The company has decided it needs to eliminate costs. Hundreds of jobs are on the line. The executives of each division have been directed to cut costs by 35%. The tension throughout the company is so thick you can cut it with a knife. You know some departments will be totally eliminated because the work can be outsourced to save money.
You are a manager with over 20 years of seniority and you know your department is NOT being eliminated. You breathe a sigh of relief; after all, you do have personal ties to the owners. You show up for a weekly meeting with your boss, and he catches you off guard…your job has been eliminated. Your world changes in an instant! You don't understand! Your performance reviews have been good for 20+ years! You've done your job! Nobody has ever told you that you're NOT doing a good job! The shock consumes you in the months to come as you try to make sense of it all.
(What you don't know is that you have long had a reputation of someone who is extremely difficult to work with. Your many internal customers have complained about you all along. You shrugged off the complaints, and your boss chose not to deal with it or reflect it in your performance reviews.)
This scenario is in fact real! Unfortunately, corporations dealt with the same scenario (with a few details changed) over and over again. The lesson learned here…"Inadequate performance management systems" damage individuals and companies.
For the past few years' companies have furiously worked to upgrade the effectiveness of their performance management systems. They are establishing core competencies, identifying performance objectives and measures, and even talking about ongoing coaching.
A 2002 study by Mercer Human Resource Consulting reveals that ongoing coaching is still in short supply! The data indicates that 78% of employees surveyed said their managers routinely conduct annual performance reviews. It also indicated that 26% said managers routinely provide ongoing performance feedback and coaching.
Could you be blindsided by a scenario similar to the one mentioned earlier?
My personal belief is that managers (at all levels) don't give feedback or coach on an ongoing basis because they don't know how.
Today, there are a multitude of training programs and support systems for managers who really want to learn to coach on an ongoing basis. They can get their own coach or they can attend a workshop like "The Coaching Clinic ©". More info can be found at www.connectionscoach.com.
In the meantime, here are three ways you can begin to manage performance every day through coaching:
Make time to acknowledge contributions. Give credit where credit is due. Challenge them to play a bigger game. Inspire them to give the performance of a lifetime.
Partner with them on projects. Do more asking versus telling. Become genuinely curious in their ideas and concepts. Give them the lead role. Support them when they stumble. Encourage them to get up and try again.
Be specific about what exactly makes the difference. Teach them how they can make a difference (do more, do less, keep doing). Incorporate "lessons learned" discussions into every project.
If your company is one that says, "Our employees are our greatest assets", now is the time to walk the talk. By providing ongoing coaching, you'll be managing performance every day. And most of all, your employees will feel like they are your greatest assets.
Lora J Adrianse is the owner of Essential Connections. She is a Coach, Consultant and Facilitator who specializes in the development managers and business owners. She recently left a long-term corporate career to focus on her passion for helping others bring out the best in themselves through the use of Emotional Intelligence. She can be reached through her website www.connectionscoach.com.