It is a documented conclusion through studies conducted on employee engagement, retention and high potential performers that the majority of employees don’t quit the job. They quit the manager.
When the Gallup organization researched over one million people, in order to discover how to attract and keep talented employees, the findings reinforced that the key to engagement is twofold: 1) consistent interaction between manager and employee and 2) for managers to communicate clear performance expectations.
Learn to describe behavior or results in a productive way, use I-statements and give positive feedback, and you will likely surpass most of your colleagues who are facing their own challenges as managers and leaders.
When you start to think of performance management as an ongoing process versus a one-time event or a cyclical set of routines, then your employees will very quickly get in line with your organization and leadership style.
Of course, as leaders, we all face the ongoing challenges, such as individual behavior styles; multiple generational issues; modern standards, expectations and delivery results; remote employee culture with flexible schedules; and global cultural concerns.
Even with all of these xoxoxos in the contemporary workplace, you can launch these three changes to improve employee performance and effectiveness:
1. Describe Behavior
Learning to positively describe behavior will help you communicate clearly and objectively. You will be able to distinguish between vague communication versus clear behavior or results-oriented language. Here is how:
- Describe behavior that you have observed or heard will let others know with clarity your performance expectations for the future.
- Describe desired results with clarity. What does the desired result look like? Get very clear with your employees about what the successful outcome with look like.
2. Use I-Statements
The use of I-statements will enable you to express your viewpoint in a way that promotes personal accountability for speaking, listening, and collaboration.
- Begin with the word ‘I,’ then express your viewpoint, preference, or feeling. For example, “I’m concerned about what will happen if we don’t meet the deadline,” or “I’d like you to check the order before it goes out. I have received a few complaints about errors.”
3. Give Positive Feedback
Giving positive feedback helps create the best possible performance by recognizing and reinforcing effective behaviors and results. Here is how:
- Become aware of the strategic value of giving positive feedback to all employees under different circumstances.
- Develop positive feedback message that shape or reinforces behavior.
- Plan for the use of positive feedback on-the-job.
- Give your full attention to the person when you are speaking, consider the tone of voice you are using, and be very conscious of the pace you use with all types of communication.
Strong leaders have an invaluable asset, which is their ability to include these components in their feedback:
- Focus on the behavior, not the person.
- Clear, specific feedback is about what the person did or the results they achieved, not about the person.
- Be descriptive versus evaluative.
- Effective feedback is given as quickly as possible after the performance is demonstrated.
- Be timely and sincere.
- Give feedback quickly! Don’t put off your feedback. Show sincerity with your word choice, facial expression and your personal approach.
- Be specific versus general. Describe a specific event or incident. Generalities lack the necessary impact.
- Take ownership of your statements. Use I-statements to ensure that you sound personal.
- Make your feedback instantly useable. Recognize the power of practical takeaways! Receivers are able to control and utilize your usable, practical feedback.
“Build credibility with your team by owning your management communication and holding yourself accountable for dialog and solution results.”
~Suzanne Updegraff, CEO, Employee Development Systems, Inc.