Wednesday 29 April 2009

Managing Performance- As easy as A,B,C...

Most of the Professional Coaching, Leadership Development or Mentoring I do hits a stumble or at least a wobble when we look at Performance. What I mostly see is really capable people who do not have the skills or tools to conduct proper 'Performance Conversations'. You need to THINK differently about this activity to see why this is both necessary and should be a positive experience. Here are a few simple principles to guide you in the meantime.

1. Understanding Behaviour is as easy as your A,B,C.

2. Performance conversations should never come as a surprise. Both parties should know where they stand because 'what success looks like (i.e. a job well done)' has been discussed and agreed. Too many times there are assumptionas and unsaid things left on the table. Hope this is useful.

A,B, C of behaviour..........the essentials.
A is for Antecedent (also called a setting event- sets the tone for what's expected- What you want to happen) Examples are Sales Targets, Deadlines, Project Timelines, etc.
B is for Behaviour (What actually happens) The evidence, results, activities, outcomes of what was agreed by both parties.
C is for Consequence, (What happens after the event)
The secret to understanding performance lies in 1 simple Question.........
Q..."Why do people do what they do....?"
A..."Because of what happens to them when they do it...!" Consequences get focus on what will happen (positive and negative) AFTER the event. So the thinking time should go into figuring what will get the consequences you require. Time well spent!

Most managers don't understand this. It causes a lot of frustrations and discord in the workplace when effort is misunderstood. This also applies to NO consequences for poor performance. (Next time surprise, surprise, you get more poor performance. As a Manager/Leader you have to do both side of this. Clarify what you want, put in place the structures to make it happen and FOLLOW-UP!! That's REALLY why you get paid more. I know, you were never told. You are now!! These comments look familiar??
"I spent hours on that report and nobody even read it...." (What will happen next time the report is due...? If it has to be done it will be done as a tick box exercise)
Conversely when you get praised for good work - we tend to work harder next time (go the extra mile, try harder and feel proud and connected to what we do.)

There's also a great opportunity to use your noodle here.........
When you see someone put a lot of effort in and it's not appreciated, a simple call or email to say, "that was a fine piece of work, we appreciate the effort. When I get to read it fully, can I ask your opinion on anything I'm unsure of...?" It shows you noticed. The Golden Rule applies to all of us.
Next time you get great performance and poor performance ask yourself the same question...
"Was what was expected both clear and fair..."? If it was and you got what you expected tell people they did a good job, say Thank You....simple, goes a long way. If you didn't get what you wanted, ask where they struggled and ask yourself "What was my role in this not going well"? Humility goes a long way. You'll learn about your own soft spots as a Leader as much as help others with performance. Easy as A.B, C! Enjoy practicing and good luck getting what you want. Most people I believe actually want to do a good job and try hard. When they don't, it's invariably a Leadership failure...........As I said before 'the fish always rots from the head'. No-one said it was easy. Figuring it out is what makes you GREAT!

Friday 10 April 2009

What is Continuous Improvement.......??

Sounds daunting and difficult! The world of long thin people with big brains. It has some science but it's actually more a mind-set and a habit. I'm very right brained (creative, idea generator, see options etc) yet I owe a lot of my business education to Six Sigma training. Here are 3 things you can do to improve Quality in your business TODAY.

Tom Peters co-wrote a book called 'In Search of Excellence'. It got panned, because he chose many companies who were excellent but subsequently failed. Not his fault really, but his simple principles are transferable to any Business. Quality happens when many small things are done consistently well and when you repeatedly look for ways to do the basics better.

  1. 1,000% principle- Take 1,ooo small things and improve them by 1% each at a time. The accumulated effect is staggering over time. Look for easy opportunities to improve TODAY.
  2. Listen to the Customer Naively- Let them speak first and listen with a real intent to understand. They will in many cases be staggered you stop talking for a change!
  3. Have a Bias for Action- The late Paul Arden (Advertising Guru) once said "Energy, it's 75% of the job. If you haven't go it nice ". This is a frame of mind. It shows you respect your Customers by responding quickly. It also deals with procrastination!

Quality is a state of mind. When you care about fulfilling promises to Customers and genuinely believe their success is what secures yours then, quality is guaranteed as an outcome.

Too many people think this pie in the sky. Just ask yourself, is this how YOU would like to be treated as a Customer........? Why would this not work then for everyone...........??

As I often say if this is where the bar is set, it wouldn't take a lot to be good then would it??!