I just finished reading Making Managers into Leaders, which should more appropriately have been titled, How to Get Your Project, Your Sales, Your Relationships, Etc. Back on Track. Maybe that’s too long for a title, so they went with Making Managers into Leaders.
The book talks about the Five-Step Framework for Breakthrough Results:
1. What is already working? What successes have we had?
2. What makes it work? What causes that success?
3. What is the objective? What are we trying to accomplish?
4. What are the benefits of accomplishing it? What will it do for each of the stakeholders?
5. What can we do more, better, or differently to move closer to the objective? Who will do what by when? How will my measure progress?
I’m not going to explore the depths of each question – you can read the book yourself. I do want to talk about why it works. It’s all about engagement. Look at the first question. We are talking about successes, not failures. No one is being beaten up; there is no need for anyone to get defensive. Employees get criticized enough as it is when something is not going right; there is no need to spend time hashing it over again and again. The phrase “don’t beat a dead horse” comes to mind. Instead, let’s analyze what is working and do more of that!
The fourth set of questions is about buy-in. I have talked about the importance of employee buy-in to achieve results, and here it surfaces again. If we can look at what the benefits are, people will begin to see beyond their paycheck. This question isn’t just talking about the benefits to the customer, the company, etc.; the point is to go through the benefits from the outside-in, from the customer all the way down to individual team members. This benefit may be different for each individual, so it’s important to let them decide what the benefit is, you as a manager can’t tell them.
The second half of the fifth set of questions is about accountability. This is another aspect of employee engagement. Making a plan without having follow-through is like reading a recipe but not making the cake. Plans need to be made complete with who it’s assigned to and the date it’s due. If it doesn’t happen, there needs to be follow-up. Don’t take follow-up as a license to criticize. It’s about asking effective questions to uncover what happened and then focusing again on what did work.
Some of you may be thinking that there must be a point when you need to address poor performance, and that’s true. If you have an employee who consistently doesn’t meet the objectives that they were a part of creating, it’s time to see if you can uncover why. This doesn’t have to be a negative experience. Instead, ask questions, and find out what is preventing success. At one level or another, the root cause will be one of two things:
Employee disengagement occurs for many reasons, such as when the employee doesn’t believe in the company, doesn’t find satisfaction in the work, or doesn’t like his boss or co-workers. If this happens, getting to the root cause is critical to decide what path to take.
Wrong person, wrong place.
Having an employee in the wrong position will affect results. It’s important to evaluate a person’s skills and interests and to see if they align with the position they’re in or project they’re on.
I highly suggest reading this book. I am confident that it will help you solve many issues you are facing and will also raise employee morale.