Performance Process or Performance Culture? It’s Time We Make the Change and Leadership Plays a Role

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Last time we talked about how professional development for leaders is pivotal to the success of an organization and its transition to a performance-based culture. We know that leaders have a huge impact on the culture of an organization, so here are a few skills that every leader should have.

Perfecting the Art of One-on-One Meetings

Conversations that happen between employees and their managers are incredibly important. There are a lot of theories and best practices out there that can provide guidance on how to conduct one-on-one’s. For instance, meetings should be 30 minutes in length and follow a structure of ‘employee talks,’ then ‘you talk,’ and then ‘we plan together.’  These meetings should be a top priority for all leaders and should never be cancelled – they can be rescheduled, but never cancel them out right.

What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

In a performance culture, there needs to be a higher level of comfort between leaders having career conversations with their employees.  Highly motivated and ambitious workers have certain expectations related to their ability to advance, so if their leader isn’t supportive of their career goals, they will go elsewhere for their development.  Career conversations should focus on what an employee wants to do in the next year or two, and the skills that person wants to develop or master within that time. The leader’s job is to help with that development.

Learning & Development

Leaders need to become much better at diagnosing the needs of their employees, recognizing skills and great performance. There is a breakdown that says 10 percent of what you learn, you learn formally through training.  The next 20 percent of learning happens through relationships and mentoring.  The bulk of learning (70 percent) happens through hands-on experience. Leaders in a performance-based culture need to understand that career development is not about sending someone off to take a course. It is about coaching, mentoring and providing employees with the opportunity to apply what they learn on the job. This might mean participating in shared projects or doing a stint on another team. Career development is a huge motivator for people and leaders need to understand their role in making that happen.

Recognition

People prefer to receive recognition individually for their contributions.  Some employees like open acknowledgement, while others are more private in the way they want to receive praise. For some, a dinner out with their spouse works great. For others, simply a kind word of thanks is all it takes. It is a leader’s job to know what motivates people and to tap into that.

So how do we create a community that ensures a consistent leadership culture across the organization?  How do you achieve a strong culture where employees across teams, offices, cities, and countries all have the same learning opportunities? Have the same types of conversations with their leaders, and receive recognition in a consistent way?

Sending all of your managers off to leadership school is not the answer.  If we rely only on formal training, we are giving them a fraction of the full learning opportunity.  What we can do is use technology to create a community of leaders, where a culture of leadership can be fostered.  This might include a resource center for leaders where they can access courses and training, as well as tips and tricks related to their day-to-day management efforts.  It should include discussion forums where leaders around the country or the globe can talk to each other, share their experiences and get advice. It should also leverage modern tools such as blogs and video, where leaders can reflect on their experiences, document and share lessons learned.

In this new performance-based culture we are creating, leadership plays a pivotal role. Leadership is not about what is convenient and easy.  It is a belief and a perpetual responsibility. Organizations and the economy is now talent dependent. The impact people have on business is greater than it has ever been before. Your employees are your differentiator and they deserve your time and investment.

In a training course I once attended, I learned that the Chief of Staff of the Whitehouse holds one-on-one bi-weekly meetings with every one of his staff members.  We can assume he’s a pretty busy guy.  So if he can find the time to invest in his people at his level, surely so can we?

If you’re looking for some additional ways to welcome your new hires? Download the new enterprise eBook for an in-depth look at how to create an engaging learning model for your organization.

Stay tuned for my next post “Avoiding the Peter Principle.We’ll be discussing the right way to promote high performers.

Additional resources

Dan Pink – The Puzzle of Motivation Talk Video TED.com

PWC  “How to Manage the Millennials – How can your HR strategy help you meet your talent needs