Tag: people management (page 1 of 2)

Accountability is About Correction not Discipline

Accountability Not Blame

Accountability is at the heart of leading and managing people. It is about holding people to a standard and then ensuring that they are maintaining that standard. What it should not be about is blaming people and punishing them.

Holding people accountable for their work and addressing underlying issues that are the cause of performance deficiencies should be the goal of a manager or supervisor. Blame assignment should not be a part of this process. And in most cases, the first response shouldn’t be about discipline. Instead, you should be looking for the root cause of the problem, assigning responsibility, and then working with the employee to correct the cause.

Too often managers and supervisors shoot from the hip when addressing performance issues. Instead of taking the time to gather facts and think about what the long-term consequences of their actions are, or what they are looking to achieve, they just jump into blame and punish mode.

When this happens, it serves the opposite purpose of what should be the intended outcome. The manager’s or supervisor’s goal should be the discovery of the root cause of the performance deficiency and then working with the employee to resolve it. Improvement of the individual’s performance should be the focus.

The Goal of Accountability

The purpose of holding people accountable isn’t the same as discipline. Accountability is about establishing performance expectations, communicating them, and helping employees understand where they are falling short. Correction of deficiencies and improvement of performance are the key.

Accountability is not discipline. Discipline may become part of the process after you have performed the other steps necessary to address root cause and help the employee improve performance, but it should not be the focus.

Begin With the End in Mind

Anytime a manager or supervisor is addressing a performance issue they should be thinking about what the end goal is. What does the ideal state of performance look like and how does it differ from the current state. But you also need to consider what the goal is with your relationship with the employee and their relationship with the team. If you have read Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People you will recognize this as Habit 2 – Begin with the End in Mind.

So often we are operating from a state of putting out fires that we don’t always take the time to really think about what the end goal is and what affect our actions are having on individuals in our organization and our team.

When addressing performance issues, the key is to identify what you hope to achieve in the correction of the problem. And to make sure that those actions are in line with overall company and team goals and objectives.

In most cases, the end goal is to maximize efficiencies to ensure profitability. To accomplish this, you need to motivate your employees to want to perform to a level that meets these objectives. Your accountability objectives should be focused on the best way to improve employee performance by engaging the employee in the solution and motivating them to want to correct it.

Placing blame does not motivate people. Being concerned about them and their performance does. Having a genuine concern for the success of the individual, and framing the problem resolution in that light will motivate much more than placing blame.

An Accountability Strategy

When accessing your accountability strategy consider the following:

  • What is the end state that is desired?
  • What actions can I take to try to reach this end state?
  • How will the employee perceive your actions?
  • In what way will your actions affect the team?
  • How will your actions help reach organizational goals?
  • What is the best way to identify the root cause of the problem?
  • How can I help the employee improve their performance?

Accountability is about setting clear expectations, goals, and consequences (both positive and negative). The goal is to help employees improve their performance with the end goal of meeting organizational objects. It is not about placing blame but is about identifying the root cause of performance problems and correcting them with the end in mind.

Messaging – Its What You Say and How You Say It

Thinking about your messaging – how you deliver a message – can determine how successful you are in your communications.

Messaging is how you deliver a message and why. You need to give thought as to what the desired outcome is that you are trying to achieve. Also important is how the message will be perceived.

A blunt message with no consideration of perception will act like a hammer. It will be an attack and make people shut down.

When considering messaging here are some things to think about:

First, could the message be a negative or a positive? If it could be a negative how could you turn it into a positive?

An example: your team is not meeting its production goals. You need to communicate this in a way that helps them understand how they are falling short but doesn’t make them feel that they are being taken to task. The goal should be to motivate not frustrate.

Can you deliver the message in a way that shows concern for the best interest of your team and puts consideration on achieving organizational goals?

Second, what are you trying to achieve because of the communication? Hopefully, the communication isn’t to instill fear and intimidation.

In the example above it should be about improving your team’s performance. So, the messaging should be about concern for your team and help them to achieve their goals.

Third, once you have formulated the message consider how it will be perceived. In your mind, it may be a benign message but that may not be how others will perceive it.

You must consider how others will interpret your message. Try to see it from their perspective. How would you understand it if you were in their shoes?

Finally, think about what your motivation is. Why are you delivering this message? Is it because you’re upset, excited, encouraging?

If you’re upset and looking to get a quick fix to a problem – STOP. Give yourself some time to cool off and think about a better way to communicate what it is that is on your mind.

Before running head first to address a problem consider your messaging. Make sure you are doing things the right way for the right reason.

Think about how others will receive the message. Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself how you would feel receiving the message.

Make sure your motivations are in line with your values. Don’t allow your emotions to deliver a message that will blow up on you.

Messaging can be delivered in a way that will either motivate or demotivate. By taking a little time upfront to consider what your goals are and how the message will be perceived you can ensure that your communication will be a positive one.


Free Introductory Management Course Coming!

I am putting together my first management training offering. Keep an eye out for my first course offering a FREE 8-Week introductory management course titled “How to Succeed as a New Manager or Supervisor”.

More details to follow in the coming week. I hope you’ll join me on this journey. I know you will really enjoy this interactive learning course which will the be first of many course offerings to follow.

I am here to help you succeed in your management and supervisory role. By sharing my knowledge and experience I hope to give you the tools to succeed. All course will be offered at fair prices and will always include my help at every stage along the way.

Comment below to let me know what courses you would like to see produced. What do you struggle with most as a manager or supervisor?

Empathy for the Person Not Just the Employee

It is easy to have empathy for our employees and the struggles they face at work, but do you also practice empathy for the individual person?

An employee’s happiness and satisfaction at work aren’t tied just to the internal factors of the workplace, they are also a product of external factors that originate in the employee’s personal life.

Our employees are whole people, not just one-dimensional beings. And while we can’t control what happens outside the workplace we none the less need to be aware of anything that is going on in an employees personal life that is impacting their work life in a negative manner.

Our concern also needs to be about the person, not just about the effect that the problems are causing on their work performance.

Empathy has to come from a genuine place of concern. It can’t be manufactured or superficial.

So what can a manager or supervisor do for an employee that is having issues outside the workplace?

To start with you can listen. Just be available to understand their problems and offer a sympathetic ear.

A word of caution on this though – even though you want to be empathetic you cannot solve their problems. You also cannot be their counselor, spiritual advisor, or psychiatrist.

Make sure that you establish clear boundaries. You don’t want to take on their problems or allow their personal issues to be an excuse for poor work performance.

Second, you can reach out to your human resources department to see if there are any employee assistance programs (EAP) that can offer counseling service that might be of benefit to the employee.

Smart companies understand the impact personal issues can have on employees. These companies offer many employee assistance programs to help employees navigate difficulties in their personal lives. Often times these services are free to the employee and 100% confidential.

Managing people requires that we find ways for our employees to have good work/life balance. It means that we need to be aware of workplace stress as well as personal issues that are causing a loss in workplace satisfaction.

Even though we cannot resolve an employees personal problems, allowing ourselves to be personally consumed by them, we can offer empathy, compassion, and resources to help them deal with the issues in their own time and manner.

Our employee’s happiness may not be our responsibility but creating an atmosphere where it is more likely they will be happy is. And the best way to create that atmosphere is to practice empathy, to care about your people, and to be available when they need you.

For more on the personal side of management check out my other post The People Connections – Making for a Happy Workplace.



When Your Attitude is the Problem and How to Fix it

Attitude is everything. How others perceive our emotional state affects how they interact with us. You may be having a negative impact on your relationships with your team members and not even know that it’s happening.

Not long ago I was giving an employee his annual performance review. It was a very positive interaction with an employee that I genuinely enjoy working with. At the end of the review, the employee shared some very candid feedback with me about my relationship with one of his coworkers.

He told me that the co-worker felt unappreciated my be. This co-worker never knew what version of me he would see his first thing in the morning – the happy-go-lucky version or the sour version.

No matter how hard this employee worked, or how much extra he gave he felt like I didn’t appreciate it. Why? Because I never said thank you and never told him what a good job he was doing.

At the end of receiving this feedback, I was a little speechless. I thanked the employee for his honesty and letting me know about this. I told him I would give it some serious thought and consider how I could change my approach.

This was an eye-opening experience for me. I was very grateful to this employee and his honesty. I was grateful that he felt comfortable enough to tell me the truth and that he said it in a way that was respectful of me and his coworker.

After receiving this feedback I re-evaluated how I was presenting myself and how I was engaging my team. And to my dismay, I realized that I had a lot of work to do.

So what did I do to improve my relationship, not just with this one employee, but my entire team?

First, I set to work improving my own attitude. Realizing that I quickly became irritated when I walked in to work to a bunch of problems I resolved to focus on the positive, on the things that were going good, first thing in the morning instead of the negative.

Second, I took a few minutes to clear my mind and check my emotional state before setting off out on the floor to visit with my team, making sure to hit the floor with a smile on my face instead of a grumpy look.

Third, I started to engage people on a personal level asking them how they were doing and genuinely listening to their problems taking the focus off of myself and my problems.

Finally, I began to make time every morning to find something to be grateful for and recognize the hard work that my team was doing. Now I look for opportunities to give recognition and always say thank you freely, genuinely, and frequently.

When one of your team mates has a bad attitude you need to look yourself in the mirror and see if you might be the reason why.

It isn’t easy admitting when you are creating the problems that are causing a member of your team to be dissatisfied with their work. But the sooner you recognized your issue the sooner you can get to work correcting it.

Be honest with yourself and with your team. Be grateful when someone on your team is honest enough to tell you the truth about yourself. Always show gratitude and respect for the work your team members do. Don’t let your problems become your team’s problems. Always put other people and their problems first.

If you take these simple acts and practice genuine concern for your employees it will help ensure that you and your attitude isn’t going to create stress for the people on your team.

What do you Value as a Manager?

As managers of people, we need to decide what it is we value. We also need to ensure that our values are rightly ordered to ensure that we are treating our people, and the organizations we work for properly.

If we value things like power, prestige, and recognition then are we really serving our employees and organizations in the right way?

How can we serve others if our values are self-centered? That isn’t to say there is anything wrong with wanting to be recognized and rewarded for the work we do. We should want these things. But if they become the overriding motivation for what we do then the people will get lost in our desires.

When we lose sight of the people we end up damaging relationships. All our actions as managers are dependent on relationships and serving others. It is the value of these relationships that lead to individual and organizational success.

So we have to begin with right values. I challenge you to sit down right now and make a list of what your career and personal values are. Maybe it would help to provide a definition.

For the sake of this article, we will define value as “a person’s principles or standards of behavior; one’s judgment of what is important in life” (source).

What is important in life to you? What are the underlying principles that guide you?

I believe that every individual has intrinsic value and that every individual brings their own value to whatever group they belong to. In addition, we are all deserving of respect and the right to explore our own strengths in a manner that allows us to achieve our greatest end.

As a manager, I hold the principle that I have a duty to serve both the organization that I work for and the people that I am tasked with managing.

With these values as my guide, I formulate how I will deal with and interact with the members of my team. And I hope they help me to treat all the people I deal with in a manner of respect and dignity.

Values help us to form a view of the world and the people around us. They act as guides to help us act in a consistent manner. But if we never take the time to consider our values in a deep and meaningful way then we are guided by nothing but our feelings in the moment.

Sit down today and take some time to write down the things that you value. Then consider if you are acting in a manner that is consistent with those stated values, and if not then what are you going to do to change that?

Is it so Hard to Like our Employees?

I know, employees are difficult.

Employees can be unreasonable, childish, difficult, selfish, short-sighted, and stubborn. But without them, your employer wouldn’t need you. The same adjectives could also be used to describe managers and supervisors.

Human beings, in general, are difficult and unreasonable. We all want what is best for us, not necessarily what is best for others. So we need to look past the negatives that other people bring to an organization and start to focus on what we can do to have a positive impact on these fellow human beings in order to benefit the overall team.

Nobody says you have to love everybody. That is reserved for a select group of people within your circle of influence. You don’t even have to hang out with them after work. But you do need to find the positive in each person you deal with so that you can get the best out of each team member.

What keeps you from seeing the positive and finding a way to like the most difficult of people? You. Because the only thing that you have any control over is yourself. When leading a diverse group of people it is important to put your own ego aside. A focus on self will never inspire others. It will never allow you to see the good in others.

Everybody has some good characteristics. It can be difficult to see when our emotions are running hot, but it is out there. You just need to dig deep sometimes and get past your own feelings to see the truth.

Managers and supervisor, if they are going to be successful leaders, need to master their own emotions and see past their own limitations.

In order to master your emotions and see the best in others you need to understand one truth – the only thing in this world you have control over are your own thoughts and actions. That is it. You control nothing else.

And in relation to only having control of self is the fact that the only place we are able to act is in the present. It is the only time that people can implement change. The past is dead and the future in unknown. We cannot affect the past and we can only plan for an uncertain future. So stop dwelling on what has happened or what will be. Live in the now and engage people in the now.

Don’t hold on to the past or make assumptions about a person’s ability to change. Everybody is able to change it is just a matter of whether or not they want to. Sometimes all it takes is the right motivation to get them to change.

Yelling, screaming, and intimidation is not a good strategy to inspire people to embrace change.

The more you push people and back them into a corner, the more they will resist change. This is just part of human nature. When we feel threatened we turn to a defensive mode. This means we justify our position and dig into that position. Once this happens there is no hope to get buy in.

Jack Welch, former CEO of GE, in his Welch Way leadership program brings up the idea of WIFM – what’s in it for me – as a consideration for getting buy-in to changes. This is what motivates your employees. And it is what you have to figure out if you’re going to get them to buy into your plans.

Understanding employee motivation from a neutral, non-judgemental standpoint is essential to getting the best out of people. You have to free yourself from your own prejudices and ideas of what is right and wrong. Instead, focus on seeing things through the lens of the employees you manage. Then you can structure a plan that will meet their needs, gaining their buy-in, so you can meet the organization’s needs.

So instead of focusing on the negative aspects of your people, the elements of human nature that you can’t control, focus on finding out what their strengths are and what motivates them. Try liking your people. You might just find that there is more good than bad in them.

Managing Generational Differences

We hear so much these days about how the millennial generation is affecting change in the workplace. It is said as if this is something new or unique. But are the generational difference between Millennials and other generations that different and do we need to reinvent the workplace to conform to their values or should they conform to meet the organization’s values?

I come from Generation X. We are the group that came after the baby boomers. Born from 1965-1984 (source: The Atlantic Magazine).We were known as being disaffected, spoiled, and moody.

Shaped by the post-Vietnam environment where nothing was to be trusted. The government was defined by Nixon and the 1970’s. Our views of marriage were formed by the high rates of divorce we all lived through. We saw our parents as having given up on their values and beliefs in exchange for a comfortable, mundane suburban existence.

Existential angst became our stock in trade. We were rebelling against everything and nothing. And in the end, we became more like our parents. The revolution was without substance.

It is popular for my generation to dismiss Millennials as lazy, spoiled, and lacking a sense of what the real world is about.The truth is Millennials want the same thing we wanted – a sense of purpose and place in this world. After all isn’t that what we all want. And while my generation sacrificed our values for comfort, and ultimately created the generation we now despise, they really aren’t so much different from us.

So how do we manage differences between the generations in the workplace?

First, we have to start by remembering what it was like being young and idealistic. If we can remember back that far we will probably realize that we weren’t so much different.

Put yourself in the younger person’s shoes. Try to empathize with them and understand what it is that motivates them. Give them credit for having something valuable to offer.

If you’re dealing with an older workforce the story is the same. Understand that where they are at in their life is different from where you are at, and because of this, you are going to have different values and different expectations. But because they have different values doesn’t mean that they don’t have anything of substance to offer.You need to find places of common ground where you can come together no matter the generational milieu that each person inhabits.

Find what motivates and then use that to engage and get the best out of that person. This isn’t about manipulating people. It is about taking a genuine interest in learning about a person and then tailoring your management style to meet their needs.

There is no one style that works for all people or all generations. You need to keep an open mind and be willing to change your style to suit the need of your employees.

So that begs the next question – should the workplace conform to meet the needs of the individual or should the individual conform to meet the values of the organization? The answer is yes – both.

An organization, like an individual, must define its values and then set an expectation that each member of the organization should conform to. There needs to be a recognition that part of what an individual is getting paid for is to support organizational values. This does not mean they need to compromise their personal values, they just need to adapt to the values of the workplace. If they can’t then they need to seek employment with a business that more closely aligns with their own personal values.

At the same time, the organization needs to be adaptable to understanding the needs of its employees and make accommodations that remain in line with organization values. Managers should be open to, and respectful of, the individual’s values.What does that mean for you as a manager? First, you need to support the company and promote its values. Second, you need to understand your people’s needs, and where you have the ability, be flexible with them to meet their needs.

There is no need to be stubborn and put up barriers to people because you don’t agree with all their values.

Instead, we must use our empathy, the skill of understanding other people’s needs, and consider their point of view. Sometimes just taking the time to understand, even if you can’t give them what they want, will win their motivation and dedication.

There will always be generational differences in the workplace and each generation will always see the others as somehow inferior to their own. This is human nature. As managers, we need to engage and understand all the different generations within our workplace and find ways to motivate and get them all to work together in a harmonious manner.

Older posts

© 2017

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑