When an employee does something wrong, it’s not always about the person. It’s about the system, too.
The Manager by Design blog provides tips for how to be a great manager. A task many managers neglect is that of providing performance feedback. This task is an art, and Managers tend not to do it well or in a timely manner.
One reason for this is that it isn’t always clear that the employee’s behavior is incorrect, even if a situation goes badly, or is in the midst of an organization’s dysfunction. Situations are often dynamic, complicated and difficult, and the larger forces that went into the employee’s behavior may be more at issue than the employee’s behavior itself.
In situations like this, there are two common paths that managers take:
1) Try to correct the employee’s behavior to fit within the bad situation or dysfunction
2) Ignore the employee’s behavior because it is a dysfunctional situation
In both of these paths, you’ll notice the issue of the difficult situation is not addressed. Either the manager tries to make the employee more dysfunctional, or the manager passively lets the dysfunction get worse. Neither works.
Let’s go through an example: Read more
Behavior-based language primer for managers: Examples of how to improve employee corrective feedback and how to get rid of damaging adverbs
An important skill for any manager is to use behavior-based language. This is the latest in a series of primers that help managers modify their language so that they can better focus on an employee’s performance, rather than make the mistake of (mis)characterizing the employee’s value through generalized language or value judgments.
An important step in improving your behavior-based language skills is to reduce the use of adverbs, as they are merely shortcuts that undermine your ability to describe and improve an employee’s performance. In my previous post, I described the process of removing adverbs to improve behavior-based language using examples of positive feedback to an employee. In today’s post, I do the same for corrective feedback.
The intent for corrective feedback is to have the employee stop doing one thing, and start doing another. Using adverbs in your corrective feedback creates a haze over this process, and will likely confuse the employee receiving the feedback. Here are some examples of things managers tend to say that are decisively not behavior-based (and therefore should not be said):
You really let me down.
You’re totally not focused on the right things.
You’re very indecisive.
You make way too many errors.
You’re always late.
The Manager by Design blog explores the core skills that managers need to be good at being managers. A key skill is the ongoing use of behavior-based language. In previous posts, I discussed the need to avoid making generalizations and stop making value-judgments. I’ve also provided the markers for what good behavior-based language looks like. In today’s post, I provide another marker of behavior-based language: Refraining from using adverbs and superlatives.
Step #1: Remove adverbs when describing or discussing your employee’s performance
If you use the common words “very”, “really,” “totally” or “completely” to describe your employee’s performance, you are using adverbs. Adverbs such as these have no place in using behavior-based language and they should be removed. Removing the adverb from the sentence will elevate the objectivity of the statement without sacrificing the content:
|With Adverb||Without Adverb|
|Joe was very effective at closing the sale.||Joe was effective at closing the sale.|
|Mark totally addresses customer needs.||Mark addresses customer needs.|
|Janet really works at finding and resolving bugs.||Janet works at finding and resolving bugs.|
|Rene completely finished her work items.||Rene finished her work items.|
The Manager by Design blog advocates for a new field called Management Design. The idea is that the creation of great and effective Managers in organizations should not occur by accident, but by design. Currently, the creation of great managers falls under diverse, mostly organic methods, which create mixed results at best. This is the latest of a series that explores the existing designs that create managers in organizations. Today’s design: Make the loudest person the manager.
“Loud” in this context can mean many different things:
–The person with the most booming voice
–The person who is quick to raise his or her voice
–The person who speaks up the most
–The person who makes the most dramatic flourishes
–The person who enjoys public speaking the most
–The person who shouts others down
The main benefit of this “design” is that you get ready-built confidence and appearance of authority. It also is intuitive that the person who is loudest seems to have the most “natural leadership ability” and can “command the room” the best. This is great design if this is what your conception of what a manager is – someone who stands before others, commanding and billowing orders. It’s a common notion that has rung true through the years. The opposite of this seems very hazardous: A “technocrat” who is “meek” and doesn’t know how to lead. Thus it is a popular design: Promote the loudest and the others will follow.
But there are some problems with this design. Read more
In my previous posts, I described a common mistake that managers make in regards to meetings: Calling mandatory meetings. In subsequent posts, I’ve listed criteria what makes a meeting more compelling from the participants’ view, and how you can even measure and track your meeting quality based on this criteria. In this post, provide nine baseline tips for making meetings more compelling, and helping you move your meetings up the meeting quality index.
1) Wait until there is a reason to call a meeting.
Instead of scheduling a regular meeting, and then try to find a use for it as that meeting approaches, wait until there is a reason for the meeting, and then call the meeting. For large groups, sometimes it is difficult to find a meeting time at the last minute, so the way to work around this is to have a regular meeting scheduled (such as a quarterly meeting). But if you don’t have immediate and obvious ideas for what will fill that time with, then cancel the meeting. Even if you have paid a deposit on the room, you’ll still save money if you don’t have immediate ideas for what the meeting is for.
This is part of a series of posts designed to help break the mandatory meeting cycle. The better you make the meetings, the less you’ll need to make them mandatory. In my previous post, I described some basic criteria for what makes a meeting valuable and compelling to the attendees. With these criteria, you can start to measure the quality of your meetings or any meeting you attend.
After a meeting, it is often ambiguous whether the meeting was a success. The person calling the meeting may have obtained or shared the information they wanted to, but was it a compelling meeting?
Here are some ways to measure whether the meeting was compelling – for all participants. You can then chart this out and create an index over time to create a leading indicator index of meeting quality that you or your team members attend. Read more
How do you make meetings more compelling? This is the latest of a series of blog posts discussing how to transition from making meetings mandatory to having an organization with meetings that people actually want to attend.
Many meetings are not compelling, they are just required. Meetings should be required to be compelling. I previously discussed some alternatives to even calling a meeting – if it is unidirectional communication, then a meeting isn’t necessary. In today’s post, I discuss the criteria for what makes a meeting useful and compelling, and thus not required to be mandatory.
Your basic goal should not be attendance at the meeting. Your goal should be instead to create value in the meeting, whether it is a large group meeting or a small team meeting.
Here is my set of criteria for what compels an employee to attend any meeting, whether or not it is deemed mandatory:
The first step to getting out of the mandatory meeting cycle: Don’t call meetings if you were planning one-way communication
In my previous posts (here and here), I discussed why calling “mandatory” meetings is a bad idea. It doesn’t work at getting more attendance and it creates contempt for the meeting before it even started. Yet, many meetings are still called “mandatory”. This blog post is the first in a series dedicated to help you break the cycle of making meetings mandatory.
As explained in the prior posts, if you feel compelled to make a meeting mandatory, then it is an indicator that the meeting isn’t worth having.
So the first question should be: Is the meeting format even necessary?
If you were planning to convey information to your team or group – and had no plans for additional interaction — then the meeting format isn’t necessary. This is also true of other “guest speakers” you may have planned. If they were planning to talk in front of the group – and nothing more—then the meeting isn’t necessary. Read more
In my previous post, I discussed why mandatory meetings create a bad dynamic for your group or your team. The post centered on the cycle that the people who don’t want to attend – the ones that compelled you to make it mandatory – end up sabotaging your meeting anyway, making it a bad experience for you, the ones who wanted to attend, and the ones who didn’t want to attend.
But there are more reasons you should consider not making any meetings mandatory. And here they are:
Reason number 1: You can’t get everyone to attend anyway
This is an obvious point, but one that seems to be lost on many managers who require attendance at meetings. For any given meeting, there is going to be a group of people who will not or cannot attend. Read more