Many organizations realize that “prior job experience” is only one element that determines success in a job role.
Since 82% of managers are in the wrong job— mid-size and large employers are looking toward other indicators to use for selection, career paths, training and development.
A new software for small business owners is called “17 hats” – and I think this accurately reflects the roles of a small business owner. You are chief everything officer (sales, people, operations, marketing, accounting, customer service), cheerleader and spokesperson, and as my family says “chief bottlewasher!” (if it needs to get done, you will do it.)
So it is no wonder you feel like you don’t have time to coach your team members monthly (much less weekly).
And no doubt some people on your team are easier to coach than others, so you tend to procrastinate in delivering feedback or talking about what would challenge and motivate them.
The data is clear—employees don’t just want daily task discussions (called “Managing by Wandering Around” by Tom Peters)—
Employees want to know how they can contribute, what is the purpose of their work, feedback on results, and that there are opportunities to develop and maximize their strengths at your organization.
This means you need a development plan for each person, coupled with regular two-way discussion on their aspirations and challenging assignments that meet their desired career path. (That is what we mean when we say “coaching.”)
If all of your conversations center around “what are you working on today” then they feel ignored, and will lose interest, commitment, and engagement in your job. (Reminds me of the joke – “I feel like a mushroom, left in the dark and fed manure.”)
Ultimately these unnoticed people will seek employment elsewhere where they can feel appreciated, a sense of accomplishment and contribution.
Or worse, stay in your job as “actively disengaged” working against your team. (Read my article—Want Employees to Tune Out? Ignore Them to find out the huge cost of the disengaged).
Every small business owner or manager can be a motivational, positive, and appreciative leader and implement a rhythm of weekly coaching conversations.
You just need a blueprint and training, and the willingness to learn and get outside your comfort zone to start having real conversations with your staff.
The average manager has 2-3 weeks of paid vacation each year, but most do not use every day off.
Time Magazine cover article for the 6/1/15 edition asked “Who Killed Summer Vacation?”
In fact, this has become so prevalent, there is a commercial featuring kids asking “can we just have one more day?” Pretty heartbreaking!
Do we love our jobs so much that we can’t possibly get away for 5 days at a time? Or are we creating conditions at the office where our teams and colleagues can’t function without our genius and brilliance?
I have a global client with multiple locations in Europe. Last summer we were working on a high priority sales compensation project. I was struck by the attitude of the sales manager from France and the regional operations Director in the UK. They simply mentioned “I am on holiday those two weeks (or month)”—no apologies, no offer to call into the meeting from the beach. And somehow their divisions seemed to survive the summer, and re-emerge in the fall with plenty accomplished.
If you own the company, you truly have no excuse.
What are you doing that can’t wait 5 days?
Who can you train to make decisions while you are gone?
My mother’s wisdom applies here – she used to say “I became a manager when I opened my second store. I had to put systems and people in place, since I couldn’t be there to handle everything.”
What can you do? I say book a 10 day cruise or vacation without email or phone access, and prepare as best you can. Then leave! You would be surprised by how your team can “hold down the fort” without you.
(In fact, have everyone keep a list of things they normally would have discussed with you, but they somehow figured out … then add these things to your training plan for next quarter).
Need some tips for taking charge of your schedule?:
Read my article about how delegation actually leads to more engagement: Engagement Driver 4- Training and Development
Entrepreneur Magazine article- 12 Habits for a Better Work-Life Balance
Zenger Folkman report that employees who are the most satisfied and committed work for leaders who do 4 crucial “behaviors that focus on achieving challenging goals”
- Inspire them to high levels of effort
- Energize them to achieve exceptional results
- Create an atmosphere of continual improvement
- Skillful at getting them to stretch for goals that go beyond what they originally thoughts was possible
BAM- that sounds like a recipe for some high performing work!
To put it another way:
- These managers have a People Plan for each person with mutually beneficial projects and work that are designed to be challenging.
- This “stretch” work naturally develops the team member, and keeps her energized and inspired (and doing her best work).
- Employees feels that “the company provides excellent learning and growth opportunities for my own development.” (This is the key to keeping employees from looking for another job.)
- The positive coaching provided by the manager creates a team culture to perform at a high level, and this positive “peer pressure” continually reinforces the positive behaviors and outcomes.
This is the magic atmosphere where employees are engaged… performing with discretionary extra effort.
The most successful employers have 70-80% engaged employees, the worst 10-20%.
What if 7x more employees were terrific at their job- would that make a different to your team atmosphere and achievement?
If you want your department, your location, your organization to succeed- the key is managers who can positive coach and challenge the team to outperform every day.
My last article (Always a Crisis- Part 1) gave an example of “Chase” – a newly promoted supervisor who is struggling with his promotion to a new role.
I outlined the three main causes of performance gaps and four action steps to uncover the underlying cause and related solutions.
Once you identify the source and jointly develop a performance action plan, we will need to coach weekly towards improvement.
- One possible outcome is that the person is making progress, although possibly not as fast as you would like. Be patient and keep working with someone who is trying their best.
- Another possible outcome is that there is very little noticeable improvement in the first 30 days. Now you have to determine if this is a motivation issue or an ability issue.
Ability scenario – After about 60 days if you continue to witness that the person is “always in crisis,” the solution may be to move back to a role that has a short time span (daily tasks, tasks in natural sequence) rather than important projects.
Sometimes the solution is temporary – scale back the scope of the job with smaller “bites” to allow this person progress in competencies that take time to develop. Sometimes even with a slower development, this person make lack the necessary competencies.
In addition to weekly coaching, a monthly status update (end of month 1, 2, 3) is important to discuss progress and revise your action plan. It is important that you recognize effort and improvement, even if it is not as fast as you desire.
Motivation scenario– Sometimes you find that even with a great training plan, he does not make the expected effort. For example, the person does not complete the training action items or make seem to attempt changes to work habits or other behaviors. This is a symptom of a lack of motivation—it is possible he can do it, but chooses not to. No amount of coaching will improve the athlete if they are not “doing the reps.” Then this is a separate conversation.
If progress is not being made, then a crucial conversation needs to be clear on the potential consequences (change in role, move to another job, loss of job) before it happens.
This is not an easy situation to resolve, and requires a thoughtful and candid approach with a willingness of both parties to work together to identify the source and solutions.
Done well, even with a change back to his old job, you can retain and engage Chase as a valuable team member.
Done poorly, Chase loses engagement and will likely leave in a year or less. Or worse, you ignore the situation and Chase flounders in the job longer, losing his motivation and not providing the performance you need to serve your customers and the rest of the team.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
“Chase left our conversation abruptly. Across the plant floor, he had spotted a problem and rushed to make a correction. He was apologetic on his return. “Sorry, but this is why I called you today. I feel like a two armed octopus. There are eight things that need to happen, but I can only work on two problems at a time. Things get out of control about fifteen minutes into the day. And they never stop. At the end of the day, I look at my boss’ list of projects and the important things never seem to get worked on. There is always a crisis.” (Excerpt from Tom Foster management blog, 11/28/14)
Do you have an employee who is struggles with performing in their new role (either a new hire or an existing person who you gave a different responsibilities)?
How do you think “Chase” is feeling? Delighted this new position is overwhelming? Going home feeling a sense of accomplishment? Feeling like a success? Most likely Chase is disappointed and frustrated, as he wants to do a great job and feel competent.
After all, you thought he had what it takes to this this job well. And you hold the keys to finding out if this is a temporary training issue or a mis-match of his attributes to what is required to fill the role.
If you have a Chase on staff, I recommend evaluating for job fit through the following steps, and then jointly outlining a plan to give him the training, tools, and support to potential succeed.
If you both make an effort to develop his knowledge, skills, and competencies, he has a fair chance to do well.
Three main causes of performance gap, based on ability:
- Person isn’t ready—needs more skill development
- Person needs systems- may excel if given a structured process to plan and monitor work
- Person isn’t a fit to job role- lacks key competencies that are difficult to develop in short term
Your Action Steps
- Evaluate for job fit- identify the cause of gap
- If coachable gaps, jointly create and implement a training action plan with Chase
- Develop and coach on process and systems
- Coach weekly towards improvement. If slow progress be patient and keep going. If there is no noticeable improvement or it is not lasting, more intervention is needed.
See next article for tips on a 90 day coaching plan for performance improvement “Always a Crisis— Part 2”
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net