Posts Tagged coaching
It’s people and their associated behaviors—not just spreadsheets and action plans—that drive successful projects. An effective manager-employee connection is vital: everyone has times when they need support, direction, and encouragement to stay energized and committed. Still, the notion of managers establishing and sustaining relationships with their people is often overshadowed by the day-to-day work of managing projects.
Here are four relationship building practices managers can use to help employees stay focused, stay energized, and COPE with workplace demands.
- Career planning. When employees believe there are options for advancement, they are more likely to have a high level of commitment. But it is important to remember that career advancement means different things to different people. One person might have a desire to lead others while another is content to be a specialist without supervisory responsibility. Successful leaders open a dialogue about specific options that are important to each employee, review potential paths to achieving goals, and maintain an ongoing conversation.
- Open door approach. Next, employees need to see the manager as easily accessible. An open door approach is a relationship building tool that enables a trusting, two-way dialogue. This can be achieved through MBWA (management by walking around—somewhat of a lost art); one-on-one meetings that create a safe harbor for exchange; reserving time in the office for employees to visit as desired; and using 360-degree feedback. Reserved office hours might take many of us back to university days when professors welcomed a visit to discuss a class assignment or clarify a topic. In addition to gathering needed information, these hours were conducive to relationship building—students knew they would be welcome without appointment or concern about interrupting workflow.
- Problem solving. The open door approach not only creates an environment and opportunity for exchange, it also provides a forum for problem solving. Problem solving often requires the support of others—and its success can depend upon the extent and effectiveness of the manager-employee relationship. If a solution calls for a change in policy, an allocation of resources, or something else requiring a manager’s involvement, the presence of a quality manager-employee relationship will smooth the process.
- Engaged Innovation. Innovation can move the agency needle on breakthroughs related to delivering the best public service. Often the answer to recurring and persistent issues can be found at the point of delivery: customer-facing employees will likely have ideas on how to remove obstacles to success. Bringing these innovative ideas forward requires engagement on the part of the manager and the employee—and the level of engagement is based on the success of their relationship.
Every agency should explore the degree to which leaders acknowledge, understand, and participate in relationship building. This is not a “nice-to-have” task; effective manager-employee relationships should be an important component of every workplace.
Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry positioned his strategy for implementing a more effective performance review process within the Federal Government at the Excellence In Government conference this week. Berry has referred to the current review process ad “infrequent and rote.” His vision is to encourage managers to give frequent recognition and praise for good work to keep employees motivated and to ensure an increase in the lines of communication. In addition, the OPM just completed a pilot mentoring initiative in June and plans to implement a mentor program later this year.
In their new book, Helping People Win At Work, leadership experts Ken Blanchard and Garry Ridge support Berry’s sentiments. Ridge believes that there are three aspects of an effective performance review; planning, execution, and review and learning. Both Blanchard and Ridge use the analogy of providing students with the final exam and giving them the answers. Managers sit with their direct reports once a year to establish SMART goals and create the employee’s ‘final exam,” they then must coach them throughout the year to support the agreed upon goals and tell them how to accomplish those set goals. They call this philosophy, “Don’t mark my paper, help me get an A.” The last aspect, review and learning, helps managers and employees look for any learnings they may have encountered and determine what is working and what isn’t.
The concept of continuous coaching throughout the year has the biggest impact on performance. While goal-setting provides direction and gets performance started, what keeps performance going and helps achieve the goals is day-to-day coaching. Unfortunately, this is the step that is missing in most agencies. Typically, when annual reviews are complete and goals are set, they are filed away until the following year.
I agree with and support John Berry’s initiative to improve the overall performance process with frequent recognition and praise. This form of communication is an excellent motivator and builder of trust among mangers and their direct reports.
How often do you communicate with your manager about your performance?
Listen to Garry talk about how the power that managers have is within the people around them.
When President Obama announced the federal pay freeze late last year, I am sure a lot of private sector employees felt the pain of the federal workers that will be affected by this decision. Pay cuts and salary freezes have been quite common with the declining economy and many people from both the public and private sector have had to perform the same job for less money.
In my last blog, I wrote about ways to incentivize employees to keep them motivated and their morale high, without hurting the already cut budget. I came across some great ways managers can accomplish this, but how are managers evaluating their direct reports’ performance and providing feedback, good and bad, to direct employees towards success?
An article on GovExec.com assesses the government’s employee performance appraisal process and where there is potential room for improvement. Are leaders working with their staff to create goals and ways to accomplish those goals? Are they defining how each individual can contribute to the goals of the organization they work for? Authors and leadership specialists, Ken Blanchard and Garry Ridge, wrote Helping People WIN at WORK with a philosophy called, “Don’t mark my paper, help me get an A” in mind. The basis of this philosophy is to tell your employees how to accomplish their goals to ensure that they achieve what they set out to do.
The book outlines three aspects of an effective performance review:
Planning – The process starts with both the leader and the direct report agreeing on essential functions that describe the responsibilities of the employee within their job position.
Execution – When everyone is clear on the observable and measureable goals, leaders need to help their team reach their goals by coaching them on a daily basis.
Review and Learning – It is important to take the time to pause, review progress, and look for learnings – whether mistakes have been made or not. You don’t want to save up feedback until someone fails.
How do you think the government can improve the employee appraisal process?
Click here to watch a webinar on how to develop an employee performance development process that will create an engaging work environment.