Discovering a performance issue in a global team July 6, 2009Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Coaching, Diagnosing performance problems, Fixing performance problems, Global communication, Global leadership, Leading globally, Performance issues.
Tags: Diagnosing performance problems, global, global interaction, Global leadership, global team, global team member performance issue, leading global teams, Signs of remote performance issue
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The Big Dogz know that the biggest problem with managing performance of a remote worker is to identity that there is a performance problem. Time, culture and technology can mask the signs that a remote employee is having a performance problem. The effective global leader is aware of potential performance problem signals. What do you look for?
Here are some specific signals your global team member may send you:
- Does not respond to email or voice mail
- Does not make regular contact with you
- Deliverables are late, does not notify you
- Other members of your global team complain to you about the work products or delivery schedule
- Does not participate in team conference calls
- Misses status reports
- Tries to redirect the performance conversation
- Turns off the IM software
- Is absent unexpectedly
- Becomes defensive about questions
- Updates are unclear or poorly worded
- Claims computer systems problems keep from getting the work done
- Describes problems in email rather than a phone call
- Spending more time surfing the internet
- Tell you everything is going “great”
- Productivity is dropping
- They are excelling at mundane tasks — ignoring major project tasks
- They do not have awareness of project or company news
Observing these signs does not guarantee there is a performance problem. A general principle to follow is “Is there something unusual happening?” When you see behavior that is not normal, this is a good indicator that something is awry. If it is not a performance problem, then it is probably something you need to become involved with anyway.
The Big Dogz use these signs as guidelines — something to start investigating. As with all performance problems, you will first want to check the person’s ability to do the task assigned. Of course, the Big Dogz do that when they give a SMART objective; but if that assessment was incorrect, now is a good time to adjust. Use the performance feedback process to get the person’s action plan to bring performance back in line with your expectation. Include in your analysis, the workload, the priority in the team for this task and other factors that may affect the person’s ability to perform. Help the person to take action to fix these issues.
If the cause of the performance issue is not ability, then explore the willingness or motivational component of performance. They may have a confidence issue relative to the task. Perhaps you will have to increase your relationship activity with this person, such as encouraging them.
Responding to remote performance issues requires the use of the same techniques and approaches you would use with a co-located performance issue. Of course it will take more time, require the use of technology and adaptation to some cultural issues. The Big Dogz know that paying attention to the potential performance issue signs will pay off in the long run.
Feed the Big Dogz March 21, 2009Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Coaching, Feedback, Fixing performance problems, Getting what you want, Management, Performance issues.
Tags: Coaching, coaching for top performance, differentiuate coaching, feed the Big Dogz, getting the most from people, handling substandard performance, high performance, using coaching to increase productivity
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Do you want to get even more from your top performers? The Big Dogz know that it is very effective to spend your coaching time with the Big Dogz rather than the low performers! However, some managers tend to spend their precious coaching time with the low performers trying to get them to perform at the acceptable level. Although this strategy may sound effective, it does not represent the optimum use of your time and energy. Just where am I supposed to focus? Let’s look at the range of performers you may have to manage, and then map an effective approach to investing your coaching effort with each of those performers.
Star performer — this is your go-to person. The star is highly motivated, willing to learn and is ambitious. The star performer is always looking for ways to improve productivity in your team. Normally they are self-starters and need little of your time. Just the kind of person you want on your team.
Spend most of your coaching time with this performer. It is effective to schedule very frequent coaching session to develop the contributions of this performer. It would not be an ineffective use of your time to meet with this person 2-3 times per week to provide coaching. Give them effective feedback and provide opportunities for them to develop and contribute. These performers will take up more than 50 % of your coaching time and effort. Coaching this performer will most likely stretch your coaching skills to the highest level and you will grow in your capability to coach. So, there is some personal benefit for you by spending time and energy with this performer.
Rising star performer — this performer is also highly motivated, willing to learn and ambitious. What makes this performer different from the star performer is the level of skill and experience. They really want to do whatever it takes; they just need some guidance. The rising star has some ideas about how things could be better, but is reluctant to come forward. And, by the way, this person will seldom ask you for help. Having performers like this on your team is an opportunity waiting to be developed.
This performer is your next highest ROI (Return On Investment) for using your coaching time. Encourage them to come to you for advice and support. Meet with them as often as you can; at least once per week. Have a detailed agenda on what topics you will coach this performer. Use a consistent coaching model to have them perform self-reflection on the coaching focus areas. Identify learning opportunities for them and provide encouragement. Look for opportunities to pair them with a star performer on a team activity. These performers are generally the easiest to coach. They want to learn and be successful.
Solid performer — this performer is motivated, somewhat willing to learn and is not overly ambitious. The solid performer is a person you can count upon to deliver quality work in a reasonable time. The solid performer has the process figured out and will accomplish what needs to be done. They do not feel it is their responsibility to make changes to the work process. However, they always have ideas on how things can be done more effectively. You can count on them to deliver what they say they will deliver. Having people like this on your team can allow you the opportunity to develop the stars and rising stars.
These performers are not necessarily interested in making larger contributions, nor are they slackers. They may have other higher priorities in their lives. Meet with them on a regular basis, perhaps 2-3 times per month to discuss development activities.
This performer is a good source of ideas for development opportunities for your stars and rising stars. The solid performer sees things that could be changed or improved, but is not motivated sufficiently to actually make the changes.
Some mangers try to convince the solid performer to make the effort to become a rising star. I know this because I was one of those managers! Do not take this approach. It will just irritate the solid performer and frustrate you. If the performer does express an interest in raising the performance level, be sure to take advantage of the opportunity. Often management has neglected and taken the solid performer for granted. Value the solid performer and appreciate their contributions. This performer is usually self managed and will allow you time to coach the stars and rising stars.
Struggling performer — this performer is not well motivated, wants things done the way they have always been done and is not ambitious. The quality of their work is low and it takes them longer than the performers above to get something done. They complain about the process of getting work done and have many excuses why they are not able to perform. They often give the appearance of “trying hard”. Having a struggling performer on your team is a major drain on you and the other members of your team.
This performer may have been mis-managed in their career. Probably, this performer is frustrated in their job. For almost every situation, they will explain to you why they cannot be successful. It is always someone else’s fault. Helping a struggling performer to become a solid performer is hard work and one of the most difficult coaching tasks. If you are not successful, then move them out of your team. Do not invest in regular coaching session with this performer. Effective coaches use a one time coaching approach to help the performer improve. The first step in this coaching process is to determine the source of the performance problem. Is it ability or motivation?
To find out if it is ability, ask the struggling performer what they are doing to accomplish their work. If they obviously do not know how to do it, then arrange for a development opportunity for them to acquire the skill. Monitor this process closely to insure the person has the opportunity to acquire the skills necessary. The time allocated to this activity will be in the 30-60 day window. If they cannot acquire the skills, then you will have to move them into a position where they can be successful or move them out of the business.
To find out if it is motivation, ask them how they feel about working in your team. If they have the ability to do the job, why aren’t they doing it? What motivates them? If you can, set up an environment where they will receive the motivation they need. If this is not possible, then you clearly state the consequences of poor performance. In most situations, you would put them on a 30-60 performance improvement plan. Work with your HR professional to help you meet statutory requirements.
Coaching the struggling performer takes a great deal of time and is best limited to a one-time effort on your part to help this performer improve. When you are successful in moving them to the solid performer category, treat them like any other solid performer in terms of your coaching time and effort. Many struggling performers are stuck in this category because of poor management and coaching. By paying attention and holding them accountable, you may experience one of the most positive outcomes of this type of coaching engagement. You have a high probability of helping this performer skip the solid performer category and vault to be a rising star!
Unsatisfactory performer — this performer is not only personally un-motivated, but is a demotivator for others on your team. Their work products are often incomplete and of poor quality. It is amazing how these people continue to be on the payroll. They show up late, leave early and complain about everything. Having a performer like this on your team makes more work for everyone else and drains your personal power for not handling the situation.
This performer has moved from being a struggling performer to a performer who has given up! You may have worked with this performer and they have not responded. They are most likely not skilled enough for the position and have a poor attitude about the job. Usually, when you inform the unsatisfactory performer of their status, they will make an effort to improve. However, this effort does not last, nor is it sufficient. In most cases, unsatisfactory performers lack the ability to do the job. This lack of skill is serious. A reasonable skill development activity cannot overcome this deficiency. The unsatisfactory performer is most likely suited somewhere else.
Coaching this performer is also a one-time activity and is usually a much shorter engagement than coaching the struggling performer. Get your HR professional involved because your objective is to get this person out of your team and into the job or profession that suits them.
Where are you spending your coaching resource? Are you getting the most effective ROI on your investment of time and energy?
Take a quick inventory of how you are spending your coaching time. For the next 25 business days, take a couple of minutes at the end of each day and answer these questions:
Whom did I coach today?
How much time did I spend on that coaching engagement?
(Be sure to include any preparation time you spent)
What result did I get?
After the 25 days, you will be seeing more improved results with your coaching investments! Remember, feed the Big Dogz.
Handling feedback from your manager December 5, 2008Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Coaching, Feedback, Managing up, Performance issues.
Tags: behavior feedback, constructive criticism, criticism, getting feedback, handling your manager, manager feedback
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Ouch! Getting corrective feedback is not always pleasant. The Big Dogz know that corrective feedback is the most powerful feedback — it helps you grow! So how do we handle feedback from our manager? Here is the Big Dogz view on feedback.
First, we must understand there are two types of feedback — performance feedback and behavior feedback. The former is most easy to deal with. When your manager gives you a performance objective, ask your manager to provide a SMART objective.
Actionable and aligned
In addition, make sure you can check on your progress without having to interact with your manager. With these conditions, you can assess your progress on the task and seek help or coaching when needed. These feedback sessions will not be a surprise to you. The Big Dogz take responsibility for their performance on an objective and keeps everyone informed of the progress.
It is the behavioral feedback that catches us by surprise. Of course, there are two types of behavioral feedback — positive and corrective. We sometimes associate the words compliment and criticism with these types of behavior. The first thing the Big Dogz do when getting behavior feedback is to look at the feedback as a positive event. Whenever your manager gives you behavior feedback of either type, try to associate the feedback to some objective or goal you are trying to achieve. Do not take it personally!
For example, if your manager told you that you were effective in answering question at your steering committee presentation, relate that feedback to your desire to gain positive visibility in the organization. If the feedback was corrective, for example, your responses to questions were ineffective; this feedback affects the same goal.
Not everyone is competent at giving behavior feedback. Be tolerant of managers who blurt out stinging remarks. They just do not know how to deliver feedback. Do not let their lack of competency impact the value you can get from feedback. In any feedback event, ask your manager to provide specific examples.
Stay calm and do not get defensive. Make sure you understand the examples. You do not need to agree that the examples are either positive or corrective! This is the best part of getting behavior feedback. Whatever the feedback, you now know how to respond to questions when your manager is present!
After you get this type of feedback, thank your manager for taking the time to help you grow. Go back to your cubicle or quiet place and reflect on the feedback you received. In most cases, the feedback has a great deal of truth associated with it. Try to find this truth and identify how you will be more effective in the future.
If you have an opportunity to be in a similar situation with your manager again, ask them to provide you with feedback after the event. With the right preparation, you can turn a corrective feedback into a positive feedback.
Although it is sometimes painful to hear behavior feedback, the Big Dogz always ask for it. In my own situation, I have learned to value corrective feedback more highly that positive feedback! It seems that I intuitively know when I engage in successful behavior. When I engage in ineffective behavior, I tend to shift responsibility (blame) to other factors like the timing, the environment or the other person. When I learn that I contributed to the ineffective result, helps me avoid those situations in the future.
Be one of the Big Dogz! Start asking for behavior feedback today.
Free resources!! October 17, 2008Posted by rickbron in Achieving goals, Bronder On People, business strategy, Changing behavior, Coaching, Increasing Your Profitability, Management, Performance issues.
Tags: doing more with less, effective, efficient, productivity
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Thought that might get your attention! The Big Dogz know how to get additional resources for free. They do it by focusing on the resources they already have. Most people in the workplace are doing the best they can. They are giving you their concentration and commitment to producing at a high level. Sometimes it is the work that gets in the way of the work getting done. Here is how to get more for less in your team.
Convene a meeting with your team members and tell them you want them to answer two questions for you.
- What can we do to be more efficient?
- What can we do to be more effective?
Notice that the question is “What can we do..”, not “What can be done…”. This is an important distinction. The Big Dogz know that if you ask the latter, you will get suggestions on what others could do. The focus is on us, and what is in our control.
Let me define efficient and effective. I borrow the distinction from Tom Peters in his book, In Search of Excellence.
Efficient — doing things right
Effective — doing the right things
So you ask your people to focus on those two questions and then you leave the meeting. Tell them you will return in 45 minutes to review their suggestions. I can hear some of you saying, “Yeah, right, they will have nothing to say!’ Well, you are probably right. The first time you ask them to do this activity; they will usually produce nothing. They provided suggestions in the past. And, they have been ignored! It is no wonder that they will be reluctant to give you ideas.
Thank them for their time and concentration. Schedule another meeting within 30 days to address the same two questions. This will get them to thinking you are serious about being more efficient and effective. Keep having the meetings until they actually come up with a suggestion. Now do your secret management stuff and get that thing done! If you don’t, you can save time by not having these meetings once a month!
The people who know how to be more efficient and more effective are the people who do the work. Too often managers come up with brainstorm ideas of their own on how the department can be more efficient or effective. Most of the time these ideas could work. People like to have their own ideas. They are more likely to implement a suggestion they came up with rather than one you came up with.
The Big Dogz know that patience pays off. Keep asking your people how to do more with less and they will respond. If you have five people and they improve productivity by 20%, you have gotten another full person for free!
So, now in the next 30 days, you schedule a productivity improvement meeting with your folks. Send me an email at email@example.com. I want to know how it works for you.
Developing managers October 10, 2008Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Coaching, Management.
Tags: develop talent, development, executive development, manger development, middle manager development, new managers, spot talent
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All organizations need managers. The Big Dogz know that having effective managers is no magic act; it takes effort to spot and develop managers that will lead your organization. Three levels of management need to be identified and developed. The three levels are first level, middle and executive management. Here is a look at an approach to spot and develop these managers.
Potential first level manager
What to look for:
1. Ability to manage themselves
2. Strong analytical skills related to problem solving
3. Ability to learn and teach others
4. Motivation to become a leader
5. Concern for others
6. Self awareness
How to develop:
1. Give them team leader assignments to accomplish a goal without giving them authority. If they can get this done, then you can give them position power.
2. Have them chair a task force to investigate a business opportunity within your area of responsibility.
3. Provide them a person to mentor. Set specific learning objectives for the mentee to validate that the candidate can teach others.
4. Ask them to provide feedback on their own performance. Pay attention to insure that they give you balanced, honest feedback. Watch to see if they apply the lessons learned.
5. Ask their opinion about a key organizational issue. How would they handle it? Ask them to justify their answers.
Potential middle manager
What to look for:
- Demonstrated management skill, not just talent
- Demonstrated leadership
- Strong problem solving
- Effective decision maker
- Thinks strategically
- Results that are above average
- Has built strong networks
- Enjoys working through others
- Motivated to advance
How to develop:
- Provide training on higher-level management functions like budgeting, strategic planning, forecasting etc.
- Give them assignments that push skill limits
- Chair a task force that addresses a broad business issue
- Get them in front of higher management to present their team’s results
- Have them sponsor a cross functional team
- Let them manage your budget
- Let them represent you on a major project
- Delegate one of your major responsibilities
- Involve them in your decision making process
Potential executive manager
What to look for:
- Constructively challenges how we do business
- Understands the business, not just their area
- Makes an effort to be informed
- Articulates a vision and strategy
- Volunteers to work across business units
- Focuses on results
- Bases decisions on data
- Surrounds themselves with competent people
How to develop:
- Fund or encourage formal education, especially elements of an MBA
- Sponsor attendance at executive level conferences
- Have them present a business problem with alternative solutions and a recommendation to the executive committee
- Point out cross business unit opportunities
- Get them an executive level mentor
- Encourage them to join outside associations
- Give them an assignment to represent the company in the community
- Have them participate in a public speaking program
The Big Dogz know that these ideas are just the beginning. You will need to be proactive in seeking out development opportunities. Once you start to focus on finding development activities, you will see that it gets easier. The key is to find opportunities that will help the person grow while helping your business grow.
Take a few minutes right now and identify people who you can help move into management.
Performance feedback September 22, 2008Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Coaching, Diagnosing performance problems, Fixing performance problems, Management, Performance issues.
Tags: corrective feedback, Feedback, feedback makes perfect, performance feedback, positive feedback, practice makes perfect
Most of us are familiar with the adage, practice makes perfect. And, most of us would be wrong! The Big Dogz know that it is feedback that makes perfect and that practice makes permanent. There are two types of feedback that you provide to an employee. The first of these is behavior feedback — that is how an employee is behaving. You generally do not give behavior feedback unless the behavior is affecting an employee’s performance or the performance of others. If the behavior is not affecting performance, you may consider asking permission to give behavior feedback. It is like giving someone advice.
The most common type of feedback you give an employee is performance feedback. Not only do you not have to ask permission to give this type of feedback, it is your responsibility and obligation to provide this feedback. Here are a few fundamental principles about performance feedback:
- Feedback is always linked to an objective. It is about a specific result you have asked the employee to achieve.
- Frequency of feedback is dependent upon the performance level of the employee. When performance is low, feedback is more frequent.
- Feedback is most effective when it is balanced. This does not mean you give them the classic “feedback sandwich” — something good, something negative and something good. Most employees know that traditional management training recommends this approach — and they flinch when the manager gives them positive feedback because they know the “but” is coming. By balanced, I mean give positive feedback as often, if not more often, than you give corrective feedback.
- Timeliness of feedback has a direct correlation to the motivational value and the learning associated with the feedback. The closer you provide feedback to the actual result, the more effective that feedback is.
- Effective feedback is consistent. That means when you give feedback, you follow a repeatable process and your employees know what to expect. In fact, after a few iterations through your feedback process, they will be able to do it themselves. Here is such a process:
• State the objective and get the employee to agree that is their objective.
• Ask for their observation on how they are doing
• Give your observation of specific data related to the objective
• If this is corrective feedback, ask, “What are you going to do?” Stay away from “What can we do?” You want them to own the action plan
• If the feedback is positive, then pursue how you could leverage this accomplishment for more visibility or opportunity for the employee.
• What help do you need from me
• Offer suggestions on how they can accomplish the objective
• Get them to summarize the action plan
• Set follow up meeting to discuss progress — to give them more feedback
• Ask them if there is anything else you they to know
• Encourage them
The Big Dogz know that by following this or a customized process like this one, your feedback skills will grow and you can help your employees become “perfect”.
Custom coaching June 19, 2008Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Coaching, Uncategorized.
Tags: coaching customization choice results
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- Eager novice — this is an employee who is new at a specific task and is excited or motivated to perform this task. This person needs specific instructions and close control. If we do not provide the instruction and control the employee will become frustrated by having to learn everything by themselves. By providing direction and control, we insure that we build the relationship and achieve the result we expect.
- Reluctant novice — this is an employee who has some ability with this specific task, but might not be so confident in that ability. This person needs encouragement and an overview of how to accomplish the task. As a coach, we need to address any fears or concerns they may have and express our confidence in them to accomplish the task. We allow the employee greater leeway when it comes to control. Although we still set up frequent checkpoints, we are not as rigorous as with the Eager novice. By providing some direction and control along with strong encouragement we positively impact the relationship and achieve the results we are seeking.
- Reluctant master — this is an employee who has more ability with a particular task and may even have done it before under your excellent coaching. Their confidence of “going it alone” may be low, so our emphasis is on encouragement and motivation. Relative to the task instructions, we engage the employee as to how they would do it. If their approach would work, we let them use it. We ask if they would like suggestions and provide them if the response is affirmative. Using this approach, we enhance our relationship with the employee and make sure we get the result we want.
- Eager master — this is an employee who has mastered the task and is confident in their ability to perform the task. Our role as coach is to provide the time and resources to let them complete the task. They need no guidance or motivation. Their confidence is high and they understand the reason and importance of doing this task. We do not need to put elaborate controls in place since they will get the task done without support from us. We offer to provide support if they need it and may ask them to just let us know when the task is complete. Using this style of coaching with the eager master will result in a good relationship and the business result you asked for.
The Big Dogz know that to optimize results, we need to customize our coaching. You can achieve the same level of results by examining coaching situations and customizing according to the development level of the employee.