to discuss expectations or outcomes. I’ve noticed that hope is a terrible strategy and that showing employees that I care about their success is a winning strategy. When I engage my team and tell them what we expect and why it’s important, they are far more likely to drive the results and performance we need. No mystery, and no drama. Neat.
What’s your story? Have you found positive results correlate to positive, proactive action with your team? We’d love to hear your story about how you led your team to better results. What changes did you make? What conflicts did you and the team have to overcome? What worked? What didn’t work? Share your comments with us here and help us get more developing leaders engaged in the dialogue.
Michael Beach is an award winning Business Advisor and Executive Coach, working with Medium Sized Companies who want to step up the level of their game and become Big Companies. Michael is a thought leader and frequent speaker on the development of Emerging Leaders for companies who are building winning leadership teams to drive future growth. Michael invites you to be the first to reach out to him at email@example.com and gain a free Business Effectiveness Evaluation and a 12-month business improvement plan courtesy of Michael Beach Coaching & Consulting.