Back again with 3 talking points from my monthly leadership meetings. To start at the beginning and get the full context click here.
Manage to trends, not incidents. I mean this in reference to negative performance, not positive. Instances of positive performance should be celebrated shamelessly. Unfortunately, for many managers the easy route is to catch people making mistakes, and then instantly trying to correct it. Or maybe an offense occurs, and then the manager overreacts by reprimanding the employee or wrapping a new rule around it. There are several issues with this approach:
- You are generally responding emotionally, which means you’ll probably mishandle the situation.
- You are making management decisions based on anecdotal evidence, which will cause people to lose trust in you if they perceive it as unfair.
- You may be reprimanding someone that is actually a great performer that is having a bad day, thereby ruining morale.
One of the most obvious examples of this comes to mind in a call center. In mine for example, I would sometimes notice that certain employees were regularly away from their desk when I walked through. I could have pointed this out, but we allot regular breaks to our employees so who’s to say they weren’t just on breaks. At the time I didn’t have technology to track agent utilization, so I waited until we set up Genesys. Once we had real data over several months, we were able to verify that actually even our lowest performers were quite productive by normal call center standards.
In a similar vein, we have a tardiness policy that only becomes worrisome if there is a real trend in your attendance of coming in late on a regular basis. This ensures we aren’t harassing people that occasionally come in late as life sometimes necessitates. Consequences should be enforced upon trends, not individual instances (unless of course it is a serious offense).
Accept Feedback graciously. It’s so incredibly valuable to get thoughtful, productive feedback from your team. Without good feedback you’re basically making decisions blindly, frequently without the assistance of those that are closest to the issue at hand. So if you’re lucky enough to get feedback from your team, make sure you don’t squander it or react negatively to it. I myself need to work on a nervous laugh that is my general reaction to feedback that I don’t have an immediate response to. We need to be very appreciative of all feedback that we receive no matter how hard it is to hear. It’s also very important to quickly put that feedback into action when it’s useful to show how serious you take it. Also remember to always credit the person that provided it. I can’t count the amount of times where something that seemed to be the simplest thing in the world to a team member completely blew me away in it’s genius. To not tap into this source of knowledge is a major waste, and to not constantly encourage and put it to good use it will cause it to die out.