Most of my clients struggle with some aspect of managing their employees . Two common complaints are, “Most of my employees under-perform” and “I’ve tried every communication strategy in the book, but none of them work.” We don’t have to employ the Steve Jobs People Management Strategy to succeed. In most cases, we don’t want to anyway.
It may not feel like it, but we are both the problem and the fix in most people management situations. Although we feel intimidated and often powerless when we interact with our employees, we have a fair amount of control. We need to learn and practice three simple management techniques.
Set Expectations: We have to know what we want and expect from others to succeed and then communicate consistently/regularly. If we expect others to understand our version of “common sense”, we will fail. No one outside of our parents, spouses and children knows what we are thinking or want. In the case of employees, if we tell them what we want and when we plan to touch bases, we have set the correct stage for success. Being too busy (or uncomfortable) to follow up is often a reason we managers lose our credibility and ability to impact an employees performance.
Check in and Coach: Managing by facial expression, grunts, shrugs, and anger outbursts does not work. When we set a clear expectation, we provide a path to success for the right employee. This allows the person we are managing to do complete a task/project and demonstrate results. Micro managing only makes those around us nervous. Micro-management may make us feel like we are in control, but micro-management is also the number one reason employees leave a job. If we check in with employees and they haven’t performed what we expect, we can reset expectations and coach them on what is required to succeed. Coaching an employee involves asking clarifying questions about what went well and what was challenging. The difference between coaching and directive management is that if coached, an willingly participates in the path to a solution.
Hire Slowly, Fire Quickly: An old adage that most of us ignore as managers. My clients usually hire quickly and fire slowly. As a result, they lose money and erode their own confidence to manage. Once we hire an employee (and I would suggest using a predictive job matching tool like Affintus), we must give an employee guidance so they know how to succeed: Create a job description, set early expectations and let an employee know where they stand (regularly). If the employee receives proper expectations, coaching and feedback, employee tenure and satisfaction increases. It’s also easier to help a poor fitting employee find another position if they understand how they are performing. A Google search will show how much has been written about the Hire Slowly, Fire Quickly concept.
Managing people is not difficult, but it does take time and a methodical process. Most of us managers aren’t willing to put the effort into effective management. That’s when we lose control of our employees’ and their performance.