Category Archives: Performance Management

Three management mistakes you don’t even know you’re making

trust

In our work with business owners, we have observed three beliefs that can hold them back from managing better, often without them being aware of their impact. 

Next time you are feeling frustrated with your staff, it might be time to check your thinking for any of the following…

1. Assuming your team should care as much about your business as you do

Have they taken the risk to build the business, invested their personal funds, time, energy and emotion?  Why would they care like you do?

Their money will be in the bank next pay day, regardless of whether they buy into your dreams.

2. Believing you can change people

We’re all only capable of change if we have the will to change. Why would you expect your staff to change their behaviour through the power of your will?

You can inspire and encourage change in others’ behaviour, but you can’t control it.

3. Thinking you are ‘in command’

You can enlist others’ cooperation and collaboration, but there are not many people in civilian life who like to be ordered around.

Business owners tell us consistently that they want staff who are self-starters and take initiative.  Isn’t it a bit unrealistic to then expect the people you’ve recruited – because they have these traits – to suddenly want to follow a directive without question?

Have you noticed how your beliefs affect your management style?  Please share your thoughts below.

Want better customer service?

Qantas is planning to give financial bonuses to cabin crew and other staff based on customer satisfaction (Sydney Morning Herald, 2 June 2012). Qantas CEO Alan Joyce told the Herald “Incentivising people for doing a good job is absolutely the way to go. The Apple guys do it and it’s very powerful.”

What’s wrong with Alan Joyce’s  approach?

1. If you have to pay bonuses to get good customer service, you’re employing the wrong people

The people you want working with your customers are people who give great service because, to them, it’s the right thing to do. They don’t have to fake it for a bonus because they genuinely care about people.

Select staff who are naturally helpful, friendly, tactful and enjoy meeting new people from all walks of life. They love serving your customers and it shows.

If you want to stop them feeling good about what they do, you could try:

a) implying they will give better service if they get a bonus and/or

b) surround them with other staff who believe it’s only worth providing excellent customer service if you’re going to get paid more if you do.

2. If you are sure you have hired the right people but you’re still not getting good customer service, look at your systems

There are a number of ways businesses prevent staff from giving excellent customer service:

a) Constant restructuring and job losses causing stress and impacting on individual motivation;

b) Treating customer service as an inferior function instead of critical to business success;

c) Lack of authority at the frontline to make on-the-spot customer service decisions;

d) Policies and procedures that are counter-customer satisfaction; and

e) Inadequate training and development.

3. Believing that if a strategy works for Apple it should work for Qantas (or any other organisation)

There are just so many obvious reasons why this thinking is flawed, there’s really no need for me to list them here.

So how do you provide your customers with an excellent experience, every time?

1. Create a culture that always put the customer first

2. Hire staff with natural talents for customer service

3. Support them with systems and processes that help them give their best

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Please comment below.

Giving feedback? Remember the other F-words

Feedback is one area some people struggle with when managing staff.  Remembering some other f-words could make it easier!

Here are some quick tips to giving feedback that will be well received and acted upon:

1. Always give feedback face-to-face.

2. Giving feedback on a frequent basis makes it normal and expected.

3. Be fair and consistent.  Take the time to recognise good performance, not just problems.

4. The feedback conversation requires you to focus on the person with you, without distractions.

5. Stick to the facts and don’t let emotions influence how you deliver feedback.  If you are feeling angry or upset, wait until you’re in a better frame of mind.

6. Have a plan to follow-up on your feedback to see if it’s been effective.  If you were expecting change and it hasn’t happened, try again.

You will have other tips you can add to this list.  Please add your comments below.

Hazard reduction, backburning or putting out spot fires?

As we experience our first bushfires of the season in the Blue Mountains, I think there’s a good analogy between the practices above and how managers behave.

Hazard reduction is the practice of burning, clearing and other practices done in advance of the fire season with the aim of reducing the impact of any future fires.  Back burning is when a fire is lit deliberately in the path of a bushfire with the aim of reducing the fuel load and slowing or stopping the progress of the fire.  Spot fires happen when a fire is underway and embers get carried into unburnt areas.

“I’m always putting out fires!” is a common complaint from managers.  I’m sure you’ve heard it before.

What if we use the bushfire analogy to avoid those management ‘fires’?

1.  Hazard reduction

  • skilled staff with the right attitude doing work they enjoy
  • adequate infrastructure, training and resources are available to do a job well
  • appropriate remuneration and benefits
  • clear and consistent policies and procedures
  • performance management systems in place
  • adequate insurance

2.  Backburning

  • disciplinary procedures
  • defined exit process
  • many team/morale building exercises, because there’s already a ‘fire’ when they’re implemented

3.  Putting out spot fires

  • immediate, on the spot decision making to avoid, contain or reduce damage
  • dealing with unplanned absences
  • summary dismissal
  • resolving client issues

Of course, just as with bushfires there are no guarantees but perhaps it’s time to ask:

What would you rather be doing?

Why job fit matters for business

Career guru Kate Southam, wrote on her Cube Farmer blog last week  “Whether it is a pair of shoes or a job role, wrong fit hurts”.

The wrong fit hurts employees and the companies they work for, their colleagues and their customers.  The discomfort they are feeling radiates in all directions and can have substantial negative impacts on your business.  Discomfort degenerates into real pain when you have to deal with a resignation or dismissal.

Why choose to go through the pain when there’s a much easier way?

Kate says:  …with shoes, you are more likely to know your size.  With jobs, people don’t often sit down and work out their ‘size’ before they go shopping for a new role.

We say:   Far too often, managers don’t sit down and work out what they’re really looking for before they go shopping for people to fill roles.

We see the results of this ‘mutual mystification’ around us daily with disinterested and unmotivated staff. 

The most common manifestation is in poor customer service.  Other symptoms are bullying, absenteeism and even outright sabotage.

If you’re serious about avoiding pain, this article is a good starting point.

If you need more convincing that the upfront work will be worth the effort, see this article about customer service (SMH, 28 July 2011).

And if you really don’t think you have a problem because your staff aren’t complaining, it might be time to revisit this blog post.

We would love to help you ease the discomfort.  Better still, we can show you how to avoid it.  Contact us for more information.

 

Critical skill shortage 5: Technical skills

Welcome to the final article in this series based on data about skills shortages in the banking and finance sector, collected in the Kelly Skills at Work 2010 study.  See our blog for previous articles on this topic.

All the skills we looked at previously in this series – communication, problem solving and decision making, strategic thinking and people management – are of limited value to a business if they are not accompanied by the requisite technical knowledge.

There is a growing demand for professionals who possess relevant and transferrable technical skills.

This current skills shortage will become critical due to the following factors:

  • Baby Boomers are retiring, taking critical skills and knowledge with them,
  • Products and services offered to clients are growing in numbers and complexity and
  • Customers are expecting more sophisiticated advice and more individualised services.

The smart organisations in the sector are building their talent base in all the skill areas we’ve examined in this series.

According to the Kelly study, they are attracting and retaining mid to senior level talent with the right skills in the following ways:

  • Attractive and competitive pay and benefits (83% of respondents)
  • Talent and career development training (71%)
  • Internal promotion (62%)
  • Work life balance initiatives (42%)
  • Hiring from other organisations (25%)
  • Attracting younger workers (17%)
  • Attracting older and more experienced workers (17%)
  • Increased reliance on foreign talent (9%)
  • Delayed retirement (8%)
  • Temporary and contract work arrangements (7%)

Most organisations will find that some of these approaches are less sustainable than others.

What’s your talent attraction and retention strategy?  How well is it going to serve you in the longer term?

As always, I’d love to know what you think.  Please add your comments below.

 

Critical skill shortage 3: Strategic thinking

This is the fourth of six articles based on data about skills shortages in the banking and finance sector, collected in the Kelly Skills at Work 2010 study.  See our blog for previous articles in this series.

In the Kelly study, strategic thinking was identified by study participants as a key skill that is in critical shortage among managers in the financial services industry.  It has been argued that this skill gap contributed to the GFC.

According to the survey results, an ‘aptitude’ for strategic thinking is important, as well as the capacity to:

  • identify and assess multiple external factors,
  • evaluate options and risks, and
  • solve complex financial challenges, both on behalf of clients and for the business.

Thinking strategically is a valuable skill in any position.  For those in charge of setting direction, strategic thinking is essential.

Strategy, strategic and related terms are among the most over-used and abused words in business.  Researchers have spent years dissecting and defining what is and isn’t strategic.  For a fascinating discussion of the differences between strategic thinking and strategic planning,  see this brief Wikipedia entry.

Interestingly, in a business dictionary dating from the 1970’s, none of the terms above were included!

What do we expect from strategic thinkers?

Despite the difficulties of defining the characteristics of strategic thinking, there is general concensus that the outcome is to bring the organisation’s vision to reality.

Whether we believe strategic thinkers are born or made, it is possible for us to identify people who have the potential to think strategically.

However, strategic judgement is a complex set of competencies as this definition and list of relevant traits from Harrison Assessments demonstrates:

Strategic Judgement = the tendency to have a balance of traits necessary to discern pertinent information and formulate an effective strategy.

This competency is made up of essential traits: Analytical, Analyses Pitfalls, Research/Learning, Intuitive, Collaborative, Self-Improvement, Systematic; desirable traits: Experimenting, Persistent, Certain, Pressure Tolerance, Optimistic, Planning, Self-Acceptance, Relaxed, Open/Reflective; and traits to avoid: Blindly Optimistic, Impulsive, Skeptical, Defensive, Dogmatic, Easily Influenced, Fast but Imprecise, Precise but Slow.

Although we think we know what we mean when we talk about strategic thinking or judgement, we should be careful about jumping to conclusions about someone’s ability until we have seen the evidence!

Critical skill shortage 1: Communication

Last week’s article on the ‘Top 5’ critical skills in short supply in Banking and Finance generated a lot of interest.

As a result of your feedback, we’re going to spend the next few weeks looking at each of the 5 areas of skill shortage in turn – beginning with communication – and give you some practical tips for survival.

For a quick summary of what you can do right now,  see our earlier post ‘The five step skills shortage strategy’.

Without excellent communication skills in all your staff, you will find they can’t:

  • build good relationships with clients
  • provide customer service that meets your clients’ expectations and needs
  • explain things well to clients
  • understand what clients need
  • sell your services and/or products
  • work together productively

From just that short list, imagine what poor communication could be costing your business!  But how can you know?

Signs you might have a problem:

  • customer complaints or (worse) losing clients who just leave without telling you why
  • low levels of business referrals (see previous articles on this topic)
  • lack of cooperation and teamwork, maybe some bullying
  • careless and/or expensive errors
  • losing good staff to competitors

What can you do about it?

1.  Be a positive role model

Communicate regularly and openly with your clients and staff.  Make sure this includes listening to what they have to say to you.

2.  Diagnose communication skills gaps

There are many tools and approaches on the market to help you do this.  We would be happy to help you find the right one for you.

3.  Fill the gaps

This may require drastic action that involves one or all of the following:

  • putting poor communicators where they can do the least amount of damage
  • improving the skills of your existing staff through training and coaching
  • hiring staff with the communication skills you want

If there are communication problems in your team, I guarantee without your intervention things can only get worse.  What do you plan to do about it?

Your easy performance management checklist

Viewers of last Wednesday’s webinar were suprised to learn that most performance management processes are a big waste of time.

How do you assess the value of your process?

Here’s an easy checklist:

1. Do you have all the information you need to set meaningful goals ?

2. Do all your employees get to have a high-quality conversation about their performance at least twice a year ?

3. Does your employee survey show that your performance management process is effective ? (If you don’t currently survey staff, consider using our Team Health Check.)

4. Does it take you more that twenty minutes to comlete the performance appraisal form ?

5. Do you have a maximum of 3-5 goals for each review ?

If you answered ‘yes’ to all five questions, congratulations!

If you didn’t, it might be time to view the webinar recording and/or get some help.

‘Performance + Rewards’ webinar recording

Conducting performance appraisals and rewarding performance effectively can be two of the biggest challenges you face when managing staff.

Are performance reviews something you – and your team – dread having to go through, even to the point of serious procrastination?

Ever wondered how to select rewards that will really excite and motivate your staff?  Have you ever succeeded in this sensitive area of management?

Does the whole idea of measuring and rewarding staff performance give you headaches?

What if you had a straightforward strategy that met the needs of both you and your team?

Watch this webinar to find out more!

Performance + Rewards Webinar from Susan Rochester on Vimeo.

The 3 C’s of performance and rewards

There’s not much time for writing today as I’m busily putting the finishing touches on tomorrow’s webinar.

If you are planning to reward good performance in your team, here are three things to remember:

1.  Always be clear about what you will reward, when and how.  Let your team know what you will be measuring and why.  Rewards are more effective if people know about them in advance.

2.  Stay consistent both in the rewards that you give and the reasons for them.  This means consistency across time and across individuals.  Note:  Being consistent does not mean you have to reward everyone equally.  See point 1.

3.  Be committed to delivering on the rewards you have specified.  If you have any doubt that you will not be able to pay bonuses, for example, then don’t offer them.  It’s very hard to recover from the damage done by a promise that isn’t kept.

That’s it for today.  There will be lots more great information about performance management and rewards in tomorrow’s webinar, so make sure you click here to register

PS. Even if you don’t think you can attend live, it’s worth registering for early access to the recording.

Why rewards (often) don’t work

Many managers try very hard to find new and more effective ways to motivate their staff through rewards. Are you one of them?

Could seeking to motivate people with monetary rewards ultimately be a waste of time, effort and money?

Take a look at this video animation (just 11 minutes long) of a talk given by Daniel Pink and please share your thoughts below.

 

For more on Performance + Rewards, please click here to register for our next webinar on Wednesday 10 November.

 

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