A Skill Transition
You don’t “do the work” anymore – you need to “get things done through others.” You make the transition from using your functional skills – to supporting other people to use theirs. Your job now is to prioritise the right Key Performance Indicators and Projects – and then get them done through your people.
You start by setting clear Goals and providing clear directions about what good performance looks like. Then put the right systems and performance measures in place, and hold people accountable to achieve those standards.
Now, step back and let your team figure out how to do it. They’ll develop faster and you’ll get more done. Yes, you are accountable for the results of your team’s work, and you need to provide training, mentoring, and support – but don’t try to control everything that happens. You may think your way is the right way – but it’s not the only right way.
You still have to hold people firmly accountable for performance!
Ideally, every role should have one objective measure of performance, a “score” which is used to measure that person’s performance on a weekly and/or monthly basis. Everyone must know at the end of every month whether they are doing a good job or not.
If someone is not achieving the target level of performance, it is important that you deal with it promptly at the end of each month. Rarely does a performance issue fix itself. Ask questions to understand what is really going on, and agree the specific actions both parties will take to address the performance issue in the coming month.
Don’t procrastinate on this. You may not enjoy these performance discussions because they can involve confrontation, but doing nothing and hoping that things will magically get better is not good leadership.
Don’t spend too much time trying to “fix” problem performers.
The 80/20 principle shows us time and time again, that we must focus our time and resources on the employees, products, services, and customers which are the highest performers, and on those with the highest future potential.
Unfortunately when it comes to staff, it is an all too common trap for managers to spend most of their time trying to “fix” poor performers, and as a result they can end up neglecting their A-Players.
Assuming you are providing the appropriate training, coaching and support – if a sub-par employee can’t be brought up to speed within a mutually agreed time frame (I suggest 3 months), then you must accept that you have made a hiring error and cut them loose.
Stay in touch with the customer.
Make sure you truly know what is going on at the front lines of your business. Get out there and see for yourself. Speak to customers. Spend time listening to customer service calls to hear what upset customers really think about your products and services. Make it safe for your people to tell you the raw unvarnished truth. Don’t argue with them or shut them down. You may not always like what you hear, but at least now you have the opportunity to put it right. Get the raw data you need to make good decisions.
Make a decision.
The military teaches their officers that any decision is better than no decision. If you happen to make a wrong decision, admit you were wrong, and make a better one – but don’t just stand there being indecisive!
Occasionally you may decide to “take no action” in response to a situation, but make sure that “no action” is a conscious decision that you clearly communicate to your people so they know why – rather than procrastinate and hope things will sort themselves out.
Keep the home fires burning.
Just as we need to keep the romance alive in our personal relationships and not take our loved ones for granted – we need to apply the same thinking with our people. Praise and recognise people who achieve their target level of performance every month and who simultaneously model your Core Values. Engage your people with your heartfelt passion. If you are not truly passionate about the journey you are on, then you should not be leading these people.
Stop being the hero.
If you have to keep parachuting in to save the day, you get to feel like a hero, but it is a symptom that you have not yet learned how to be an effective leader, and a clear sign that you need to go back and address one or more of the above steps.
If you would like to know or learn more about this article, or other articles, or about how to improve your business, then please:
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