In my previous post, I provided five reasons a manager should keep a log that documents an employee’s behaviors and performance. The log does not have to be exhaustive, but having a log is better than not having a log. The easiest way to get started is to use a spreadsheet. If you can handle creating your own spreadsheet, here are the fields that you should add to the log. This is the beginner version. In my next blog entries, I’ll provide some intermediate and advanced fields.
Here’s something I rarely observe managers do, but is immanently useful and helpful: Keep a log of the employee’s behaviors and performance.
Here are a few reasons why it is useful:
1) It will help you remember all the stuff that happens over the course of the year
A lot of stuff happens of the course of the year, and it is hard to remember all of the details about what happened, what you said, what the employee did, and what were the results. A week after an event, it’s easy to forget that something ever happened. And when the situation is complex, it’s even harder to remember. If you have a team larger than three people, which describes most managers, this is especially useful.
In my previous post, I discussed the scenario where an employee’s behavior is poor, but it is plausible that the employee acted consistently and as one would expect him to behave, so it really isn’t clear that the behavior is poor. The example I used was the case of Jacob, who makes a tactical error of taking efforts to get around resistances and get in front of the VP to get her attention on a proposal. The VP turns then turns around and asks you to rein in Jacob, although this tactic has worked before for Jacob. What do you do?
Do you tell Jacob that he did a bad job, that he upset the VP, and to not confront the VP anymore? Do you ignore the request by the VP to “rein in Jacob?” In this post, I’d like to discuss a way to analyze the situation. In the next post, I’ll describe how to approach the conversation with Jacob.
Providing performance feedback is a neglected art in people management. In a prior article, I discussed how the more specific and more immediate the feedback, the more artful it is. Today, I discuss something that should be obvious but isn’t always observed when managers provide feedback: At least try to provide the correct course of action. This is the constructive part of constructive feedback.
Many managers seem comfortable saying that they don’t like the output, actions or performance of an employee. They may even believe that this qualifies as providing feedback. Here are some examples of some less than artistic “feedback” managers may give:
“You didn’t do it right. Fix it.”
“I don’t like it.”
“I don’t agree with this.”
“This isn’t what I had in mind.”
“This is all wrong.”
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 are a manager, you may value loyalty in your employees. You may even express this in your presentation to your employees as part of your values. However, if you ask for loyalty, then you are attempting a short cut. Loyalty is a lagging indicator that you can obtain only several years down the road. If you treat it like a leading indicator by asking for it initially, then you probably have lost some loyalty in your employees, defeating the purpose. Here’s how it works: Read more
In my previous post, I described how managers can use the What-How grid to identify a more complete view of performance of their team members. In the posting, I discussed how this grid aids managers in identifying which areas of performance feedback they should be receiving. In this post, I’ll discuss how you can further use the grid to make better strategic decisions in running your team. Read more
A common mistake for managers is to assess team members by their technical ability or production alone. That is, the one with the most technical ability or volume of output is the primary rating that is taken into account. For example, let’s say you have someone on your team with a unique skill that is very valuable to the team. They can do the skill very well, and having this expertise is highly prized and appreciated. Thank goodness for having this person on the team!
A second common mistake for managers is to assess team members by their ability to work with others on the team. That is, one with the most ability to get along and interact is the primary rating that is taken into account. For example, let’s say you have someone on your team with the unique ability to interact with others. They can do this very well, and having this positive influence is highly prized and appreciated. Thank goodness for having this person on the team! Read more
In my previous post, I explored the reasons behind why so many performance reviews go badly, and the choices that a manager has when there is disagreement of what was documented in the annual performance review. From the employee’s perspective, when there is disagreement, it is a surprise review. None of the choices are good for either the employee or the manager when this happens, so it needs to be avoided.
Here are some tips for managers on how to avoid the tense and toxic review: Read more
In my previous post, I wondered how many managers were aware of the performance management process, a systematic way to address poorly performing employees. My conclusion: not many. One reason is that performance management is often hidden beneath a larger framework that involves setting goals, doing performance reviews, and the like. Dealing with performance problems gets lost in this.
In doing a Google search for “Performance Management”, I get results for the larger concept of managing performance of a workforce, which aspires holistically to improve how at the organizational level using goals, and career development as a starting point. It is also associated with the “Performance Review” process (which suffices for some organizations as the only venue to “performance manage” their employees).
These aspirations for holistic performance management of an entire workforce are admirable, and is an important thrust of this blog. But if you have a problematic employee, you need to deal with the situation now. If all you see when you look up “performance management” is how it is important to develop employees and establish goals, it’s easy to miss that this is the process you use to correct and remove toxic behaviors on your team. No wonder it’s such a secret!
“Performance Management” is advertised as an organizational solution (“OK everyone, let’s write goals by the end of the month!”), but it is a very practical individual solution. For those management designers out there—consider getting your managers on board with the performance management process by starting with dealing with for low performers first, and then add style points (goals, development) later in developing your performance management process.
So, without further ado, here is the high level “Performance Management” process for those individuals who are causing problems in your org. Read more