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):
- They motivate every single employee to take action and engage employees with a compelling mission and vision.
- They have the assertiveness to drive outcomes and the ability to overcome adversity and resistance.
- They create a culture of clear accountability.
- They build relationships that create trust, open dialogue, and full transparency you could check here.
- 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.
Determining the cause of a performance issue can be like being a detective– here is a list of 10 major reasons employees “don’t do the job” with possible solutions.
1. They don’t know what to do
2. They think they are doing it
Solution: I read many job descriptions—hundreds per year from dozens of organizations—rarely do they clarify for me the specific job activities and key results areas, much less how the job will be measured. It is difficult to hold someone accountable to results when the manager has not made it crystal clear what those results should be and what s/he has to do to get those results. Otherwise employees just take their best guess and do what seems to be the most urgent.
3. They think something else is more important
Solution: A great survey report showed that employees only agree with managers on 1 out of 3 priorities! Frequent coaching and follow up makes sure that what a person is working on is the highest priority for the job and department. An employee does the best she can reading the tea leaves to guess what her manager thinks is priority. Don’t make them guess… also, remember employees often don’t have the broader view or much information outside of their own activities (and yes, the more they do the better decisions they will make.)
4. They don’t know how to do it
Solution: Work with employee to identify skill or competency to enhance with training, create a training plan with a timeline and hold employee accountable to stick to the plan (even if it means reminding her manager to schedule the time or resources).
5. They are uncomfortable doing it
Solution: Sometimes a little training can increase someone’s confidence and they become “comfortable” with the task and then perform it regularly. More likely this is a symptom of job fit—someone’s personality traits or competencies are not aligned with those required to excel in the job. A classic example is “asking for the sale”— a person who is cooperative (lower assertive) can be trained for years on sales techniques and given scripts, but he is always uncomfortable closing. For job fit, the remedy is to change the job duties to ones that correspond with the person’s strengths and attributes.
Source: Feedback/ Recognition
6. They can do it but don’t want to
7. They are rewarded for not doing it
8. They are not rewarded when they do it
Solution: This is fundamental psychology. People do what is measured and recognized and rewarded. If they are not rewarded (or worse, “punished”) for doing something, most people stop doing it. Sales people don’t like to do paperwork—but they also don’t want to be reminded that they were late 9 of the last 10 weeks—this is powerful feedback.
Often the signals sent by managers are unintended. Do you reward your poor performers by giving extra work to others that you can depend on? Do you remember to praise and even publicly recognize the team that worked last weekend to finish up a project?
For ideas on how to recognize the Right Things, read blog post “Quick Recognition Template”
9. They don’t know why they should do it
Solution: Some people will blindly follow rules, but most want to know the “why” behind something that they are asked to do. It they believe a task or process is x (insert label here: low importance, arbitrary, a waste of time, or just plain stupid), no amount of training will effect a change in behavior. You might get begrudging compliance but that is about it. To get commitment, you have to explain the “why” to change the belief. (Until they believe his IS important, worth my time, etc.)
10. They think their way is better.
Solution: Read the solution above… plus this often happens when you ask someone who is good/ comfortable with the “old way” and now you have a “new way.” And in the beginning, the old way is better since an employee is more comfortable and competent in the old way. A big part of culture change and process change is to overcome the belief that the old way is better.
A key personality trait is openness to new experiences and some people are not. They will cling to the things they know how to do. As a manager you will need to support and coach these employees through the pain and fear that comes with change. Recognize that this is more deep seeded than just a training issue, but a consistent personality trait or a cognitive filter (belief) and be patient and supportive, and work through changing the belief, not just behavior.
As a client’s manager once stated, “if we have 100 people then we have 100 different personalities.” It’s your job as a manager to figure out what is the cause and the solution that works for all the unique individuals on your team.
I have always been an advocate for finding and rewarding a great employee. As the People consultant who I worked with years ago was fond of saying, “it’s never the wrong time to hire the right person.”
And I have examples from personal experience in my family business and at clients who found that the right person can make a huge impact on the work environment, productivity, sales and ultimately profit.
But I want to share an astounding story related recently by a woman entrepreneur who is in one of my business groups.
For months, she was frustrated with the results of the manager in her production operation.
Her business coach continued to advise her to recruit and select another manager, but as we all know, recruiting and selection is TIME CONSUMING. And you worry that the person you finally hire may not be any better than the person you have. And then you have to spend time training the new person…. And the list goes on, so we stall and don’t go looking for the Ideal.
At some point she decided that maybe she would at least look for another candidate, so created a profile of the ideal candidate (Lesson 1– do this before recruiting so that you are attracting the Ideal Candidate).
Then she made a list of the job performance results she really needed, key skills and competencies of an ideal production manager. She said that when she systematically wrote this out, it was not what she was originally thought she needed! (Lesson 2– by systematic and clear about your Ideal Candidate.)
Then she placed a local advertisement describing the ideal candidate and the very detailed position requirements and results.
Who applied?- an applicant who was working at a similar larger production facility that had just closed. She interviewed this candidate and found out that he had the industry skills and knowledge, but more importantly management and leadership skills. After a thorough selection process, she was confident this candidate had a good probability of being an A player. (Lesson 3– Validate, don’t just take someone’s word for their capabilities after one interview.)
Fast forward one month after he started to this business results:
- the crew increased from 55% productivity (plus overtime to get orders out) to 100% productivity with no overtime
- the process was running so smoothly the backlog of 2 weeks to get orders shipped dropped to 2 days
- because she was able to contact customers (instead of putting out fires in the production and shipping area) she sold 64% more sales that month!
And how much more did she pay this new manager? The same as the prior one. Even if he wanted 15% more base pay —would he have been worth it? (Did I mention 64% more sales?)
Lesson 4– So you say you don’t have time to find an A player, and you can’t afford one? What would 10% more productivity or sales do for your profit this year?
Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
When I speak with business owners and managers, they all seem to long for this illusive state of “accountability.”
Typically they mean a desire to trust that employees are doing the Right Things, and are “kept in the loop” when issues arise or things are not being done. Instead, most report that they have to keep a close eye on everyone’s performance, chase people down for status updates, put out big fires because they are not told when a tiny spark starts, and spend a whole bunch of time following up (dare I say nagging?) to get projects moving forward.
So I ask you, is your organization allergic to deadlines? (Thanks to a client for this vivid phrase). What happens when someone is given a task? Do they keep track, report back when progress is made, keep everyone updated, agree to a reasonable deadline and then meet it? How often does this happen (just one person or almost everyone)?
After a client monthly update meeting where there was no progress to report on 6 projects (again), the owner looked at me and said “is this because of me?” Sadly, yes, many managers and owners are allowing their employees to be less than accountable. In fact, many build an atmosphere where this behavior is inadvertently rewarded.
What can you do to create an “Accountability Culture?”
Focus on results
My client was having weekly status update meetings (a great start) but people came without “doing their homework” or had loads of excuses … every week. What message does this send to those that actually hit their commitments and to those that do not? People still do what is rewarded—if going above the norm to actually completed an assigned task is ignored then I might decide not to bother next time. Conversely, if I “get away with” reporting no progress every week, this rewards me as I didn’t have to do anything extra.
Get specific- “Soon” is not a deadline
People do what is expected and measured. If a weekly team meeting includes assigning reasonable deadlines and then people report back that they completed the task by the deadline, this builds an organization with results focus. If one out of ten employees reports every week that “I didn’t get to that” what implied feedback does the one shirking Sally get? After about 3 weeks of eyebrow raises and uncomfortable silence, Sally just might be motivated to complete her tasks so she can report back they were done on time.
Set direction and “inspect what you expect”
The first step is to set expectations (results expected and by when) and then, yes, follow up. As a manager, you should have a list of all the projects and other commitments with who is assigned to each task and a deadline for each. This provides a bird’s eye view of everything promised so that you can keep track of who is doing what, and what is due this week/ month. This makes regular, routine follow-up more of a rhythm and less of a foot race.
Be flexible and solve problems
Of course, urgent requests come up and roadblocks are encountered. Make yourself accessible and helpful to re-prioritize and re-deploy resources so that key commitments can be met as much as possible.
Recognize effort and results
Especially if you are slowing moving towards full team accountability, recognize small efforts to change and celebrate even small results achieved. Remember it takes 10 positive comments to change a behavior and 4 positive comments to maintain a current one. And be careful to not publicly criticize those that miss deadlines and targets—keep the reports factual and without judgment. Just the mere reporting that something wasn’t done can be feedback enough. A good management rule to follow is the 4P’s- Pound in private, praise in public.
Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Our prior article “What Drives Engagement?” listed the top 10 engagement drivers.
Two areas impact employee perceptions of their relationship with the supervisor (category 3):
1. Good relationship with supervisor
According to author James Robbins in his book “9 Minutes on Monday,” trust is the key component in a good relationship with your direct reports. He suggests a weekly “walkabout” to spend a few minutes talking informally with one team member to discuss something personal (not about work!) to show that you care.
2. Input into decision-making in my department
You don’t have to abdicate a decision to employees to get their input and improve their perceptions of “having a say.” Read our related post about “Total Reward #5 Autonomy” that shows a graph of the continuum of decision-making involvement
Three steps you can take NOW to improve employee perceptions of their relationship and role with (you) their direct manager:
- Schedule a time each week to do your “walkabout” to chat about the personal life of one employee.
- Find one moderately important decision you need to make soon, hold a meeting where you outline the issue and ask everyone to give input, discuss the ideas without “shooting them down” (you can share your thoughts and why you are considering this approach), and be sure to thank everyone for their contributions.
- After you have made the final decision, communicate this with your reasoning, again with recognition and appreciation for everyone’s input.
Article for more reading:
How to be a Better Boss in 2013 by leadership expert Jack Zenger (great tips here based on study of thousands of managers rated by their employees!)