In an edition of Dear Workforce, the following Q&A was posed:
“Q: What do recruits want most today? Is money still the key factor or is professional development more important? It’s sometimes hard to tell what we should tout. A: Recruits tend to view professional development as the most important factor in switching positions. Making more money is certainly very important as well, but the opportunity to find a more challenging and expansive role is still the No. 1 reason that candidates take a new position.”
We all know that recruitment can be an extremely costly exercise, the cost of turnover is always a red flag for the accountants and the decision makers. And, if we know that when people go in search of new jobs, professional development is the most important factor; you have an opportunity to avoid the costly turnover price tag by addressing professional development with your current staff; that is, before they go in search of it elsewhere!
As the manager, you have the opportunity to delegate and assign tasks and projects that will meet the professional development goals of your staff. By delegating you are freeing yourself to do more work that’s aligned at your level and above; you are building the capability and capacity of your team; you are reducing turnover; you are saving money.
Delegation does take some time and effort to set up properly and successfully; it is not a ‘dump and run’. It needs clear expectations and instructions; known and agreed resources, timeframes, outcomes; it may need some initial support; it needs accountability. When done right, delegation can meet the professional development needs of your current staff so that you can avoid the costly recruitment process.
Here’s another way of thinking about it:
What would you prefer: an ever shrinking budget resulting in less access to needed resources because turnover is too high OR an engaged, resourced workforce and you a happy manager?
I’m known for getting on my soapbox when it comes to quality feedback. I believe all feedback, delivered well, is positive.
When mistakes are made, performance has dropped, sabotaging is in play, skills doesn’t match standards these are often thought of as needing the tough conversation. Think again.
Almost all of the time your team members want to know how well they are performing, are they doing okay? I bet you’d like to know how well you’re doing as well. In my books, that’s normal and not unreasonable.
When you think of feedback, either having to give it or if you receive it, it would be smart to expect some corrective, development or area for improvement feedback. Kate, a friend from a private Facebook group, made a comment about how to view negative feedback. I thought is was worth sharing here. In essence she said: If you get 100% positive feedback it might lead to over-confidence or some complacency. Feedback that may be termed negative can show you areas and ways to improve your performance, self-esteem, career.
That’s got to be a good thing.
- > Plan your feedback.
- > Deliver your feedback from a calm and level headed status.
- > Have an attitude going into the feedback session of wanting an open conversation and helping someone to develop.
[Of course, in some situations, you will need to be direct about behaviours that need to improve. Direct is not the same as yelling, aggression, dictator, executioner. Direct is calling the behaviour and working with the person to determine how change will happen.]
By far the most helpful formula for feedback is the EECC:
If you want to know more about how you can use the formula, check out the book Successful Feedback: the one simple formula for highly effective feedback:
So how do you handle that one person in the team who needs to wear this everyday (if for no other reason than a public service warning to the others):
(Photo source: Pinterest)
- - My brother’s girlfriend had to be taken to hospital last night
- - My washing machine broke and flooded the house
- - My dog had to be taken to the vet
- - My flatmate stole my wallet
- - My boyfriend dumped me
- - My mum and dad turned up at my place unannounced late last night
- - The report was written and I had it ready but now it’s gone, the cleaner must have thrown it out
All legitimate issues and of course you feel for the person. That is until that tipping point of more issues being handled than work being done and the handling of the issues becomes the daily gossip and stop work meeting agenda for the whole team. That point where everyone has been sucked into that issues vortex whether they initially wanted to be involved or not. Then you’re left with, not a team, but a collective of amateur counsellors and one drama queen/king.
Genuinely Polite and Apologetic
In my experience the person is generally friendly and polite and plays well with others, they are also forever apologetic that they’re late, leaving early, unprepared, missing work, etc. etc. and boringly etc. They know they’re letting the team down and they are genuinely apologetic, of course they are, because at face value they don’t want people to turn on them. Problem is, as the issues roll in and pile up that in itself creates further issues and the team – and you – will have a big issue with the person because of all the issues. [Getting dizzy yet?]
Something Must Be Done
So how do you handle your drama queen/king? Here are some ideas using the E.E.C.C. feedback formula:
EXAMPLE: Present the situation to the person as a list of dramas (be specific). Be sure to set conversation ground rules, that is, the conversation will not be about how to resolve the person’s issues but rather how to help the person improve or return to better work performance. [As the conversation progresses be listening actively to ensure the conversation doesn't slip into the dramas. If it does, interrupt the conversation immediately and re-state the ground rules, politely of course.]
EFFECT: Speak to the impact, read: effect, the constant issues (the person’s behaviour linked to the issues) is having on their standard of work output, on the team’s ability to work, on the organisation. Use specific examples of where things have gone wrong or been held up so the person can get clarity on why this is a problem.
CHANGE: If you stop the conversation now, you really are just telling them what they’ve done wrong and not progressing into what’s needed for improvement. The change component is critical for setting you and the person up for success. Ask – not tell – the person what changes they can make to improve things. Only if the person can’t see or suggest how to change, you can make suggestions. Give 3 suggestions and ask them to pick one.
COMMITMENT: Check their commitment to making the change and give your commitment to helping them through the change process.
I used this process with a drama queen I once worked with and while she went to tears in the first 30 seconds of the conversation [I hear you, drama], the tears dried up very quickly when I reassured her this is not about being in trouble, nor about her issues, it’s about helping her be the brilliant employee she has been previously. At the close of the conversation she even thanked me which I wasn’t expecting but it was appreciated.
Want more on how to handle these dramas, check out the EECC formula in my book Successful Feedback: The one simple formula you need for highly effective feedback:
I saw this article about exercises that uses three things that are in your office or in a meeting room near you!
“12 exercises deploying only body weight, a chair and a wall, it fulfills the latest mandates for high-intensity effort, which essentially combines a long run and a visit to the weight room into about seven minutes of steady discomfort — all of it based on science.”
This is a great resource for those who feel trapped in their office or are on the road spending more time in a hotel but don’t want to use the hotel gym (or the hotel doesn’t have a gym).
Here’s the full article.
So, why on earth am I posting this?
Because you know health and wellness impacts on your performance as a manager. You will have more energy, patience and clarity of thinking when you are operating at your best. You know this, it’s obvious on an intellectual level yet it’s easy to ‘excuse’ away the actual doing.
My younger days were crammed full of playing sport, and like many, as the years have passed so the level of physical activity has reduced. Today, any day, is the day to address this!
This fits with the concept of Managing Self. While you can spend time, money and effort building your skills and knowledge as a successful manager – an area that’s addressed in the Managing Self cards in the Management Success Cards - your health and wellbeing is a foundational component.
Share this with your team, after all, don’t you want the whole team functioning at their best?
Edit: Additional Information:
Here are some statistics that should clearly tell you why you need to move!
- 10% of Australian Workers are sedentary
- 40% do minimal exercise
- 12% exercise less that one hour per week
- 46% have high-fat diets
- 92% eat less than the recommended servings of 5-9 serves of fruit and vegetables
- 21% smoke daily
- 53% feel overwhelmed with pressure and stress “a significant amount of the time”?
(Source: Claire Massingham)
While standing on the train station platform waiting, waiting, waiting I realised I was staring at the ground and more precisely, staring at the message ‘mind the gap’. It’s bizarre where inspirational, Yoda-like brilliance emerges from (well, maybe not as impressive as Yoda). That stencil had me thinking about what it means to mind the gap in life, and not just as you hop on and off the train.
If you can see gaps, ask yourself whether the gaps are filled by others skills, knowledge, expertise or is this a gap you need to fill by up-skilling yourself. Common gaps I work with are communication skills, risk taking (seizing opportunities), delegation, giving feedback. These are gaps that need to be filled by the manager (and not others) in order to be a successful manager.
Some gap-filling questions for you to ponder:
Business Owner: I’ve implemented weekly sessions with the staff and they have goals they’re working towards. The process seems to be working really well but now I’m getting a bit bogged down in the goal setting each week.
Me (Coach): What specifically is it about the goal setting that is getting you bogged down?
Business Owner: Setting the goals for the staff each week.
Me (Coach): What would happen if you started encouraging the staff to set the goals each week?
Business Owner: [pause] … [Smirking] Of course! Jenny would easily be able to help with this. Why didn’t I think of that?
Me (Coach): You just did, I only asked a question!
Don’t you just love those light-bulb moments. Sometimes all it takes is one seemingly straightforward question from someone who’s not ‘in-the-thick-of-it’ with you.
Manager: He’s come across as though he understands the importance of getting the work done, i.e. providing the service to the client, but when we it comes to our weekly meeting, the work’s not done and all I get is, “Oh, I didn’t have time.” The thing is, I know he had the time; I know he knows that the client-specific work is the core of his job; I know he spent a lot of time surfing the net … he just seems like he doesn’t care. This has been going on since day. How can someone be so unmotivated, to not care?
Me (Coach): Let’s go through a quick checklist to clear the thinking and understand the priorities. 1. Are you sure he knows what he’s meant to do, how to do it, and when he’s meant to do it?
Manager: Yes, absolutely.
Me (Coach): 2. Have you been clear about your expectations, your expected standards of work?
Manager: I thought so, maybe I need to re-address this.
Me (Coach): 3. You said he knows the consequences of not doing the work, how sure are you that he does know?
Manager: He’s been in a client meeting where the client actually complained about his work, I thought that would have jolted him into action but all he said, after that meeting was, “Oh, well”.
Me (Coach): Thinking about your strategy and actions in dealing with this issue to date, on your note pad, jot down what hasn’t worked.
Now jot down what has worked.
Looking at these two lists, now think about what you could do differently? What from your lists will you stop doing (because it’s not working), what will you continue doing (because it does work)?
Manager: I am going to re-iterate my expectations? I’m going to stop being so patient waiting for the care-factor to kick in.
Me (Coach): Let’s break-down the reiterating of your expectations. How will you, specifically, ensure he does understand?
Manager: Tell him!
Me (Coach): Yes, and how will you know he understands? What will be the proof?
Me (Coach): That’s great. You’ll be able to gauge what he understands and what more you’ll need to discuss from his answers. Back to your actions, how will you specifically stop being so patient with him: what will that look like?
Manager: I guess I have to double check understanding and make sure we’re on the same page about work expectations and standards, and then let him know I will be monitoring the work a bit more closely while he picks up the game. If he works better then that’s great and I won’t step on toes but if he slacks back off he’ll get a verbal warning. I can’t afford to carry this guy any longer.
What do you need to do to ensure your team know the expected standards of work?
I responded to a question asked in a discussion forum and as I read the question, I thought to myself, ‘if I had a dollar for every time this type of question gets asked, I’d be very rich.’ Although not strictly a coaching moment, it certainly is akin to many coaching (and training) moments I’ve had with managers.
The content is as it appeared in the discussion, only the names removed:
How do you motivate team members in your team or motivate multiple teams in an IT department using non-monetary mechanisms? Salary hikes, promotions, more benefits, gift cards are not an option.
I wanted to explore options where managers/HR work towards creating an environment/culture where resources are motivated and continuously engaged without resorting to monetary means.
Ask your team what are their motivators and de-motivators. You can ask them individually or as a team.
You can pre-frame the conversation as an team exercise: ‘Given a zero budget, what would you do to boost motivation in the team?’ [When I run this as an exercise in training and facilitation, the group's ideas that flow are brilliant.]
If you ask the team to list all their de-motivators, you have a starting point for building the morale: working together to reduce the de-motivators. This is a starting point, the motivators also need to be addressed.
I would never suggest you ignore any help or advice you could get from HR or other managers but you could be overlooking the BEST resource for your answers … the team!
Thanks for your response. I agree that the team would be the best place to start asking this question. I like the idea of the team exercise. This will be good as it won’t put the team member on the spot and it would become a general question.
Really liked your answer !
Two questions come to mind from this management coaching moment:
1. In what circumstances have you made finding the answer more complex, at least initially, than it needed to be?
or, let’s put it more simply…
How could you make your problem solving (or team building) more simple?
2. What other aspects of work (team building, delegation, creativity & innovation) could you be asking the team?
Based on a real management coaching moment:
Manager: I attend a specific agency meeting which I know one of my team could go instead of me but I don’t want the other meeting attendees thinking that I think I’m too busy or too important to attend that meeting. What should I do?
Me (Coach): I have two questions for you:
1. Do you know for sure what the other meeting attendees think?
2. Which is most important to you: a) freeing up some time for you to get on with your work or b) worrying about what you imagine others are thinking about you?
… long pause …
Manager: Oh dear, I’m an idiot!
Me (Coach): No, you’re not an idiot, you’re just trying to please all the people all the time based on assumptions of what you think they want and what you think they are thinking.
Be assured that just as you are sitting here thinking about you, each of the meeting attendees will be equally thinking about themselves (and not you).
How do we work out what someone else is thinking?
Manager: We can’t, unless we ask.
Me (Coach): So we’ve now removed the assumption of what others may or may not be thinking. Let’s tackle the ‘importance’ factor of your attendance at the meeting. How critical is it to you and to the others that you attend?
Manager: I think it’s really important that our unit is represented. I know who I want to go in my place, I just have to set it up properly.
Me (Coach): What will it take to make the transition from you to the other person smooth?
Manager: Maybe they can come with me to the next meeting, I can see how interested they are, let them know what sort of information we share and what information we need to bring back to the unit.
Me (Coach): What’s your Plan B, if that person doesn’t want to take on the extra responsibility?
Manager: Oh, no, I’m sure they’ll want to do it … it’ll be a big ego boost for them. [pause] I do know someone else just in case. Thanks.
When has worrying about what others think got in the way of you doing better or doing what was most important for you or your job?
Another real management coaching moment:
Manager: The team mood is really off at the moment. I don’t understand why they’re so angry: the last time we had to make big changes around here, the board made the decisions and directed us managers to make it happen, the staff ended up going on strike because they weren’t consulted. So this time, we spent weeks and weeks consulting the staff and still they’re not happy … [pause] … it’s like damned if we do and damned if we don’t.
Me (Coach): I’m going to share a story with you as I believe there may be some similarity and lessons in it for you and the team and organisation. I was a team member of a very large organisation which had just gone through extensive staff consultation and then about to implement change, and the organisation was in the early stages of rolling out the change and was pulling large groups together to communicate the ‘next steps’. One staff member who was really angry decided to let his feeling be known. He stood in front of all of us, his colleagues, faced all the senior managers and let it rip: “You spent, I don’t know how much, traveling throughout the state asking all of us at the coalface what we thought, what would work, what wouldn’t, and now the decisions that have been made make no sense, they are the exact opposite of what we said, it’s like you didn’t listen, you screwed us over big time!”
The executive director, known for not being too warm and friendly, then stood, thanked the guy for being honest about how he felt and fairly sternly replied with, “Let me share with you what I believe being consultative means. We gather as much internal and external data as we can, we analyse that data and then make the best, most informed decision we can with what we know. Being consultative does not equal doing what you say, there’s a difference. I appreciate that many will not see their opinions in the decisions we’ve made, what you will see however is the end result of much greater amounts of information than what each individual gave.”
What do you think?
Manager: I liked the exec’s definition. Maybe I should share that story with the team, that’ll put ‘em in their place.
Me (Coach): Sure, do you think that will build bridges successfully?
Manager: Okay, maybe not tell it like he did.
Actually we haven’t really explained the consultative process at all, we just sent out surveys and had meetings but didn’t really explain the structure around it all, I’m not sure the team know what the board want as an end result.
I would still like to somehow incorporate the message about the definition of consultation to the team. The timing is probably pretty good as we still have some things to implement.
Me (Coach): Sounds like you’ve good a bit of plan in mind. Thinking that through a little more, what would get in the way of it working?
Manager: I guess there’ll always be the ‘nay-sayers’, I’ll need manage them so they don’t impact negatively on the others. Also, I think my Director will appreciate this so I will share this with her so we can roll out the last changes with better communication.
Me (Coach): Wow, sounds like you know where you want to go with this. What is your first step?
Manager: I’ll write down some ideas and schedule time to meet with my Director. Thanks, I feel really confident about what I need and want to do.
What’s one thing that could’ve been done better when it comes to any organisational change you’ve experienced?