Managing up is easy when performance is good, but it gets a little more complicated when results are down. Here are some practical ways to show your boss that you’re on it while giving time and space to an employee who is having a hard time changing his or her performance.
How can I manage when the results go down? # Asking for a friend
This question came through our learning lab in one of our online leadership development programs.
What is the best way to “conduct” yourself when working through employee training and improvements?
The question brought up memories of one in particular An impatient boss Who wanted every performance issue fixed “yesterday” in the “easy way”.
I mean, “just fire the guy” and move on. This boss was not particularly close to the complexity of the job.
And yes, he had a hard time seeing the long-term potential in hard-working employees.
So, I learned the art of management when the results came down the hard way.
Why it’s hard
Training for continuous improvement can take a minute. Your employee needs time to try new approaches and learn what works best in different scenarios.
Excellent training requires real connection, vulnerability and trust. No one wants to feel like someone outside the room is following every conversation and following it.
And even when your struggling team member gets better, they’re probably still going to screw up every now and then, and strengthen their reputation as bad performers. It will be easy for the observer removed to conclude prematurely that your training is not working, and it is time to move on.
And of course, there is Murphy’s rule in the game… even if the same customer service representative you trained to have more empathy made significant improvements, the one time she will come to an audit with a customer will necessarily be when your boss passes by you.
You care about your hard worker. You care about your boss. And also, you care about the long-term performance of your team. It is difficult to balance these nuanced relationships as a person-centered leader. But it is possible.
4 steps to update your manager when dealing with performance issues
You need to give this struggling employee feedback, training and support while keeping your manager up to date on progress in a way that gives them confidence that you are doing the right thing for the employee and business.
Set clear expectations with your employee and your manager
Start with a common definition of success. Make sure the three of you define what a good performance looks like in the same way. Sure, start with metrics, like getting a quota or achieving a service level or productivity metrics. Also make sure that you are aligned according to the behaviors that will lead to success.
Focus on the game, not just the outcome.
2. Work with your struggling employee in a clear way to improve performance
If you need help with this, these articles are rich in practical tools.
How to provide more meaningful performance feedback
How to train employees for high performance when time is limited
Be sure to set schedules and check-in to measure progress.
Schedule the end
The next step to conduct when coaching a struggling employee is to share the high-level program with your manager and see if there is an understanding to make sure they fit your approach.
And here’s the part where you buy yourself the time to make an impact.
Schedule the end. Get some time in your manager’s calendar when you talk about the situation again. When your manager knows you have a solid plan and they know when they will get an update, they will most likely ask you about progress every time they run into you. You will feel less managed in the micro and have time to help your struggling cast member without having to share the play by game.
4. Give them opportunities to fix their brand
This is perhaps the most difficult part of the Histadrut with an employee who once had a hard time. Even if they have worked hard to change their performance and they are fulfilling their role, it is likely that both of you still have something to do.
It’s time to show your manager that they’ve really changed.
Marshall Goldsmith gives some good advice on this matter in our recent interview “Request a Friend” (I have attached a very short excerpt from this interview below … you can watch the rest of the program at this link.
“It is much easier to change behavior than to change the perceptions of others. It is difficult to change the perceptions of others because we all see each other in ways that conform to our previous stereotypes.”
An important part of your role in management is to help your manager see the change.
Management: What if the employee can not make it?
Of course, it is also possible that despite your efforts, performance does not reverse.
If you have followed this process, you have a good record, and you have updated your manager, building trust in all directions. It’s time to move on to the next step of the no – fault performance management process.
Sometimes releasing an employee is the most targeted action in person for all involved.
As a manager focused on a person who is doing well, you want to support your employees and help them grow and give your manager peace of mind so that they do not have to be overly involved.
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