In previous entries of this blog, I advocate for managers to use a log to track performance incidents of notes. I provide a beginner version, an intermediate version, and an advanced version. This is a log that can be kept in a simple spreadsheet, and has many benefits to help you become a better manager – namely – you can remember what was going on with various people on your team! Other benefits and a discussion of the potential drawbacks and pitfalls are found here.
In today’s post, I provide an example for how to use the performance log. First, I don’t advocate using the log for everything that goes on with each of your employees. This is too much work and likely will create a lot of noise for what would have been a useful tool. Instead, I advocate to use it only for performance issues that you want to track and have an impact if the behavior changes. The focus in this article is on negative behaviors that need to be corrected, but a performance log should also be used for positive behaviors that need to be reinforced.
Here’s the scenario:
Trevor has been observed sleeping during meetings. In some instances, meeting participants wake him up, and in other incidents they just started throwing office supplies at his head. This hasn’t happened all the time, but he has been observed nodding off in other situations, and his previous boss from a year ago has mentioned it to you, in a joking manner. People have told you that he has said that he’s stayed out too late a few times lately. Read more
Another example of how to switch from the dreaded strengths and weaknesses discussion to a strategic, productive discussion
I have been writing a lot lately about how managers are requested to discuss and document employees’ strengths and weaknesses. My conclusion: This is absurd and damaging. However, knowing the strengths and weaknesses of your team is a necessary and important part of people management indeed. So instead of putting your team member on the spot to list out strengths and weaknesses and then documenting these with a development plan, I propose instead engaging in a strategic discussion with the employee on what’s best for the organization and the employee. Today, I’ll demonstrate how to transition from the dreaded annual review discussion of strengths and weaknesses to a more appropriate strategic discussion that provides value for you, the organization and your employee. Let’s go! Read more
In my previous posts (here and here), I explored the often absurd and damaging results that often occur when pursuing discussions about an employee’s weaknesses. In many cases, managers are formally requested to discuss with their employee’s strengths and weaknesses during the annual review process, with confusing, if not angering results.
Absurd, damaging, confusing, angering – these are pretty harsh words. But surely, Walter, there have to be times when discussing weaknesses with an employee is appropriate? Of course there are! They should be strategic and collaborative discussions that are designed to drive the organization forward using the abilities of the employee.
Instead of having a discussion about the employee’s strengths and weaknesses, the discussion should be centered around where the employee’s skills – whether strong or weak – best fit in the organization’s needs, and how they can be leveraged to the maximum benefit for both the organization and the employee.
Here are some example situations. Read more
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 kind of language that is decidedly NOT behavior-based: Language that makes generalizations about an employee’s behavior, and language that that makes value-judgments. In these posts, I make the case that there is no use for this, even in the effort to be efficient. In today’s post, I attempt to describe what behavior-based language is.
By its nature, language is a slippery thing, so I don’t make the assumption that there is a clear distinction between what is and is not behavior-based. What I advocate is for managers to at least attempt to slide in the direction of behavior-based language in performance discussions with their employees.
This is the first of two parts identifying if you are using language that is behavior-based:
If you manage people, an important skill to have is the ability to consciously use of behavior-based language. This is also known as performance-based language.
This is the second of a series of posts providing tips on how to increase use behavior-based language. In the first post, I described how generalizations, in an effort to be efficient, tend to undermine the intent of changing the employee’s behaviors. A similar mistake that managers tend to make is using value judgments. Using value judgments is an effort to summarize the net impression that an employee is making, but the problem is that this summary completely clouds the behaviors that the employee is doing. Instead, if the value judgment is a negative one, it comes across as a personal attack to the employee. That’s because it is, in essence, a personal attack on an employee.
Here are some examples of value judgments a manager may make in regards to an employee:
You’re not good enough
You don’t have what it takes
Your heart’s not into it
You’re not cutting it
You’re too wordy
Your work is shoddy
If you manage people, one skill you need to develop is the conscious use of behavior-based language. This is also known as performance-based language. This is the first in a series discussing how to transition your language to be more behavior-based.
Behavior-based language is using language that attempts to describe specific behaviors, rather than language that makes generalizations or value judgments. In today’s post, I’ll discuss a common management mistake: Using generalizations.
Examples of generalizations (or generalized language) a manager may use:
“You always show up late for work”
“You don’t seem to know what you’re doing.”
“You’re trying really hard, but it isn’t working out.”
“Your code isn’t up to par.”
“You’re doing a great job!”
“You’re doing a terrible job!”
In my previous post, I introduced the idea that the more specific and more immediate the performance feedback you provide to someone, the more artistically you’re executing the skill. I used the analogy of directing someone to hang a picture to illustrate the point.
OK, let’s translate this to the workplace and see what it looks like. You are managing someone who just presented to a division leader on a proposal to upgrade the technology. In this scenario, you have the opportunity to provide feedback. The most artful is the most specific and the most immediate: Read more