Post 1 of 3: As new manager to three supervisors, James was surprised at the very diverse processes they seemed to use to manage the same type of work groups. To determine how the differences impacted performance, he made a plan to gather more information and employee perspective.
- He personally emailed each employee and asked them to reply with no more than two things they appreciated most about their supervisor.
- He held focus groups with a percentage of the lowest performers from each team, and listened for extreme responses about how they felt about their work.
- He listened for the same kind of messages in focus groups held with a percentage of highest performers on each team.
- He also asked each of his three supervisors (Sean, Petra and Shante) to describe for him the communication and reporting practices they had each created to stay aware of their team’s performance needs.
Representative comments to James’ email question:
- From Sean’s team: “He’s nice.” “He lets me know what I’m doing well.”
- From Petra’s team: “I like that she stays in her office and out of my way.” * Received very few responses….
- From Shante’s team: “She makes sure I understand when I ask questions.” “She asks me what I want to accomplish and then expects me to try.”
Thoughts and comments from lowest performers:
- From Sean’s team: “Sean is so patient when we mess up.” Several mentioned having a fun team.
- From Petra’s team: “Petra really takes things seriously.” None of them could share the company’s key priorities.
- From Shante’s team: “Shante liked my game plan!” Got unsolicited ideas on the company’s focus on customer needs.
Extreme responses from highest performers:
- From Sean’s team: “Being the team hero gets old when the low performers aren’t held accountable to try.”
- From Petra’s team: “So I don’t get why we can’t get better shifts or perks if we’re performing so well.”
- From Shante’s team: “My confidence has really grown since I’ve started working my career plan.”
REALITY: Leaders that BOTH believe employees are willing to try AND use statistics reflecting employee competence are more likely to motivate improved performance. Believing in others is not often enough to motivate them to do their best. Performance statistics alone do not usually motivate change.
In Next PEPPERBOX Blog: Find out what kind of results these three teams produce and how their leaders communicate and inspire productivity.
[The 3 blogs in this series were posted on 7/31, 8/4 and 8/7/2015.]