Thursday, April 19, 2012

Listen to yourself - are you managing excellent performance?

Leaders are responsible for ensuring quality performance.  I was in a leadership meeting this week that went like this:

Leader 1: "George" just isn't getting it done."

Leader 2:  "I agree."

Leader 1: " I've tried to tell him.  He hasn't stepped up.  He's not making his calls, he's not following procedures, and he's not communicating."

Leader 2:   "I know - it's been like that for a while.  You know - he's never really filled out the reports the way I wanted...."

Leader 1:   "I know - I have been asking him for weeks to step it up."

Leader 2:  "I'm really disappointed in 'George'."

Me:  "No, no, no - we're in the wrong conversation." 

Leader: 1 & 2: Silent but with a questioning look my way.

Me:  "Have we accepted poor results for weeks?"

Leader 1:  "Yes - I guess so."

Me:  "Have you made the standards and expectations clear?"

Leader 1:  "I think so."

Me:  "Have you enforced the standards?  Have you demanded he do it right?  Have you managed him clearly and consistently?

Leader 1:  "No - not when you say it like that."

Me:  "That's a collective leadership failure.  We have to address small quality issues or they can drift into a pattern of poor performance.  If we set high standards but do not demand performance - we will not have high quality standards,"

Leader 2:  "But why won't people just do what we ask?"

Me:  "It doesn't matter - manager's are paid to ensure it's done right - to the plan - to the standard."

Silence

Leader 1:  "You're right; I own it.  I should have acted faster.  In fact (leader 2) told me I was coddling "George" too much weeks ago.  I should have acted then."

She was right; she should have acted faster.  Leaders will save themselves a great deal of time, energy, and precious resources if they deal with problems when they sense or see them.  Make management decisions that support your standards; don't wait.  The cost to you and your organization is greater than you think.

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