Be Specific! How to see REAL Performance Improvement

Misunderstanding Quotes

Up your game, Tone it down, Chill out, Be more supportive, Adjust your attitude, Come to work on time, Stop abusing time and leave, Be more creative, Be a team player…

These are all common, legitimate feedback given to staff who need to improve their performance in  managerial and interactive skills. The feedback is also equally vague and generic and by themselves do nothing to give managers the results they actually need.

The more specific you can be, the clearer a picture you can paint that your employee will understand, the greater the chances of the “aha!” moment that creates the turnaround you’ve been looking for.

Even if it means consulting a thesaurus, there must be specific verbs that can attach to the desired results.

Here are some example of do’s and don’ts for common behavioral challenges.

Specific – “You have consistently arrived at meetings 15 minutes or more after they begin. I expect you to already be in the room, seated, at the time the meeting is scheduled to begin”.

That is more effective than, “You’re always late for meetings. You need to come on time”. The latter statement invites, “I was on time. But only a few minutes late. It barely started!”

Specific – “I notice that you walked the crowded halls the last two times I was on your floor but you failed to acknowledge or greet all but a couple of employees. I also observed that you then remained in your closed office for the duration of the afternoon. My expectation is that you would make it routine to greet the majority of your staff during your morning walkabout. You are also to leave the office and circulate at least 4 different periods each day.

Rather than, “You’re not supportive of your team members”.

Specific – I believe that our team morale is low based on a number of factors: First, I have heard from 5 out of the 8 team members within the past month that “if nothing changes I’m going to be shopping my resume around”. HR reports a 20% increase in complaints to about “management” coming from your shop. Since last March, in any given week there are two managers out on “sick” or “personal leave”, especially during peak season and I have a half-dozen transfer requests in my inbox. Your team is in crisis.

Better than, your team morale is low.

Specific – The next team meeting, I am asking you to interject at least 4 times. It could be a question, a comment, or giving feedback. You’re way too reticent to speak.

Rather than, you should speak up more at meetings.

Specific – At our next team meeting, I don’t want you to speak until the entire team of 8 has spoken at least one time (unless you are asked a direct question). While you’re not speaking I would like you to keep a pad beside you and make notes on your observations and opinions; things you would normally just say out of turn. Then we’ll debrief and see how it felt and how your listening presence may have impacted the team.

Much more helpful than to say, “You dominate meetings”.

You get the idea.

Write the offending behaviors down. Really think them through – the behaviors and their implications. Then force yourself to think of alternative behaviors you need to see and their implications. Then think of what the consequence will be if the unwanted behaviors continue. Now when you have “that talk”, you will have given your employee a tangible picture of their current behavior and measurable outcomes you expect to see.

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