In the book, he talks about his daily practice for staying on the sunny side of life. I'm going to start this new year by implementing one of the four pillars of his practice which is trying to generate ten new ideas every day. I'll post some of them here as I get going.
Give your employees the truth about
In the movie “A Few Good Men,” Colonel Jessup (brilliantly played
by Jack Nicholson) strongly believes that the general public just can’t handle
the truth. Me? I’m more like defense attorney Lieutenant Kaffee.
I want the truth! …and so do your employees. They want the truth about
their performance in the workplace.
As managers we sometimes find it difficult to give employees the
candid feedback they want and deserve. It’s my position that employees do
want this valuable feedback. They want it constructively delivered and in
a timely manner from a leader who honestly has the employee’s development in
mind when they give it. Here are my top five tips for giving good, honest
It’s very helpful to hear performance coaching in context of an
example that is timely. In my career the most growth has come from times such
as this; where I got very specific situational feedback on things I did well
and how I could do better. Who doesn’t want to be better? While the
sting of any less-than-positive assessments can hurt a person’s ego, the reality
of the feedback will give them what they need to improve and puts them on track
to become the best that they can be.
In my experience this is the most common mistake. Leaders
seem to think that if they ignore the behavior or performance problems that
they will improve on their own. Or sometimes they think that employees
will somehow just get the hint, or that a coworker or someone will tell
them. Wrong! I’ve had the unfortunate task of having to tell 30
year company veterans that their performance needs improvement. It’s a
failing of previous management, not the employee that they are hearing the
truth for the first time after so many years. Often by that time it’s too
late for the employee to substantially change their behavior. Why do we
do this to people? Have courage, be honest, be professional, but tell the
This is manager behavior I see quite a bit, especially with newer
leaders. When you have a chance to give feedback, tell it to them
straight. If there’s room for
improvement speak plainly and frankly about what it is. Don’t minimize it. If there was something worthy of praising
make sure to be specific about that as well.
I think we miss opportunity to build trust when we try too hard to be
nice or not to play favorites. I’m not
advocating that we shouldn’t be considerate; don’t give improvement tips in
front of a crowd. At the same time, make
sure others hear your praise for those that deserve it.
This tip is really the mindset you should have as you provide any
employee feedback. The idea isn’t to catch someone doing something wrong
so that you can be specific; it’s about adopting the attitude of coach.
These are your star athletes of the workplace. Why wouldn’t you
want them to perform at their best? A coach finds a way to make good players
better, not by pointing out every little thing, or hundreds of things all at
once. They target the changes that will generate the most improvement in
their players. Think about the whole person as you give feedback.
Where do they most need to improve?
Watch for and encourage improvement
While employees want feedback, they also want to be recognized and
encouraged as they make honest attempts to change for the better.
Ignoring attempts to improve is worse than ignoring the changes that
needed to be made. Pay attention to your people as they work to
incorporate your coaching into their daily work. Notice their efforts and
compliment them. This will let them see that you didn’t want to just
complain about something they were doing, but really do have an interest in their
If you can incorporate these tips into your management style it
will pay dividends in their careers and in yours. Employees will trust
that you have their best interests in mind, and your team’s performance will
improve leading to better results for you.
I'm relaunching this blog as a place for me to express my thoughts on technology, strategy, and innovation. I will also talk about management and life in general from time to time. I hope that all who stop by find something valuable. If you came here expecting photography, you can see that now over on my flickr site. scottmartin.photography