Anecdotal evidence suggests that managers found it even more difficult during lockdown to deal with underperformance than before. To discuss poor performance now when you have let it ride for quite some time is excruciating for all concerned. Add to the mix the need many businesses have to up their game to meet a renewed economy, and it is clear that increasing productivity and effectiveness needs to be on the management agenda.

Here are some pointers

  • It is more productive to focus on what needs to be achieved than on what hasn’t been achieved, or what is failing. This can be especially difficult where people are publicly accountable and their results are published for all to see. Don’t expect this to galvanise people into action. More likely, they will just find someone or something else to blame, setting in motion a downward spiral. Instead, break down the whole improvement task into achievable chunks with clear milestones and timescales.
  • Be clear about what you want each individual to achieve and make it achievable. To do this, identify one area for improvement that would make a step change difference but that with extra effort and support is within their capability. Try and start with something that’s a quick win and that draws on strengths.
  • Remember, if they knew how to do it, they would probably be doing it already, so articulating it clearly and providing support is essential.
  • Celebrate success and then quickly move onto the next goal so as not to create a false sense.
  • Be clear about your vision so you give your people something to relate to. Your vision doesn’t have to be clever or complicated but should simply represent what you stand for. Eg ‘better together’ to represent how you work with your clients.
  • Evidence from neuroscience shows that receiving negative feedback is like receiving a blow to the head, so be positive, and forward-focused as well as clear about the required standard.
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©Janice Caplan 2020