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Tag Archives: Performance Review

How to effectively provide negative feedback to your employees? Part 1


FeedbackFirst of all, I would like to thank my readers for really liking my last blog series about ‘honest feedbacks’. I really appreciate your feedback, so please keep it coming. Secondly, many of you have asked me how to provide honest, but negative feedback, to your employees, and hence, I am writing this two-part series blog for answering some of your questions.

Refrain from personal attacks: While giving feedback to others, try to direct your feedback towards their behavior rather than towards that particular person. A common mistake lot of managers make is to criticize the person rather than their negative behavior. If you tell your assistant that she is a poor excuse for a secretary, then it is a personal attack rather than a constructive criticism. These kind of feedback can only make your employees more defensive towards you and your feedback. So, try to identify the problematic behavior and focus on what can be done to correct it in the future, instead of launching personal attacks towards your employees. For example: This is what you tell your secretary when she makes an accounting mistake … “Jackie, an accounting mistake like this one can cost way more than our weekly office budget. From now on, please check with me before finalizing any orders costing more than $100”.

Be descriptive: While providing feedback to your employees, don’t be evaluative or judgmental, instead be descriptive. Descriptive feedback is tactfully honest and objective, whereas evaluative feedback seems to be more judgmental and accusatory to the feedback receiver. Here is an example of an evaluative feedback: “Where is your sales report? You know it is due on my desk no later than 9:00 each morning. You’re obviously not reliable anymore.” Here is an example of a descriptive feedback for the same situation: “When you don’t turn your sales reports in on time, I’m unable to complete the departmental report on time. This makes both of us look bad. You’ve been late twice this month. Is there something I can do to help you get those reports in on time?” Like in this example, descriptive words are more likely to result in cooperation.

Keep it short: If you are providing constructive criticism to your employee, don’t have a marathon about it. Try to include only as much information as the person can handle at one time. Suppose during a performance appraisal, you give an employee a list of 20 items that need improvement. Even though you might feel better after fully expressing your feelings, your employee will only remember 2-3 major bullet items from that meeting and forget everything else. How can anyone improve on 20 things at the same time? Think about it, can you do that? What would have happened if your manager gave you similar feedback? Wouldn’t you require more time to analyze this much information at once? Thus, you should restrict yourself while giving negative feedback to your employees. Give only two or three suggestions that your employee can reasonably handle at a time.

These are some ideas through which you can effectively provide negative feedback to your employees. If you have any other ideas through which we can make this process easier, then please share your ideas with me through your comments here. Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

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5 ways to become the best manager for your employees


BestManagerIn my last blog post, I have talked about few earlier signs of your management failures. And hence, in this blog post, I will provide you with a formula to handle each issue separately, and how you can turn around these situations in your favor.

Learn from the exit interview: As I have mentioned in my last blog, if you are having a higher turnover rate in your team as compared to your organization/department, then you might want to analyze your leadership style. Try to get as much information as you can through the exit interview. If these exit interviews are taken by the HR Department, then work with your HR personnel to include your questions in the mix. Try to include questions, which can give you some inside scoop on your leadership style. For example: Few problematic communication practices, managerial feedback, etc. Depending on their inputs you should try to change your leadership style.

Learn from your 360 review: Often 360 degree multi-rater assessments or employee’s feedback surveys will provide you with the valuable input about your management style in general.  So, make sure that you take those survey results seriously, and take out some time to act on the improvement opportunities mentioned in the survey. Look for things like, your engagement rating with your employees, your general relationships with others, etc. At worst, it will provide you few pointers on where you are going wrong, and how to improve your management style.

Communicate effectively: As I have mentioned in my last blog, if you are having multiple employee’s disputes as compared to other teams, then you might not be a good manager. In order to improve your situation, you might want to increase your communication with your team members. Make sure that you clearly communicate your decisions to your team. Often times miscommunication can generate a sense of inequity or unfairness about these decisions, leading to disputes that tend to end up in the lap of Human Resources departments because they relate to the application of written company policies or procedures. Thus, you should try to communicate with each team member at least once a day. Make it a practice. Also, you should schedule at least one-on-one during a month, where you just talk about your employee’s personal growth and any concerns that he/she might have. This approach will help you to communicate with your team effectively.

Frequent performance reviews: Good manager will always schedule frequent one-on-one with their employees. As a manager, you should always provide your feedback to your employees on an ongoing basis, throughout the year or throughout the period for which the review is being conducted. So, when it’s the time of doing the performance review, its mere a documentation of what you have been talking about during the entire year. If you follow this approach, then you can at least reduce the amount of conflicts between you and your employees during the performance review period.

Lead by example: Let’s assume that you might be one of those bad managers and you might have developed a bad reputation for territoriality, or being “difficult to work with”. Even then, it is never too late to change. Though it might take some time to change other’s perception of you, you can do that. Just try to hold yourself to higher standards. When someone is completely bypassing you in the decision making process, try to talk with that person and identify their issues. It might take some communication and extra efforts in resolving these issues, but you can lead by example. You can show your team members and others in the organization on how you follow your company’s processes, and why your inputs are valuable in the decision making process. If you keep on following this practice, I am sure that you can regain their trust, and improve the work throughput.

I hope, my blog has helped you in seeing some of the general shortcomings of a manager, and helped you become the best manager for your employees. Please share your comments here, if you agree/disagree with my point of view.

Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

 
 

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How to reinforce performance expectations with your team?


Performance ExpectationAfter a recent company reorganization, which resulted in the team losing a few veteran employees and acquiring few new employees, the team started missing important deadlines, and morale had declined. Seeing that situation, the manager of that team (one of my good friend, let’s call him Bob) came to me for some advice. On asking specifics about the situation, Bob told me that his veteran team members have complained to him about the new team members slacking in their work. There could have been various reasons for this situation such as….lack of training, lack of established goals, strained team dynamics, etc. After doing further research, I figured out that the problem was in the fundamentals of how that team was operating. The team had very precise performance standards, but they were poorly reinforced after the reorganization of the company. Thus, in this blog I would like to share my experience on how I fixed that issue, and hence, giving you some insights on how you can reinforce your performance expectations with your team.

Go back to basics: In my example above, Bob had all the information that he needed, but he never gave attention to those. I can understand that. Sometimes, we are so much occupied in the details of the task at hand that we lose the big picture. Thus, I would recommend you to revisit your team’s mission before you take any action. Review any reliable documentation that you have which can confirm the team’s directives. If that document is not clearly stated, then please update that document to make sure that you are clear about what your team must accomplish before you meet with them in-person. It wouldn’t hurt to consult with your manager regarding these priorities, so that you have another person in authority who can confirm your redefined mission, and make sure that you are headed in the right direction. 

Meet with your team: Once you have ironed out your team’s mission, goals and specific objectives, now it’s the time to meet with your team. But yeah! DON’T conduct a one-way meeting with your PowerPoint slides. Consider asking the team to give you their ideas about the team’s goals, as it stands right now. In this way, you will be able to understand their point of view, and maybe, find out the reason for team’s deteriorating performance. After the team has shared their understanding of your team’s mission and goals, present them with your version of the goals in a document that everyone can view simultaneously, such as a slide presentation or a paper handout. Compare the team’s version of the goals with your version, and point out any gaps between the two versions. If the team’s version of these goals is reasonably close to your version, consider complimenting them. If they have added a goal or task that you think should be included, but was missing from your version, praise them. While closing, make sure that you reiterate individual team member’s roles and responsibilities, and get their agreement. 

Re-establish your goals: Just to make sure that everyone has the same understanding of all the goals and objectives of the team, you need to send a follow-up e-mail after the meeting. Make sure to summarize your meeting with the mission, goals, accomplishments, and responsibilities that the team is expected to deliver. If possible, deliver your message, or messages, in multiple formats, so that everyone receives the content, even if multiple message modes cause some redundancy. Use whatever mode of communication you know will be received by individual team members. Meet with them in person, send them email messages, or place paper documents in their mail boxes. Don’t forget to obtain feedback from individual team members, so that you can verify that everyone on your team has received your message and understands the team’s mission.

Follow-up with everyone: Even after re-establishing your goals, you can’t be sure that all of your team members will be committed to helping the team meet goals and produce the required results. Thus, I would recommend you to meet with team members one-on-one and identify whether they are committed to helping the team meet its goals. During the meeting, you should ask for direct feedback about each team member’s level of commitment. I know, it would sound silly, but I would recommend you to observe the body language and emotional tone of each team members. Try to find out, if he/she seem sincere and enthusiastic about the prospect of helping the team move forward. Ask each team member about their role in helping the team meet its goals, and ask them how they see themselves as adequately filling that role. Consider keeping notes about your findings. If you are uncomfortable taking notes during the one-on-one meetings, then jot down a few notes after each meeting, so that you are clear about where each team member stands, and then, you can take any corrective actions, if necessary.

Have you ever been in a situation like Bob? If so, what have you done to resolve it?

Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

 
 

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Why shouldn’t you let your poor performer slide?


Oftentimes, as a manager we believe that as long as project goals are being met, we can let poor performers slide. Handling poor performers can not only consumes lot of time; but if handled incorrectly, it can create a hostile work environment for your other employees. After all, no manager is looking forward to have a difficult conversation with their employees, especially in a crunch time. But if you keep ignoring these poor performers then it can create a disastrous situation for your team. You might encounter following consequences, if you refuse to deal with your poor performers.

Decline in your team’s productivity: Let’s say, Joe is your go-to guy, and a good performer. Let’s say, Steve is your poor performer in the team. Joe is monitoring Steve’s performance from last 2 months, and he sees that even if Steve’s performance is bad from last 2 months, their manager is not taking any action to correct his behavior. So, now Joe may begin to wonder what the point is of his extra efforts and working overtime. Due to the multiplicity effect of this behavior, you will have a team of 60% poor performers within few months.

High turnover rate: When your poor performers are not working, your good employees are working twice as hard as usual to keep projects on track or to correct the mistakes of the incompetent employee. If your poor performer doesn’t face any consequences from you, your good employees can lead to resentment, unhappiness, and, eventually, leave your team to seek employment elsewhere.

Creation of rumor mills: If your go-to guy (Joe) keeps on seeing that the incompetent employee is getting away with his poor performance for months, then he might think that your poor performer (Steve) might have connections with upper management. It’s human nature. When we see any wrong action from someone without any consequences, we try to think up number of reasons for justifying that behavior. In my example, some of the rumors that can stat are….What does so-and-so have on the manager? Why is everyone so afraid to reprimand so-and-so? Etc.

Though it is very difficult and unpopular to deal with your poor performers, it is your utmost responsibility, as a manager, to address these performance issues as soon as they are noticed. This practice will help you to avoid problems in the future and create a healthy work environment for your team. I hope, this blog came to you as an eye opener, so that you can handle your poor performers in the future. Let me know, if you know of any other issues that your poor performer might create. Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on October 15, 2012 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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How to deal with a poor performer in your team?


Have you ever encountered a situation where you had to have a difficult conversation with your employees? Or have you ever put any employee on a Performance Improvement plan? It is very unfortunate that some of the Managers try to avoid those situations. Instead of having appropriate conversation with their employees, they try to avoid those situations. Well, I am not a master of these conversations by any means, but I have few tips through which you can handle this situation well.

Verbal discussion: Let say, you have a poor performer in your team. And despite of your numerous efforts to improve his performance, he didn’t improve. In this situation, I would advise you to have a personal discussion with him, if you haven’t done that already. This one-on-one discussion will give you an opportunity to explain your concern about his performance, while it will give him an opportunity to explain his side of the story. The purpose of this meeting should be to let him know about your concerns, so that he can correct those behaviors.

Document your concerns: After you had your verbal discussion, you should always make sure to document those communications via e-mails or memos. This will help you not only in any legal proceedings that might arise in the future but it will also help you to reiterate your point. Your e-mail should contain summary of your discussion reinforcing your message and the place where this discussion took place. It’s a good idea to let the employee know that they will be receiving a follow up email after the meeting. Explain that it is to ensure each party is on the same page regarding discussion points. This can circumvent the perception that you are using the email for “tracking” purposes only.

Follow-up discussion: You should never have a discussion with someone, and then not follow up with that. I would advise you to schedule a follow-up meeting regarding your verbal discussion as soon as you send the follow-up e-mail. Of course this meeting might not happen within 1-2 months, but it’s always a good practice to keep a checkpoint on these kind of discussions to make sure that you don’t forget it. And yeah! Make sure to have a specific agenda for this meeting. For example: specific projects that he might be working on, his performance improvement within last month, action plan to success, time frame for improvement, etc. Don’t forget to include all the consequences clearly and visibly in this meeting request. This will ensure that your employee is aware of all the consequences before you decide to take any action.

I hope these tips will help to become a better manager and effectively deal with your poor performers. Let me know, if you have any other ideas through which you can effectively deal with your poor performing employee. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2012 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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How to demonstrate your value to your new Manager?


Have you ever felt that your Manager doesn’t know your value in the team? Have you ever been in a situation, where you think that you are exceeding your goals, while your performance review says something else? If you ask me, these are very common situations in professional world. I only manage 10-12 people at this time, but it becomes harder to provide personal attention to everyone in the team. So, imagine if you were to manager more than 20 people. It becomes next to impossible to provide personal attention to everyone.

I guess, my colleague (let’s call her Mrs. X) encountered a similar situation. Mrs. X came to me the other day, and told me that her new manager rated her performance really badly. I saw her past performance reviews, and they were all saying that she was above average employee in all of them. So, what happened so suddenly? Well, in her case…..she got a new Manager just few months back. And he might not have knew her potential yet.

If you were Mrs. X, what would you have done? Before I hear your answers, I would like to share my advice that I have given to her.

Meet with your Manager: If I were Mrs. X, I would have met with my Manager immediately and I would have discussed my performance review with him directly. If possible, ask your Manager if your Ex-Manager can be in this meeting too. If he allows your Ex-Manager to be in the meeting, then you can strengthen your case by getting his feedback to make your case even stronger. Make sure to give some background to your Ex-Manager before he comes to this meeting, so that he can come prepared.

Prepare your case before the meeting: Please don’t show up in that meeting without any preparation. This will look really bad on your side. So, please do a favor to yourself and prepare your case.

  • Make a list of all the accomplishments that you have done this year.
  • Highlight some of the biggest achievements that you have accomplished during the year.
  • Make sure to take your older performance reviews from HR and bring it to the meeting.
  • Jot down few points explaining why you think that you are above average employee.

Suggest some possible solutions: You can’t be right all the time. Let’s say, there is a huge conflict between your perception and his perception of your work. In this situation, rather than getting mad at your Boss, you should try to suggest some solutions. This will demonstrate to your Manager that he can trust you on taking initiative and understanding his point of view. You can start your conversation by saying “What I can do is…….we can work together to create some SMART goals for me, and let’s monitor my performance through that. In that way, we will both have shared accountability, and I will have some measurable outcome against which I can measure my performance. Also, we can arrange one-on-one periodically to go over my performance, so that we can track my progress in a better way.”

I hope these tips will help you to prove yourself in front of your new Manager. Let me know, if you have any other ideas through which you can demonstrate your value to your new Manager. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on January 16, 2012 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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