Companies tout their ability to come up with innovative products, services and ideas for clients, but managers are far less imaginative when it comes to handling employees not working up to par.
Often, the knee-jerk reaction to an underperformer is fast termination, immediately followed by an interminably slow recruitment and onboarding process. Not only does this chew up time and resources, but it can demoralize departments. Plus, if the problem wasn’t the employee but the system itself, the next hire will likely fall into the same pattern of mediocrity, exasperation, or burnout.
A better response to the issue of a lagging employee is to dig into the root of the problem. Plenty of factors and barriers can drive poor performance. Until managers seek out the true reasons for underwhelming deliverables, they’ll be doomed to repeat the experience.
Understanding why talent may (temporarily) be lacking
Managers who don’t immediately hit the eject button may discover that what seems like an individual challenge is actually an organizational concern. The only way to figure out what’s really happening is to be willing to coach people who struggle to fulfill their requirements.
Truly, mentoring can be the key to solving many on-the-job conundrums. Michael D. Mumford, author of "Pathways to Outstanding Leadership: A Comparative Analysis of Charismatic, Ideological, and Pragmatic Leaders," says that hands-on, collaborative leadership support lowers employees’ resistance to be creative. He refers to this type of management as “respecting the ideas and the competence of the person as a creator,” which is in direct contrast to hire-fast, fire-faster philosophies.
Another benefit to switching to a coaching style when managing underperformers is that collective engagement begins to tick upward. A study released by Deloitte in 2016 explained that the key to engagement is an “enabling infrastructure.” Individuals who aren’t privately or publicly chastised for one-time errors feel more apt to come forward when they need different timelines or see an opportunity to make tangible changes to positively affect deliverables.
Opening the path to talk instead of termination
Is one or more of your team members continuously delivering unacceptable, uninspiring work? Implement these tactics to find out if the problem lies at the company’s — and not the worker's — feet.
1. Hold one-on-one meetings
These shouldn’t be scary, “you’re in big trouble, buster” conversations. Make your time with employees a prime opportunity for them to describe their obstacles. Listen fully. Then, explore ways to partner on closing gaps in processes to help them do better work. They’re the ones doing the jobs; you’re not helping if all you do is dictate.
2. Invest in necessary resources
Money’s tight everywhere. That doesn’t mean leaders should justify holding back resources from employees. When you hear that your employees aren’t able to efficiently or effectively complete assignments because they don’t have the proper tools, take their words seriously.
3. Allocate time to lead
You have a running to-do list that never gets shorter. Still, set aside time to inspire and coach your people. Prioritize your time according to what your employees need from you, which may mean coming in earlier or staying later than you anticipated.
4. Talk “big picture” with the team
Sometimes, people can’t see how they fit into an organization's vision without prompting. Give them a 30,000-foot perspective on their unique role; it may just provide the meaning they need to turn the corner. Never underestimate the power of purpose; when individuals feel their contributions matter, they often step up their games.
Although parting ways with a bad hire is sometimes inevitable, it shouldn’t be the first line of defense (as long as the employee did nothing unethical or egregious). Focus on identifying and removing obstacles, then evaluate the results. You may just find that your “questionable fit” is actually a fantastic hit.
By Perri Grinberg Source: https://www.smartbrief.com/original/2018/09/how-teaching-instead
You’re a toxic perfectionist if:
1. You’re stingy with gratitude.
2. Giving compliments is like pulling teeth.
3. No one’s work is good enough.
4. Mistakes are proof you’re a loser.
5. Pointing out errors is a sport.
6. Celebrating success is for babies.
7. You never admit mistakes.
8. You don’t apologize.
9. Weakness is something other people have.
10. Avoiding mistakes describes your attitude.
11. You always fall short of your expectations.
12. If you can’t be perfect you don’t try.
13. Everything is either/or for you.
14. It’s not about progress. The only thing that matters is results.
15. Blame is your first response, because you can’t bear the thought that YOU fell short.
16. Everything has to be done your way.
How Will You Show Up in 2019?
The end of one year leading to a new year has always been a time when I reflect on the year that is exiting to understand the events of the year, my emotions, and what worked well, and what didn’t. When I was working full time in the workforce there was always a portion of my reflection that looked at what had worked well in our business, what didn’t, and what changes I needed to make in how I led. Most often, I reflected on the following topics: Relationships, Communication, Critical Thinking/Problem Solving, Innovation, Strategy.
If you have read my work, you know that I value relationships above all else in the leadership spectrum. Leadership is the byproduct of relationship. It determines the quality and amount of influence I have. I have found that to be the case whether I was talking from a business leadership perspective, or a personal perspective. One component of that relationship building has to do with whether I am ‘responding’ or ‘reacting.’ The more I respond, the more I build trust because the more my behavior matches what the situation calls for. I think about where I need to strengthen my relationships. Who do I need to spend more time with? Who don’t I know well enough to know what their goals, desires, dreams for their job or their future look like? That knowledge helps me to understand where I need to spend time.
Communication is always a critical component in my daily world. What is my desired message (be it written, verbal or nonverbal)? Is it clear? Is it concise? Does it contain the tone that I want? Who do I want to communicate with? What is the content? How often? Communication is not just about the ‘message.’ The greater skill in ‘communicating’ has to do with how I listen. Am I listening to understand, or are my assumption and biases in the way of the deeper understanding? Over the years I have found that my communication was at its best when I had listened with a presence and desire for understanding that broadened my ability to craft a better, more concise, more meaningful message when it was my turn to speak/write.
Critical thinking, for me, is the ability to think reflectively and independently in order to make a thoughtful decision. This requires work. It is part of my reflection on am I reacting or am I responding? What assumptions or biases are at work in my thinking? Critical thinking may seem like a ‘strange’ area to focus on, but my observation is that with the speed with which information and business moves, we have lost some of the discipline we need to make good decisions. I believe that to conduct business and life well requires me/us to have the discipline of reflection and contemplation so that we can live/work with informed intention concerning the direction of our lives and work. As a leader, and a parent, I believe that we should be looking forward to every situation where we can educate. Education is that act of ‘calling forth’ the information from another. Yes, there are times when we will ‘teach’ because the knowledge doesn’t exist, but I believe our best work comes when we are able to help draw out the information that lies within. When we help others to discover their answers, they are more motivated to go develop the best version of themselves.
The next area I would reflect on is innovation. Over time there is an allure to ‘doing what we have always done.’ Whether we like to admit it or not, we like developing certain ‘patterns’ to our lives because then we don’t have to think or work as hard. The path that is well worn may be comfortable, but it may not be best. I want to be curious. Curiosity requires more questions than answers. A phrase I used to use with my work teams was, “Is there another right answer? Is there another way to look at this?” These questions are useful in forcing us to think deeper and broader than we might be comfortable with. They are also the questions that help us ‘imagine’ another way; unlocking creativity that leads to another way. It leads to innovation.
Lastly, Strategy is the plan we use to help us reach our vision (our view of the future). This vision can be about ourselves, or about our work/company. Are we pursuing a plan that has the best chance for helping us achieve our goal/vision? Is what we are doing getting us what we want? Reflecting on strategy always helped me to determine if the direction were heading was where we wanted to go. Were the assumptions from the prior year, or longer, still true? What changes had occurred in environment (technology, competitiveness, client growth, workforce changes) that needed to be re-examined? I spent time on this last because the other areas had more of a personal element of how I was doing in each of those areas compared to strategy, which tended to include more of a ‘group think’ approach. I found it important to reflect first on what I was doing that was working, or not, before I reflected on the value of the overall strategy.
The final area of reflection for the new year had to do with how I was caring for my four energy centers (Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, Spiritual – PIES). How I ‘show up’ has a lot to do with that care. Who I am in life has everything to do with these centers. Our energy is our only renewable resource. The quality of our relationships, our abilities at work, our ability to be pursue our desires, to be at our very best, all stem from this energy. If we are ‘off center’ in any of our PIES we will be and bring something less than.
How do you want to show up in 2019? What’s most important? Is it in the area of your health, your family, your development, your work, your career? What will you have if you are able to achieve what is most important? What will it take to look back on 2019 next December and say, “This was a really good year.”?
(Past Executive Director National Hospital Collector's Assoc and Agency President)
To your journey and living out the best version of you…
Leadership Vision, LLC performs coaching and consulting services in the areas of strategy mapping, key decision processes, pay-for-performance planning, executive succession and transition planning, leadership development and effectiveness, and execution (performance management). They work with owners, senior leadership, and emerging leaders as well as teams. Jim puts it succinctly, “Whether we work in business, or with private individuals, our passion is to have these individuals find the place where they can excel, bringing increased performance in their business lives and greater satisfaction in their personal lives."
In agile, complex, collaborative organizations, there is a direct connection between the quality of information flow and the quality of results. Shared context (or shared consciousness as described in the great book Team of Teams by General McChrystal) is a fundamental requirement for smart coordination, empowered execution, and distributed decision making. However, many organizations find themselves stuck with an information dam – or an information flood – or both.
Dams: Some organizations are plagued with places where information abruptly stops. Maybe it’s a level of leadership that doesn’t consistently cascade key messages to their teams. Or it’s decisions that don’t get written down. It could be an obscure place on the intranet that only Dan knows about. Or it might get stuck behind a password, when it needs to be in the wild. Some dams are deliberate – the result of outdated beliefs that hording information is a path to power. But most are accidental.
Floods: Many organizations have the opposite problem: A flood of information in the form of hundreds of emails, IMs, Slack channels, Box links, Team sites, intranet, server folders, update meetings, dashboards, and more. Even the list is overwhelming. Information flooding is almost always the result of thousands of well-meaning acts that add up to a deluge. No wonder knowledge workers spend 20% of their time hunting for information.
It’s said that information is power, but it’s far more accurate to say that relevant information is power. The rest is just noise.
Getting information to flow correctly is possible, but it demands intention, design, and discipline. As a first step, pull your team together to assess the current state within your organization. Where is information getting stuck behind a dam? Are people overwhelmed by a flood of channels, emails and update meetings? If it’s not where you want it to be, consider these questions:
Use your insights from the conversation to start taking concrete steps forward. We’ll talk about some of the more complex ideas in a future article. For now, these two no-regrets moves are a great place to start.
1. Stop “defaulting” to email
Is email your go-to for sharing information? Before you hit send again, consider these significant shortcomings: Attachments are immediately out of date, it’s very easy to lose the thread when multiple people are responding, content isn’t easily reference-able or reusable in the future, and the recipient (consumer) can’t control what he or she sees. There’s no way to add or remove yourself from an email. We suggest limiting it to specific use cases:
When you do use it, help your recipients manage their information flow:
2. Establish team practices for using Slack (or Microsoft Teams or other…)
If you are one of the over 8 million daily users of Slack, you know its power to transform the way information flows across an organization. But like any tool, you run the risk of misusing it. We suggest your team adopt these practices:
The ability to collaborate requires people have access to the right information at the right time. These steps will make a meaningful difference in your team’s day to day operations.
By Shani Harmon and Renee Cullinan
Avoiding common pitfalls to become a better leader. As a chief people officer, I have a front-row seat to watch some leadership careers flourish - and some crash and burn. Here are the five most critical mistakes that derail promising careers.
1. You think you have to know everything.
I once worked with a leader who could never admit that he didn't know the answer to a question. There'd be a brief flash of panic in his eyes, then a hasty, "Uh ... our central office is handling that" or "That project will be done in ... six months." He was clearly making it up on the spot. In his effort to look capable, he made the situation far worse - and he no longer holds that leadership role. Leaders often make the mistake of thinking, "I'm the leader, so I can't ask questions. I'm paid to have the answers!" This instinct usually comes from a good place - we all want to be credible. But, you don't earn credibility by pretending to be infallible.Instead, building true credibility requires a strong dose of humility. It means admitting you don't know if the central office is handling that project, but you'll find out and follow up. It means owning your mistakes and apologizing when you're wrong. Showing a bit of vulnerability might seem counterintuitive, but it often increases your credibility, and therefore, your effectiveness as a leader.
2. You don't trust your team.
Micromanaging is a common symptom of this lack of trust: needing to approve everything, hesitating to delegate even the smallest task. Even though I know better, I still catch myself on occasion assigning projects to capable team members, then fighting the urge to look over their shoulder. I have to remind myself of the many great things they've done on their own and let them do their jobs. Otherwise, micromanaging will destroy creativity, shut down initiative and disengage teams.I had a call this morning from some members of a demoralized front line team. Their leader asked their opinion all the time, but rarely incorporated their input into her final decision. In the end, this leader simply didn't trust that the team might have greater insight than she did.
If you go through the motions of involving your team while always doing what you planned anyway, your team will quickly pick up on it. And the next time you need their best thinking, don't be surprised if you're met with silence.
3. You let uncomfortable situations fester.
Ineffective leaders let uncomfortable situations, critical conversations or performance issues go unaddressed, because they don't know how to address it without being unkind. When in reality, the kinder, more considerate thing to do - for the employee, team and the organization - is to address problems head-on. A Harris Poll survey found that "a stunning majority (69 percent) of the managers said that they're often uncomfortable communicating with employees." One solution? Catch problems when they're small. Leaders often hope that if they ignore these situations, they will somehow resolve on their own. But, waiting only causes the situation to get bigger, hairier and more difficult to address.
4. You focus on short-term wins at the expense of long-term results.
I recently had a leader whose team felt like he had no time for them, that they were just a means to an end. The situation got so bad that his top performer quit. When I approached him about the problem, he said, "I wish I had time to have one-on-ones with these people every week, but I don't."
Curious, I asked him what he did see as his No. 1 priority. He replied, "The most important thing in my role is to hit our revenue number." And I said, "See, that's where we view things differently. I think your most important role is to help your team hit the number."It's a subtle shift. Ineffective leaders get so focused on results that they lose sight of the people who produce those results. They often excuse less-than-ideal behavior by saying, "We have to hit the number at all costs." And I want to respond, "Really, at all costs? Because you just destroyed the very thing that was going to hit the number next quarter."Great leaders, effective leaders achieve results in a way that allows them to get those results over and over again.
5. You're stuck in old ways of working.
This is not a generational issue. People - older, younger, in-between - are working differently, with nontraditional hours, remote locations and virtual communication. Call it life balance or more of a holistic approach to careers, but people want flexibility. The worst leaders resist it; the best leaders leverage it. In a study of a 20,000-person organization, a Stanford researcher found:
The researcher, Professor Michael Bloom, said to Insights by Stanford Business, "For employees, they're much more productive and happier. For managers, you don't have to spend so much time recruiting and training people. For firms, you make far more profit. For society, there's a huge saving of reducing congestion, driving times and, ultimately, pollution ... There's not much to lose, and there's a lot to gain." I completely agree. You can get the greatest talent in the planet if you're willing to break from tradition.
By Todd Davis
When entrepreneurs talk about the risks their businesses face, they most frequently mention concerns in areas such as capital (e.g., having enough to fund operations or growth), competition (e.g., being able to stay ahead of what their competitors are doing), or the economy (e.g., being prepared for how an economic downturn will impact sales). On occasion they mention HR-related risks, but their concerns usually focus on being able to hire people who have the skills to do what they need done - a valid concern to be sure. But, there’s another costly and very damaging risk that often gets overlooked - hiring a “skills-competent” employee who is completely wrong for the organization. When this happens, the result can be a seismic disturbance that can keep the company off-balance long after that employee is gone.
Max, a start-up entrepreneur, knows this experience first-hand. “I have a small team,” he says. “There were just eight of us in our first year. I was very intentional in the hiring process. I knew that I couldn’t afford to have poor performers or employees who weren’t willing to work really hard so that we could meet our early milestones. I offered compensation packages that were competitive to what big firms offer in order to attract the kind of top talent I wanted. I leveraged my networks to find talent who came highly recommended. I felt like I was doing everything I needed to do. ”He soon found out that wasn’t enough. “Everyone worked really hard and knew how to do their jobs,” he continued, “but there was one employee who almost from the very beginning was a problem. Her attitude, the way she interacted with coworkers, the way she interacted with me, the way she interacted with clients even - it was all so problematic.”
According to Max, the employee was in charge of his business development effort and was responsible for generating most of the early-stage company’s revenues. She was combative and frequently got into arguments with her coworkers. She didn’t follow company procedures and once told a coworker that the rules didn’t apply to her. She shared too much, and inappropriate, information with customers which sometimes made them uncomfortable. So why did Max tolerate her behavior? “Because she was knocking the cover off the ball,” he says. “She was exceeding her revenue targets from the very beginning and we were growing much faster than plan. How many start-ups can say that?”
After five months, Max says he noticed that his team was coming apart at the seams. “No one was speaking to her. They couldn’t stand to be in the same room with her. They stopped sharing information with her. And the team’s morale was in the pits. Not a whole lot of work was getting done and I was spending a lot of my time, too much of my time, refereeing. It was a disaster. And all that great growth momentum we had been building came to a crashing halt. ”Max decided to terminate the employee. By the time he did, he estimates that the ordeal had cost him more than $100,000 and set his business plan back several months. “When I factor in her compensation, the hours I spent refereeing and not working, the cost to replace her and the lost productivity of the team when no one would work with her, I think that number is actually conservative. It took us about two months after she left to get morale up and get everyone pulling in the same direction again.”
One Bad Apple
The cost of a bad hire can crush a small business. By some estimates, it can cost as much as $240,000 before the employee is terminated. Much of this is due to the fact that business owners don’t pull the trigger fast enough when they see red flags .According to human resource and leadership development expert Nancy Harris, CEO of Restart Consulting, business owners need to do their homework and be prepared to act when they see problems. “People think hiring is easy,” she says. “It isn’t. Understand what’s important to you beyond whether the individual can do the task you are hiring them for. Ask yourself what kind of culture you want to create. We tend to forget about the intangible things that can end up negatively impacting the company’s culture. ”Harris recommends that business owners incorporate behavior-based questions into their interview process. “These kinds of questions get to the heart of characteristics versus skills,” she says. “Focus on things like Challenge-Action-Result. What challenge did you face? What action did you take? What was the result? You can learn a lot about a person’s behavior from this.”
Harris recommends that business owners look to resources from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) for help understanding how to conduct this type of interview. She also offers these tips to entrepreneurs:
Looking back, Max says he wishes he’d given more thought to what a bad employee looks like beyond just being a poor performer. “Culture is a real thing, man,” he says. “Someone can come in and really throw your organization into chaos. And it can cost you a lot of money.”
By Ivy Walker
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