Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Rather than trying to manage your poor performers out, how about leading them in?

I have had many people contact me following my recent article Performance management is an oxymoron too!  There have also been several discussions in LinkedIn groups about the article.  I have felt despair at times because when a lot of people talk about performance management what they often mean is managing someone out of their workplace because of poor performance and so performance management’s bad name is heightened.

Rather than trying to manage your poor performers out, how about leading them in?

There are many tell tale signs of under performing workplaces.  Here are my top 10:

#1. Leaders avoiding and/or putting off difficult conversations about performance.
#2. Leaders confusing problems with people.
#3. Leaders confusing problems with personalities.
#4. Leaders have poor communication and presentation skills.
#5. Lack of a shared view between leaders and employees about where the organisation is going, why it’s going there, how it will get there, who will do what and when, and how we will behave regardless of the situation.
#6. Employees don’t know the organisations strategy for moving forward and particularly they don’t know and own their piece of the execution map.
#7. Leaders failing to truly appreciate people when they do well and employees failing to appreciate other employees when they do well.
#8. Poor accountability.
#9. Blaming and shaming rather than being accountable.
#10. A focus on business goals and how they will be achieved rather than a focus that maintains harmony between personal and business goals.

Seth Godin offers some great insights into overcoming these short comings in a recent blog Bad performance, good performance and the other two kinds
Seth talks about personal performance.

All change is personal first. Relationship change is second.  Organisational change is a distant third.

Start with the personal.  Humanize your relationships with your employees.  They are people first, employees second.  Get to know your people, their hopes and dreams, their fears and failings.  See your people as they can be, not as they are. 

Have conversations with your people about how they can turn their personal hopes and dreams into reality.  Document with them how they will do this.  Keep this to a page and just focus on the next 90 days yet with the long term firmly in mind.  On the other side of the page help your people to outline how they will bring their unique talents to their work on a consistent basis.  Use this document as the basis for daily appreciation and accountability conversations.

The writer Leon Gettler, who for me makes the Management Today magazine in Australia, said in a recent article “The toughest job for managers is having difficult conversations.”  If you don’t know how to have such conversations get to learning how and fast.

My promise to you is that the more you treat people as the one-of-a-kind human being that each of us is, the tough conversations get simpler and paradoxically there is less of a need for them because people become accountable for their own intentions, feelings, thoughts and actions.

Documenting performance possibility and having daily appreciation and accountability conversations (the tough ones) are key components of a performance leadership system.  Operative word leadership.  System is the management bit.  Rule of thumb leadership is about people, management is about systems.

I actually prefer the word talent to the word performance in this context.  Talent or the lack of using our talent/s well is what leads to performance, good and bad.

A powerful talent leadership and management system means we

*recruit people aligned with our values
*identify and cultivate people's gifts/talents
*induct and engage people to bring their best to their work consistently

Such a system also means:
*leaders are having informal and formal and candid conversations daily about performance that inspires and leads to personal accountability
*employees are having the same kind of conversations with each other and other stakeholders
*wisdom is retained when people move on
*how achievements are celebrated is known, agreed, and lived
*succession planning works in practice
*overall the special gifts/talents of individuals are being enhanced

How does your system stack up?

Having such a system is integral to leading people in and soon means a far less need to manage people out.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.
Ian

PS My Enhancing Their Gifts System™can help you move quickly from performance management to talent leadership and management.

In just 30 days time the very special offer for implementing and embedding the system via a web based learning program and with the help of an accredited mentor expires.  It is an offer I will never be making again.

I will hold the offer for anyone who participates in a demonstration clinic.  The next clinics are on this Thursday the 15th.  Details here. There will be more clinics before the December 12th offer cut off day.  You can also make arrangements for a private clinic simply by contacting an accredited mentor or myself.

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