Volume 43 Number 4
Bottom Line: Leading Your Charges on the Field & Coaching a Winner in the Office
First, let me state that I have never met a businessperson that couldn't improve their personal effectiveness by at least 25 percent-many by 50 percent.
A manager must grow at a faster rate than his own group. Only then has he or she earned the right to expect improved productivity. This method is preferred much more than them thinking they're OK and telling people they aren't doing their jobs well enough. Wise men learn from fools more than fools learn from wise men. Or, as British philosopher Herbert Spencer once put it eloquently: "The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools."
Third, some managers don't know how to provide high-quality coaching and this proves very destructive. They must understand it isn't what you say, but how you say it. Let's call it "style." I suggest, in most cases, that doses of humor in certain situations help because it creates a fun, non-threatening environment. To be pleasing to people is a big step toward persuading them to your point of view. I also suggest coaching and personal meetings be conducted frequently over beverages or even a meal. It has been my experience that people are most relaxed and receptive over a meal/beverage or when lying down. If you aren't a couch-type psychologist, only one of these is an option.
Reach out to them
At the meeting's end, you must agree to methods and dates for follow-up. In most cases, it's smart to touch base the following day to get a "reading" of the person's mindset, attitude and their initial progress. Afterward, follow up weekly.
An area many managers are ill equipped to do a good/great job at is with performance appraisals. Too many are still conducted as a one-way session-a "boss with a subordinate." Leadership is a two-way street. If you expect loyalty, respect and care for your business, it starts with you. You aren't just the boss; you're a servant. There is a big difference between the two. Your attitude, at the beginning of the appraisal, will help determine the ultimate outcome.
Praise only, please
Always remember to take care of a basic need by letting the individual know how important they are to the organization. Along with that important message, share how important it is they display growth in a current area that needs improving or a new area of responsibility. Also, share with them that they don't need to score 100 percent in every area. Add a light-hearted comment such as, "If at first you don't succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried." Again, a little touch of humor that's well timed is helpful. Then, let them know to "please come see me whenever you want to bounce your progress off of me. I would love to help you succeed." That send-off promotes trust, positive relationships and an open style of communication.
Reinforce the goal
"Stud Tires Out," "Panda Mating Fails-Veterinarian Takes Over," "Prostitutes Appeal to Pope," "Iraqi Head Seeks Arms," and "Eye Drops off Shelf."
The point is to make sure the employee doesn't return for a follow-up meeting and say, "Oh, I didn't understand you to be saying that when we met." I am sure you've heard that line before? Be clear and confirm it in writing. Leave nothing to chance.
Great coaching is about as rare as 70 home run seasons. It's too bad because it hurts revenues-and peoples' productivity in the workplace.
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