Often we hear complaints about employee performance.  A manager can go on and on about their staff’s inability to get things done.  Pointing the finger at the employee’s lack luster performance. However, one of the key characteristics of leadership is the ability to get results through others.  Let’s look at 4 things a leader can do to positively impact employee performance.

Training:  Seems obvious.  We would expect that proper training is provided when new things are introduced to our employees.  However, with tight budgets, reduced staff, and time constraints, training is skimped and sometimes eliminated.  Here’s a prime example where lack of training was the cause for poor performance….

A manager in a rental car company was concerned about whether, Bob, a new hire was the right fit for the job.  Although Bob seemed to do well at first, things started to slip when he was moved to the night shift.  Bob was not responding to customer feedback reports that came in to the rental location.

The manager hadn’t seen Bob since he moved to the night shift. After a number of emails the manager finally decided to call Bob right as he finished his 11 PM to 7 AM shift.  Needless to say the manaEmployee Productivityger started the conversation a bit heated.  He was aggravated that Bob didn’t respond to his emails, and was annoyed that he had to start his day at 7 am.

Bob was taken by surprise!  First, since Bob was trained by the day shift, he never learned about the customer feedback paperwork.  It was only the night shift’s responsibility.   Since he was trained by the day shift, Bob didn’t know the first thing about it!

The manager still was not satisfied because he couldn’t understand why Bob ignored his emails until he learned that Bob never knew he had a company email account!  Lack of proper training led to a big gap in performance.  Once Bob was trained, he spent the next few weeks dealing with the back log and maintained it going forward.  Training was the missing element in this employee’s performance!

Support:   Good leadership can foster desirable behavior.  Staff will do whatever it takes to get things done when they are working for someone they believe in.  It’s truly disappointing when I hear managers rant and rave to others about one of their employees.  For some reason these managers don’t get that it is their responsibility to support the employee and if the employee’s performance is not up to par, this reflects on the manager’s ability to be an effective leader.

Cindy, a finance executive hired Ana, a financial analyst for her team.  After a few weeks, Cindy did nothing but complain about Ana.  Cindy would talk about how slow Ana was, and that she lacked initiative.  Cindy even slammed how Ana dressed.  Cindy didn’t even try to be discreet.  Cindy’s manager suggested she be more supportive of Ana, but that didn’t stop Cindy.

Finally Ana requested a transfer.  She couldn’t take the lack of support.  Within the first month of Ana working in her new position Ana was performing well.  Ana felt comfortable asking questions of her new manager and felt more confident taking initiative.  After Ana’s transfer, where do you think the finger was being pointed?

Feedback: Giving employee feedback is often overlooked by managers.  Managers scrimp on taking the time to let employees know when they are doing a good job.  Many managers think a good job is part of the job, therefore, positive feedback is not needed.  However, when positive feedback is not given, employees are left to feel that they only get spoken to when something is wrong.  This causes employees to avoid managers for fear they may get criticized.

I was visiting a friend in the hospital in Miami and stopped in to get a café con leche.  For some reason café con leche always tastes better in Miami.  I ordered decaf, with sugar substitute. The young man making the café asked if I wanted Equal.  I said sure, but then he asked if I preferred Splenda.  “Yes.  I do.”  While he was making it, I mentioned that I really like raw sugar.  He stopped and looked into a few cabinets and then pulled out raw sugar and asked did I want 1 or 2 teaspoons!

I couldn’t help but acknowledge his effort.  He made sure I got what I wanted.  I complemented his efforts. He shared that he just had his review the prior week.  He reflected how his manager told him that he was performing his basic duties very well.  No complaints.  However, she coached him on ways to excel.  One of the things was to get to know the customer.  Make sure you are helping the customer get what they really want.  It was clear that he took the coaching and put the coaching into action!

Role Model:   Mangers have standards they want their employees to meet.  They expect employees to arrive on time, do their work, meet deadlines and advise when they can’t, and be a team player. These are reasonable standards to expect of everyone.  However, in conducting leadership training, managers ask for tips to instill these standards into their teams.

Of course manager training includes a wide range of competencies.  Without a doubt, competencies are important to being an effective manager.  But what managers overlook is how their own behavior impacts their staff.

Insuring to you hold yourself to equal or higher standards than you expect from your team makes a difference. Some managers feel they have earned the right of passage and are exempt from these standards.  Their rationale could be, “I put in long hours,”, or “There so many demands placed on me.”  Rest assured. Employees look at the leader’s behaviors to gauge what behaviors are acceptable and unacceptable.

Where is the Finger Pointed Now?  Understandably as a leader, you strive to do your best.  Sometimes, we lose sight of our own performance because we are focused on getting the results from our team.  If you are not satisfied with the performance of someone on your team take a look at the 4 areas above to see if there are actions that you can take.  You may be pleasantly surprised with the results.