Good managers know that an important part of their job is to provide performance coaching and feedback for their employees, but the really good managers know that they should do a self-assessment just as often to be sure they are keeping themselves in top performance shape.
- Be clear/focused on your key strategies and activities. It’s easy to get distracted by day-to-day concerns or spend time responding to the “squeaky wheel,” but lots of research says that companies and managers lose value when they lose focus on or fail to recalibrate their activities against their strategic plan.
- Take risks, try new things, or try old things in new ways. Innovation and learning requires you to break out of your old way of thinking or doing. Staying in the comfort zone of the things you’ve always done may be safe, but it can also be boring and perpetuate the status quo. T.C. North, in his article “traits,” highlights willingness to fail as the top differentiator for high performing individuals and organizations, and the May 2011 issue of The Manager’s Minute by National Seminars listed failure to take risks as one of the seven barriers to employee productivity.
- Be accountable for wins or misses. Celebrate and learn from them. There may be a time and place for the excuses and investigations, but don’t let those get in the way of accepting responsibility for successes or failures. Where appropriate, celebrate wins and thank all contributors. If you missed a target, evaluate what you learned from the experience and determine whether you should take another shot or assign another resource.
- Leverage existing resources or colleagues so you can focus on key activities. It’s tempting to do things yourself if you are good at them or if you enjoy them, but if those activities aren’t part of your key strategies or can be done by someone else, you’re not making good choices about resource allocation. You’re not in top performance shape if you don’t develop the team around you to carry some of the weight. Although I am not a devotee of Angry Birds, I got a kick out of the lesson presented by the recent blog “How Angry Birds made me a better manager.”
- Stay away from time sinks, office gossip or other activities that don’t match your company’s values. Keep an eye on the time you spend on activities that don’t improve your results or provide other value. Everyone needs a break from time to time, but top performers manage those breaks as effectively as they manage their other activities. Keep yourself at a distance from any actions that don’t promote the company values – they can’t be good uses of your time and won’t increase your value to the organization
- Get a coach and solicit feedback. You may be self-aware and realistic about your skills and habits, but it’s always good to have a motivator or another perspective. Coaches can provide recognition and support as well as reality checks or challenges.
Top performers have to keep themselves in shape to achieve positive results. Make these steps part of your business work-out plan.
Nancy Lane, Director of Human Resources, Red Book Solutions