4 Things High Performers Want From Managers

4 Things High Performers Want From Managers

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”

  1. Inspire them to high levels of effort
  2. Energize them to achieve exceptional results
  3. Create an atmosphere of continual improvement
  4. 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.

Always a Crisis- Part 1

Always a Crisis- Part 1

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

What does a High Performer Look Like?

What does a High Performer Look Like?

“10 Competencies of the High Performer”

A great infographic image from management consulting firm CEB gives you a quick list of the 10 competencies in high performing players. (I have grouped them by categories.)


  • Works well on teams
  • Able to influence
  • Possesses self and organizational awareness

Work habits:

  • Agile learner
  • Able to prioritize

Decisions/ results:

  • Effective problem solver
  • Decision maker
  • Proactive


  • Technology savvy

Good judgment, team player, aware and influential, quick learner?

Who wouldn’t want these players on their team!

I think you will agree this list is on-target. The challenge is finding these people and then getting them to join your team…

The graphic also indicates 4 ways to be sure you are providing the “Care and Feeding” that high performers expect, or they will take their high demand skills elsewhere.

Learn more about how you can use the People Plan to find, build and reward your “Hi Performers” below.


Do you have a Scrooge leading your team?

Do you have a Scrooge leading your team?

Does “Scrooge” the manager still exist?

I love this holiday themed article by research group Zenger & Folkman. They research the key differences between high and low performing managers, and recently searched their database of 45,000 managers to identify the Scrooges.

They defined the Scrooge as a leader who is very task focused (drives for results) but has low consideration, and found that less than 1% of managers fit this profile (good news, unless you work there!). You know the type, like Danny Devito in the movie “Other People’s Money” running around yelling “back to work” to his frantic staff loitering outside their cubicles.

Despite the unpleasantness associated with this management style, is there any impact of driving for results while showing limited concern for employees’ needs and perceptions?

Actually, yes—how about the fact that new Scrooges have one-third fewer engaged employees than high impact managers!

The article published in Forbes doesn’t advocate for the opposite set of leadership behaviors (high consideration but low results orientation), as these managers are likeable but may not have high performing teams due to low accountability. This style often frustrates employees because poor performance is tolerated. In the Zenger research, employees with these types of “good guy” managers were only 3% more engaged than those that worked for the Scrooges (49% vs 46% engaged).

Decades of leadership studies have shown that the optimal leadership style focuses on both the task and the people – this achieves accountability and results through positive coaching. In the Zenger dataset, these manager’s style had a huge impact on increased employee engagement- 76% engaged employees (vs 46% for the low consideration manager who drives for results.)

To learn more about how to achieve this balance in your performance discussions, view our video “performance discussions” in the resource section of our free membership .

Link to the article:


Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Wrong manager is chosen 82% of the time

Wrong manager is chosen 82% of the time

Want passionate engaged employees?

Then you need a passionate engaged manager with great leadership and coaching ability. One who focuses on productivity, accountability, and also cares about and builds trust with his or her team.

According to Gallup research, they say only 10% of people have the innate talent to do this, and that about another 20% can be effective if they are provided coaching and development to hone these elusive skills.

Gallup found 5 key behaviors that differentiated great managers from the poor ones (quoted verbatim):

  1. They motivate every single employee to take action and engage employees with a compelling mission and vision.
  2. They have the assertiveness to drive outcomes and the ability to overcome adversity and resistance.
  3. They create a culture of clear accountability.
  4. They build relationships that create trust, open dialogue, and full transparency you could check here.
  5. They make decisions based on productivity, not politics.

If the Fortune 500 can’t find good managers, how can your firm?
The good news is that people exist in your organization and in your neighborhood with these talents. The trick is to find them, develop them and give them a good team to work with.

If you have one or more managers, here are your action steps to find out if you have the right person in the right role:

  • Evaluate your current team for job fit (those in manager roles and those you see a high potential for that role in the future)- using a combination of personality assessment, performance analysis, and co-worker feedback
  • Coach and train you managers to build relationships (focus on the people) while emphasizing productivity and accountability (focus on the task)
  • Move those that are not succeeding in the role to another position

If you do not develop great managers, you are guaranteed to disengage everyone and are likely lose your top performers. They will leave to find a better manager somewhere else.

Read full Harvard Business Review blog article

Photo  Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Sinking or Swimming After a Promotion?

Sinking or Swimming After a Promotion?

It’s a common story- Jane was great at her job– a quick learner eager to do more. So you gave her more– a whole lot more. But now she seems overwhelmed, unsure, and downright frazzled.

Will she start swimming and get her head back above water?

It depends—does she lack easily trainable skills or is the gap due to a mismatch of personality or competency?
The first step when you encounter the aftermath of a well-meaning major assignment or promotion is to chat with Jane. Where does she think she is struggling? Is there a specific area you can pinpoint where a bit of support or coaching would help?

Let’s say you promoted Jane to a team leader for her customer service group, and her tasks now include scheduling 10 reps across two shifts, weekly reports for the manager, and handling escalated calls. This is in addition to continuing to work as a customer service rep.

Option 1- Time and Training will work

As an example of a quick fix- Jane A explains that she is still learning the scheduling software and this is taking several more hours for her to complete the weekly schedule. This has caused her to finish the weekly department report late. She anticipates that she will be on track in a week or two, as she is quickly mastering this complicated tool. You suggest that she has the manager spends a few minutes showing her how he uses shortcuts to expedite that task. After two weeks she is indeed on top of the new assignment’s and on time.

Option 2- Re-evaluate Job Fit and Duties

On the other hand, Jane B seems to be avoiding the weekly reports in favor of taking customer calls. She reports that she has not “had time” to train on the scheduling module. Last week she hastily put together on an incomplete schedule that didn’t provide enough coverage during peak hours. The first two weeks her weekly reports were 5 days late and missing key data. In your conversations, it seems that Jane may lack the planning and organizing competency that these new tasks require to be effective. To be fair, you ask her manager to give her a bit more training on how to do those tasks, to see if training will be the answer. But if she does not start making improvements in a few weeks, you might conclude the pattern of job fit is at work.

Want to learn more?
Find out how about how to identify the three main reasons someone isn’t keeping up (gap in ability, motivation or values) in our webinar “Evaluating Your Current Team for Job Fit.”
See our current webinar schedule and register here: People Plan Webinars

Image Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net.