How Am I Doing?

February 23, 2011

Ever wonder if you’re doing a good job?  You’re not alone. 

 As a manager, one of the most important things you can provide to your employees is clear expectations.  Research shows that when employees have clear job expectations, they are more confident, don’t need as much direction and supervision and perform at a higher level.   Clear expectations also help employees see the importance and value of their work.    

 Here are a few ways that you can provide clarity around expectations for your employees. 

  1. Job description – Most managers think a job description is only used to post jobs in order to fill open positions.   Another important purpose for a job description is to provide an employee with a clear description of the duties and tasks associated with their job.  A good job description also includes the primary purpose of the position – why the job exists – and the measures of success – how we know when it’s done well.   
  2. Clear goals and objectives – Once an employee understands and meets the expectations of their day-to-day job, it’s time to set some measurable goals and objectives.  Every goal needs to help the employee link their work and objectives to the bigger picture.  The big picture could be the company goals, the impact on customers and /or the world at large.  All objectives need to be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant to goal and time bound). 
  3. Follow-up –Touching base with your employees regularly to assess progress, troubleshoot and remove obstacles to achieving the expected results is a key step in ensuring clear expectations.  This can be done through informal MBWA (management by wandering around), regularly scheduled one-on-ones or employee initiated discussions. 
  4. Regular feedback – Nearly all employees want and need to know how you think they are doing.  An important step in ensuring clear expectations is to provide regular feedback.  And, most of it needs to be positive – catching your employees doing something right.  This can be recognition of results that they have achieved, improvements they are making, desired behaviors that they are demonstrating.  If performance is off track, discuss with employee to assess why and correct.  Make sure that all feedback, positive and corrective, is timely, specific and consistent. 

Following these simple steps to ensure clear, consistent expectations will have a significant impact on employee confidence, value and effectiveness.  The next step in employee development is capturing and recording employee accomplishments, and understanding and planning their development goals.

Question: How well do you know the expectations or YOUR job?

Categories: Communication, Culture, Employee engagement, Employee satisfaction, Peformance management, Strategic planning.

Four Keys to Building a High Performance Team (aka – giving you more time and profits)

February 9, 2011

As a social systems consultant and coach, I’m often asked about best practices, especially which ones make the greatest positive impact on individuals, teams, and organizations.   The question is fairly typical but what’s most often at the root of this question is “Where is the biggest return on investment”?  

I know this is an important question, but what seems strange to me is that often the same people who ask these questions invest more money, time and energy in buildings, tools and equipment than in the people that work for them.  Why?  My personal experience and the professional literature tell us again and again that it’s because it’s easier to measure ROI on these assets, because we act out of habit or because it’s safer doing what we know.   

Whole Foods is a good example of a company who has taken the steps to invest in its people and teams.  And, because of that, not only did they rank number 5 in Fortune’s “100 Best Places to Work” (up from number 15 in 2006),  their first quarter results showed a 12% increase in sales, almost double the 6.2% of comparable stores.  They attribute this, in part, to their investment in people and teams. 

Whether you’re the CEO or a front-line manager, you need to motivate others to work together and to take responsibility for making things better.  Our Team Development Model has been successful in accelerating new team efficiency and moving existing teams to higher performance.  This higher performance has led to significant contributions to customer satisfaction, productivity and ultimately profitability. 

We have seen that the reason most teams fail is because there is confusion around expected results (goals – the what and why), participation (roles – the who) and methods (processes – the how). 

The key to building and maintaining high performing teams is ensuring that everyone who impacts the team, including team members, understands and agrees on the following: 

Goals – the primary purpose/mission and expected results of this team.   These include current goals, deliverables, timelines and expected results for the team that link to the company goals/objectives. 

Roles – the team structure and interdependencies (leader, sponsor, core and sub-team members and other key stakeholders), core member role, general norms and expectations of each other. 

Processes – the key processes which include (but are not limited to) the team meeting purpose, logistics and norms; decision making (does the team own or do they need approval from others); communication norms within team and with departments, staff and key stakeholders; assessment; issue resolution and escalation process. 

Relationships – building trust by knowing and understanding each other – individual communication and decision making style preferences, individual strengths, challenges and needs.   

Team Development Model

The Team Development Model addresses both the development of a new team and the assessment of an existing team.  If used correctly, it ensures understanding and agreement of the what and why, the who and the how for team members and other stakeholders. 

Unfortunately, when misunderstanding or disagreement of the what, who or how occurs, conflict typically shows up in relationships.  

As mentioned above, you can also use this model as an assessment tool.  When conflict arises, ask yourself (and your team) “Could this be a misunderstanding or disagreement about how we did something (process), who owned what (roles) or how we are being measured (goals)?”  Knowing and addressing conflict from this perspective refocuses attention, minimizes the emotional aspect of conflict, resolves issues more quickly and uncovers and prevents areas that could potentially cause issues down the road. 

Action plan
1. Bring the team together to assess their effectiveness and identify potential areas where there may be a lack of understanding or agreement on Goals (what), Roles (who) or Process (how)?
2. Discuss areas of opportunity and address.
3. Implement a regular, ongoing team discussion and improvement process.

Question:  Where do you see misunderstanding or disagreement showing up in your current team (goals, roles or process)?

Categories: Uncategorized.

Moving from “The Company” to “Our Company”

February 2, 2011

The heart and soul of engagement is ownership.  As long as your employees feel they are working to help you make your company succeed, engagement will be low.  Once you get them to see themselves as partners in the endeavor—making decisions, staying informed, linking the impact of their day-day job to the company’s success —everything changes.  Engagement rises, productivity soars, customer satisfaction increases and profit grows! 

Engagement does not come from dollars but from more personal factors.  Here are seven things that will help your employees stay engaged for the long term. 

  1. An employer who cares enough to listen. The best way to know what your employees need and expect is to ask them.  And to listen carefully to their answers. 
  2. Clear, consistent expectations.  Clear expectations are key to ownership and self-motivation.  Vague policies and unclear expectations can make employees feel irritated, unsafe, even paranoid – and disengaged.  They click into survival mode instead of focusing on how to help the company succeed. 
  3. A sense of the importance of their work.  Giving an employee line of sight to how their day-day job impacts the bigger picture – customer and company goals – gives them a sense of belonging and an opportunity to see how they make a difference.  This has a greater impact on loyalty and customer service than all other factors combined.
  4. Opportunities for advancement. The chance to learn something new, whether it’s development to be better in their current job or work their way up the ladder, is a tremendous incentive for productivity, bonding, and engagement. 
  5. Good relationships with others in the workplace—especially their boss. If that relationship is weak or toxic, you can forget about asking the employee to put their shoulder to the wheel for the company.
  6. Regular feedback.  If you want to keep employees moving forward, give them regular feedback. And don’t forget positive feedback, which should ideally outnumber the negative by about 5 to 1.   After all, you get what you measure and acknowledge. 
  7. Celebration and rewards for success. Set realistic targets, then reward and celebrate when they are reached.  And don’t wait for the end of a big project to celebrate.  Pick milestones along the way and recognize them (aka have fun, party) when you hit them.  

Help your employees feel a part of the company – our company!   Help them know that ‘we are in this together’ and you will see amazing, positive results! 

Action plan

  1. Assess your current use of the seven factors above.  Do you believe ‘we’re in this together’?  Do your employees? 
  2. Identify and implement a plan to improve at least one within the next week. 


Do you work for ‘the’ company or ‘our’ company?  What would make you change your answer?

Categories: Accountability, Alignment, Attitude, Employee engagement, Employee satisfaction, Leadership, Leadership development, Peformance management, Teamwork.

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