Tag Archives: Performance improvement

Stand Back, I’m Flipping my Sign Here

Already, the first quarter is almost done.  You may be wondering where you stand. How you get out of the gate in the first quarter can define the rest of your year. You started with a plan, determined what activities were needed to hit your plan and scheduled them out. Of course you did all the items in your plan too. Right?

My bigger question to you is, “Were you just going through the motions, or doing the activities with purpose and a level of pride knowing each action was bringing you closer to achieving your plan?” As time and experience have told us, the more you put into things, the more you get out of them.

If you’ve begun to notice my style, I like to break things down into simple Giving your all at workstories that paint a clearer picture of the message I am trying to get across; so here goes. When you were driving down the road last, I’m sure at the stoplight your eyes were drawn to the “sign flippers” now posted at most busy corners.  If you haven’t seen them, then they are failing miserably because that is their job—to get your attention.

Personally, I’ve seen all kinds of sign flippers. The worst one was in a t-shirt and jeans sitting on the ground with his sign propped against his legs, smoking a cigarette talking on his phone with a look of total annoyance. My guess is that this guy was not happy with his job, and it showed in more ways than one. I’m pretty sure this was not what the manager was going for when they hired him to bring attention to their business.

Now there are some great sign flippers out there who bring a great deal of value to the locations they represent—you’re more likely to have seen these. They go the extra mile and have fun doing it. You can’t help but watch their antics and be entertained. They dance and jump about in pink gorilla outfits moving their sign every which way. They know their role, their goal, and they fully embrace it. In my opinion, life is incredibly boring and unfulfilling when you don’t. We spend too much of our precious time at our jobs not to make the most out of the experience. To be better than the rest, now that is fun.

What it comes down to is—there is nothing like knowing you are one of the best on the block. You dare all other sign flippers to stand next to you knowing the competition just can’t stand up to your commitment. It takes something more to achieve more. Instead of just planning and doing activities make sure you put more meaning behind what you do. And when you do, life is just plain better.

By Richard Goering, Executive Vice President, 3C Network, Guest Blogger

Do your Performance Measures Measure Up?

In many organizations, managers are either wrapping up or preparing for annual performance reviews with their employees.  Managers at employer-of-choice companies most likely have had performance conversations frequently, be they formal or informal in nature. Whatever performance support system a company has elected to implement, some conversational basics can make for increasingly more effective and engaging sessions.

  •  Remember this is a conversation.  Managers should spend as much time listening to the employee as they do speaking. If your employees aren’t used to contributing to the performance conversation, you can prompt them with questions like: What worked well? What obstacles did you encounter? Did you meet your performance goals? Do you have any development needs? What kind of career path do you have in mind?
  • Eliminate employee performance surprises.  Clear expectations should be provided annually through a tool such as a scorecard and managed on a regular basis depending on the metrics defined. Deficiencies should be identified and addressed as they arise.  Successes should be recognized and rewarded in a timely fashion as well.  Having good performance data makes this conversation easier.  If you don’t have good, measurable performance indicators, set some up so people can know whether they are on target or not.
  •  Don’t forget to focus on the future.  Past performance deserves review, but be sure you’re set up for future performance to ensure measurable success.  Have you established new performance goals that directly align with the company’s mission?  Have you reviewed existing goals to be sure they are SMART (Specific, Meaningful, Attainable, Realistic, Timely)?  Do you have and employ a system for measuring performance and providing regular actionable feedback?
  •  Make the evolution of your performance system standard practice. Is this the time to provide rewards? Does your organization connect performance reviews with salary increases?  Are there other ways to recognize strong performances?  Establish and communicate career path opportunities and develop succession plans. Consider upgrading job responsibilities, title changes, participation on committees, access to training or development activities or other low-cost rewards.  Consider whether you can find other opportunities to reward or recognize strong performance in addition to your formal review sessions.
  •  Verify engagement levels.  If your employee didn’t hold up their end of the performance conversation, is it because they have “checked out?”  What’s behind their lack of engagement?  When top performers stop performing, there is valuable data in there you should catch and act upon in case it could be a larger problem that may affect others. Ask whether the employee has adequate access to information or resources about their job or the company’s initiatives.  Ask if they get to do their best work every day and whether anything interferes with that effort. 
  •  Performance reviews are not necessarily a zero-sum game.  You aren’t measuring people against other team members, but against your performance targets or defined ranking system. Typically employees performance fits in a bell curve with 10 percent of people at each extreme (top performer to low or non-performers) and the remaining 80% falling in the vast average grouping. You can heighten overall company performance more rapidly by focusing your efforts on providing the 80% field with the appropriate, interconnected resources to become top performers.

Your people are one of your most valuable assets. The human factor plays an essential role in your company’s profitability. Managers cannot only make performance conversations more pleasant by keeping the above items in mind, but increase the effectiveness and improve the outcomes of those conversations as well.  Effective management of performance conversations will support performance improvement for employees.  The positive outcomes of these measures will reward your entire organization and build a strong performance-based culture.

Nancy Lane, Director of Human Resources, Red Book Solutions