Simple Template – how to record the “other things” our team members do…

As a leader, there is no question that the goals you set for your team members are of ultimate importance. High performance, growth, and development all come from effective goals and efficient tracking of accomplishments. A common approach to these ‘large goals’ in most companies is a regular cadence of some sort (quarterly, annual etc.).  Often compensation increases and performance ratings all tied to these goals as well…

We can talk about the complexities of these topics (and how they all connect together) a different time… But first, let’s tackle a really common problem when managing an engaged, high performing employee.

The problem is this: there is so much work done in between, or outside of, those goals set on a regular cadence.  How do we account for all that work, and all the “stuff” being done?  I mean, it wouldn’t be fair to exclude it entirely when talking about performance rating, compensation, promotion and career development, right?

Have you ever found yourself in this situation?

Here’s a simple idea I’m going to try on my team.  The concept is like a “journal” of sorts – capture stuff you have done over a period of time, and when it comes time to look back/review, you can have one simple document that allows a thorough view of performance.

The template looks like this (we are using a shared Google doc, but many different formats could work):

OCO template

There are three simple sections:

  1. Opportunities – what has come up that needs to be done?   What chances have I had to do great work, and contribute in a meaningful way, that isn’t necessarily captured by my regularly scheduled goals?
  2. Contributions – what did I do when these opportunities came up?  How did I “grab the bull by the horns” and demonstrate my skill and perseverance?
  3. Outcomes – what was the ultimate result of the work I did?  What positive impact did I have?  (this one is really important)

So, if you manage really good employees who are doing great things but may have a hard time capturing it, give this template a shot!

Please share feedback below!  I would love to share stories with others who may be in a similar situation!

The Role of Grub in Performance Management

(Guest Author Jared Olsen, for Real. Simple. Leadership.)

Grub, food, chow, it all plays a vital part in effective leadership.  Having worked in leadership for over 10 years I’ve had many difficult conversations.  Those conversations have been most effective when I’ve been honest, bold, and surrounded by grub.  Take for example the employee’s perspective when grub is not involved.

“John, do you have a minute we could talk in my office?”  As John sits down he has no idea what is going on, is sitting on a hard wooden chair, the office door is shut, and the manager I am taking a position of power sitting behind their desk as John is totally exposed.  “John, I’ll get straight to it, we’ve received complaints about your customer service.”  John is now on the defense, scared, and alone.  The result, is whatever you say could go in one ear and out the other for John and he fears going into your office ever again.

Now let’s look at involving grub to this conversation.

“John, I was wondering if you might be free at lunch today to go grab a bite of food with me?”  John says, “Sounds great, what’s up?”  “I’ve been getting some customer feedback that I’d like to talk to you about.”

John now has time to prepare and reflect on his recent customer service, this way he shouldn’t be blindsided.  When you go out to eat, you’re both in a neutral location where no one has home field advantage.  Food invites casual conversation, small talk, and puts you both at ease.  This is a great time to show the human side of who you both are.

“John, I wanted to share some feedback with you about your customer service.  I know that there are some areas we can improve on and I just want to know your thoughts and how I can help.”

John is not defensive but now views his manager as a resource and someone willing to help.  Instead of feeling alone, he feels empowered, and working with you, John has a leader instead of a manager.  What changed?  Grub.  Food puts you at ease and helps more important conversations result.

jared-olsenDuring his career, Jared Olsen has promoted innovative and unique ideas to the business community in Utah.  Jared started his career in Human Resources and has worked for large and small businesses, and has seen the importance of leadership and company culture which has led to the success and demise of several businesses.

Jared received his undergraduate from the University of Utah, and his MBA from University of Phoenix.  Jared is a certified SPHR and SHRM-SCP.  Jared has been the President of the Salt Lake Society for Human Resource Management, sits on a compensation committee with South Jordan city to consult with the Mayor on city staffing and compensation needs, and is the creator of the largest LinkedIn group in Utah focusing on HR called, Salt Lake City Human Resource Professionals.

Jared currently is the Owner of REYFYA (ray-fee-a) which is an outsourced culture company.  Jared truly believes the root cause of any business issue is a cultural opportunity.  Whether it is leadership, training, hiring, or coaching, culture is at the heart of any business.  REYFYA’s approach to culture shows the human side of businesses and has a fresh millennial approach.  Additionally, Jared is the Director of Business Operations at Xima Software which is the 4th fastest growing company in Utah, and two-time winner of the best place to work in Utah with under 40 employees.  In 2015 Jared was selected as a CXO Winner by Utah Business Magazine as one of the up and coming C-Suite executives in the state of Utah.

The Most Important Phrase in Performance Conversations

For many, July represents the time of year for “mid-year” discussions regarding performance.  Some call them “mid-year appraisals” or “mid-year assessments” or “mid-year performance reviews”.  This can be a stressful, frustrating experience for Managers and Employees both.

I would recommend one quote that helps in making these conversations much more effective:

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

– Maya Angelou

So, how do you ensure that an Employee will “feel” good about the conversation?  Here’s the first step:  Decide what the purpose of the conversation is.

  • Are you doing it because you are mandated by ‘Corporate’ or HR?  Are you fulfilling some other type of requirement?  If so, that will come shining through to the Employee (and spoiler alert:  it probably won’t go well!).
  • Are you truly trying to help the Employee achieve more, find more success?  Think of that.  Tell them – let that mindset drive your conversation.
  • If you are trying to improve poor performance, that is a great reason to have such a discussion.  But beware, this purpose needs another level deeper:  why are you trying to improve performance? performance discussion Is it to fire them?  Because your boss told you to?  Because you need a scapegoat for something that was missed?  As in other cases, the true reason will come shining through, and will definitely be felt.***
  • If you can’t even explain the purpose yourself, the Employee will definitely feel it.  This is the most common cause of frustration and poor conversations.

After you understand your purpose for the conversation, the next step is simple to say, but harder to do:  practice.

I don’t mean stand in front of a mirror and rehearse what you are going to say.  I mean create opportunities for Performance Conversations more frequently.  Share with your team the reason you are doing it.  That reason is simple: because you want to be better at giving good, helpful information about their performance (something they will want from you as well).  I am confident they will be helpful and understanding as you do this, as long as you both keep the purpose in mind.

With a solid purpose in mind, and a little bit of practice, your Employees will feel good about Performance Conversations.  And you will too.

***I wrote more about coaching underperformers here.


Building High Performance

<originally written in July 2015>

The HR field is abuzz over Performance Management it seems.  Even at the 2015 National SHRM conference in Las Vegas, many speakers and sessions were littered with such topics as “killing performance ratings” or “new and improved performance management” and other similar topics.

Well, I’m excited to be working at a place where we are already making some of those significant changes.  We aren’t just modifying or simplifying “Performance Management”.  We aren’t just changing our rating scale or forcing the organization to go through a tedious process that doesn’t add value.

We are building something.

What are we building, you ask?

Well, we are building High Performance.  Results that benefit the employee and the company, delivered in a way consistent with our values. Continue reading

Coaching Challenges: Under Performing Team Members

<originally written in July, 2014 – during the World Cup of soccer>

If you’re a manager or supervisor, the topic of “performance management” or “performance improvement” is likely a topic that makes you cringe. Working through awkward conversations with woeful under-performers and providing negative feedback is something that doesn’t come naturally for most leaders, and can be a painful topic for many employees.

Do you feel this is an area in which you can improve? When in doubt, think like a coach!!!

coaching challenges

Brief consideration of how Jurgen Klinsmann (U.S.), Joachim Löw (Germany) or Alejandro Sabella (Argentina) coach their teams during the World Cup may give us a clue. It is a common occurrence to see them, or almost any other coach, on the sidelines, yelling instruction and feedback, giving constant encouragement, and constantly scanning for improvements and strategic corrections.

On the field of competition, it is clear the coach and players are on the same team; they very clearly want the same goals. Is that always the case in your contact center? Are supervisors, managers and quality coaches clearly seen as “on my side,” or are they seen as something of an adversary?

Let’s examine some ways the coach of your favorite team helps improve performance, and demonstrate that we are all on the same team: Continue reading