How do you possibly find out the needs and motivators for each person on your team, and then maximize their strengths and give them what they desire?
After all, your team is made of individuals, all with their own strengths, weaknesses (or as I like to call them, “areas of non-fit”), personality quirks and idiosyncrasies.
As a client’s manager once phrased it, “we have 100 people and we have 100 different personalities! I realize I have to treat each one differently.” Truer words were never spoken, Bill C.
Fortunately, even though every person might need a different approach and respond to individualize coaching, you can start the “strength building process” by categorizing in two key areas: performance and commitment.
In fact, I designed a template that allows you to profile your team on these two key elements, and then created a matching “Action Plan” focus for each one.
Every time I use this “blueprint” with clients, a lightbulb goes off about at least one employee “Oh, that is why I am struggling with this person” or “Oh no, I should have that conversation I have been putting off soon—they might be looking for another job.”
Mapping out your team also helps you prioritize your coach efforts for fast results or avoiding a disaster — by focusing on the most urgent situations first. (A word of caution, don’t ignore the middle for too long, but that is for another blog article.)
We use this proven tool with clients to focus and prioritize weekly coaching conversations for maximum benefit (as part of the development action plan process).
How to get started mapping your team
- Download your copy of the People + Performance Profiler here
- Read the instructions to create your People Profile
After mapping your team, start the discussion and development action plan process to find out what each person wants from your job, and jointly create the path to get there.
If you develop the trust and the relationship with positive and appreciative discussions, they will tell you what motivates and engages them so you can give it to them.
Image provided by stock images, freedigitalimages.net
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
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.