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Category Archives: People Alchemy

How to correct poor performance in the workplace

If a member of your team is genuinely performing poorly in the workplace, then you need to act now. Delay will only make matters worse.

First, look back at the objectives that you set for the person:

  • Were they realistic?
  • Were they achievable?
  • Was the time frame reasonable, given the rest of their workload?
  • Have other priorities taken precedence?
  • Was the objective clear enough?

Second, consider the person:

  • Do they understand the objectives and know what they should be doing?
  • Do they believe and want to do the job?
  • Do they think they have a better way of doing the job?
  • What do they think they will get if they do the job?
  • Does the job overstretch them and send them into panic?
  • Do they think that something else is more important?
  • Are they getting enough feedback?
  • Do they realise that they are underperforming?
  • Are they under stress from factors outside work?

Third, consider the environment:

  • Do they have the tools to do the job?
  • Do the systems and processes allow them to do the job?
  • Do they have the assistance they need?
  • Are other tasks getting priority?
  • What other external things influence their performance?

Remember though, this is only your point of view and the person who is not meeting their targets may not agree with your assessment. Really try to empathise with them and you will better understand why they are underperforming.

It’s also important to be emotionally detached and not get angry about their performance, as this won’t solve anything.

The next stage is to discuss with the underachiever everything we have looked at so far and get their perspective on things. Ensure that they are able to be open and honest with you, even if you get feedback that you don’t like about your own part in the situation. 

Assist the person see the effects of their behaviour from other people’s perspectives, including your own and anyone else who is immediately affected. The reasons for the poor performance will become apparent, and then it is a matter of addressing them.

If you identify that the poor performance is due to lack of knowledge, training can rectify this. There may be a company programme that would be suitable, or it might just be a simple case of the person working with another, more experienced member of staff, shadowing what they do for a while.

If the objectives were not clear to the person, you need to re-set them.

If the person is genuinely unaware that their performance is poor, and yet others think it is, you might consider a 360-degree process, which will ensure they get the broad-based feedback they need.

Note that if whatever it is that is affecting performance is external to the work environment, you may recommend counselling or perhaps the HR department may be able to help.

Whatever you decide to do, you need to create and agree a clear action plan with the person. This should include specific steps and checkpoints along the way to an agreed target and it’s a very good idea to document the plan and even get the person to sign a copy so it has an air of importance to them.

The action plan would also include features to mitigate the risk of a repeat of the poor performance, despite your best efforts. To this end, you need to consider what sort of monitoring needs to be in place, and also what contingency plans.

Post courtesy of People Alchemy – for access to the Alchemy for Managers online resource visit http://www.peoplealchemy.co.uk/catalyst

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How to overcome procrastination

Most people are guilty of procrastination at work for one of a variety of reasons:

  • The task is difficult or unpleasant so you either don’t want to or don’t know how to do it
  • The task is a small one, it won’t take long and can wait until later
  • The task is huge, it’s difficult to know where to begin
  • The task is low priority, you will do it when you’ve finished more urgent things
  • If you delay the task, it might not need doing at all
  • You don’t want to run out of work; you might look expendable.
  • You do your best work under pressure so let’s wait for the task to become a more urgent matter

To deal with procrastination, focus on the result, not on the process. Think about how satisfying it will be to get that monkey off your back and do this any time you start to feel unmotivated or negative about the task.

If you are tempted to leave the task thinking if you ignore it for long enough it will go away then you are taking a risk. It could suddenly become something that needs top priority and you end up having to start from scratch to get it done quickly – meaning the quality suffers. 

Try the following recommended techniques for overcoming procrastination:

  • Tackle the job you least want to do first thing when you get to work. You will experience a great sense of achievement and the day can only get better after that.
  • If you’re not sure how to do the task, analyse exactly what information you need and where to get it. Seek help now rather than on deadline day when no one is around.
  • The task may be simple but sometimes the unexpected happens and you have no contingency time left. Schedule a start time for the task on your ‘to do’ list and get it done.
  • Break down large tasks into manageable chunks; scheduling each with both a start time and finish time, and tick them off on completion.
  • You may believe you do your best work under pressure, but this attitude can convey an arrogant disregard for others whose input or participation is needed. Set a new earlier, deadline to allow for any unavoidable delays.
  • Promise yourself a reward on completion of the task. This works well if you are a ‘towards’ person – someone who is motivated by moving towards the attainment of targets and goals. This is also known as a pleasure motivator.
  • You may, however, be an ‘away from’ person, in which case, the painful consequences of not completing the task may be so dire that they give you a real kick-start to get it done. To activate this kind of motivator, imagine the worst consequences of not doing the task, and then multiply the seriousness of these consequences 100-fold. Not surprisingly, this is known as a pain motivator.
  • Finally, you could set yourself a challenge. Decide how long you are prepared to work on this task for and then use a digital timer to count down the minutes until it alerts you with a ‘ping’ that your allocated time is up. This works particularly well with mundane tasks such as filing or a housekeeping activity on your PC. You will find yourself competing against the clock to see how much you can achieve before the time goes.

There is an unwritten law around the concept that work expands to fill the time available. However, if you do complete all your workload, this leaves you time to be proactive and seek new opportunities that could enhance your career and professional standing.

Post courtesy of People Alchemy – for access to the Alchemy for Managers online resource visit http://www.peoplealchemy.co.uk/catalyst

 

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Employee issues – capability and conduct

Capability and conduct should be treated separately and it’s important to recognise the difference between warning someone for a capability matter or their conduct. Some organisations have separate disciplinary procedures for dealing with capability and conduct.

Capability

Dismissal on grounds of capability could be for one of three reasons:

  1. Lack of or loss of an essential qualification to do the job
  2. Lack of ability or skill – this can be repeated minor incompetence or one serious act of incompetence (poor performance)
  3. Lack of capability because of ill health

Qualification

If an employee loses or fails to achieve a qualification necessary to do his job, he may be dismissed on grounds of capability. However, other options should be explored if, for example, an employee whose job it is to travel to clients loses his driver’s licence for a year. Can they work from home or office? Can they use public transport? Can he do another job in the business while his licence is withheld?

Poor Work Performance

It’s the manager’s job to show that poor performance is the reason for the dismissal and that you reasonably believe your employee is not capable of working to the required standard. Rather than dismiss for a minor incompetence as a first offence, it should be something really serious like a life-threatening action or omission.

You must help the employee by doing everything reasonable to help them meet the required standard of performance by using coaching and retraining and giving a reasonable amount of time to improve. You must warn the employee before dismissal of the consequences of failure to improve.

Ill Health

It is not unfair to dismiss an employee who is no longer capable of working because they are too unwell to do so. In cases of long-term ill health, you should concentrate on investigating the medical facts and consulting with the affected employee about the available options.

A person may be disabled if he has a physical or mental impairment which is substantial and exercises a long-term adverse effect on his ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

You must consider all the other options apart from dismissal. It may be possible to find an alternative job or change the job content to accommodate the employee’s changed requirements.

As an employer, you have to be seen to be considering all the options properly and going through a fair procedure to avoid an unfair dismissal claim, even if the end result would have been the same anyway, fair procedure or no fair procedure.

Conduct

Dismissal for a reason relating to the conduct of an employee will be fair, provided the procedure is properly followed. Examples of misconduct:

  • Poor timekeeping
  • Poor attendance

Gross misconduct is a very serious breach of conduct by the employee. It may be an act or an omission, but it is tantamount to a fundamental breach of contract by the employee. Examples of gross misconduct:

  • Theft
  • Fighting, abusive or intimidating behaviour
  • Consumption of alcohol while on duty

Your procedure must list the offences you consider to be gross misconduct in your organisation.

Post courtesy of People Alchemy – for access to the Alchemy for Managers online resource visit http://www.peoplealchemy.co.uk/catalyst

 

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Performance management. What are the key skills?

Managing a person’s performance requires a wide range of skills, from the inter-personal through to process skills. The key ones are as follows:

Goal setting

Without setting a goal, you cannot manage a performance since nobody has a yardstick with which to measure achievements. No measurement, no management.

Coaching

Coaching is an essential part of managing staff performance so individuals can learn how things could have been achieved more efficiently. To improve performance, it is helpful to coach them through using questions such as:

  • How do you think you could have done that differently, for a better outcome?

Or

  • Do you think ‘Z’ approach would have been more effective?

This allows staff to evaluate their own performance and helps them consider other possible approaches for next time.

Mentoring

A mentor’s role is that of someone who has ‘done it before’ so they use their own personal experience to meet the same objectives. This is frequently called mentoring, as opposed to coaching.

Delegation

This can be a very useful way to improve staff performance. Even if the delegated work isn’t carried out perfectly, with the right feedback and coaching it can be extremely effective management tool. 

Empowerment

This is used to drive an individual’s performance to new highs because people often respond to the feeling of empowerment to complete a task by performing well, as long as there’s an appropriate level of coaching and feedback.

Feedback

If a person is doing well at a particular task, or just in general, tell them and they are more likely to continue performing to that standard. Positive feedback makes people feel good, giving them a sense of achievement and motivating them to continue working hard.

On the flip side, if a person is performing ineffectively and they don’t know why, won’t improve. Constructive feedback enables individuals to address any problems or challenges and become more effective.

Listening and questioning

When you are listening to someone, focus on them and absorb what they say. Get underneath their skin and understand their perspective.

Asking relevant, probing, open questions allowing for further discussion to get to the core of any problems. This focuses on addressing the causes of issues, rather than unmet objectives.

People will not always tell you the real reasons for issues. For example, they may feel they should have the skills to do their job, but don’t really understand what they should be doing.

Time management 

A person who isn’t managing their time effectively, and therefore not meeting their objectives, may need help to understand how they can manage their time better. You can help your employees by assisting them with things like task prioritisation.

Regarding your own time management, you may need to seek clarification from your manager to ensure priorities have not changed and that you are performing effectively.

Motivation

Motivation is often used to explain poor performance and while there are often many factors, motivation is clearly a major factor in levels of performance. As a manager, you need to know what motivation is and how to encourage it in your people.

Assertiveness

Despite their senior position, many managers are unable to be genuinely assertive. They are either unable to ask for what they want without trampling over the rights of their people or to set firm boundaries and expectations.

360 degree appraisals

This is a useful assessment if an individual is unaware of their performance level or if it differs greatly from how others see it. It can also help when the individual is not receptive to constructive feedback.

It combats this lack of awareness and thus raises the individual’s performance because the feedback is usually supplied anonymously so it’s harder for the individual to dispute the findings.

Post courtesy of People Alchemy – for access to the Alchemy for Managers online resource visit http://www.peoplealchemy.co.uk/catalyst

 

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Feedback or criticism?

One source of feedback that we all use, when available, is other people. We notice how other people react to what we are doing. Their reaction might be positive, negative, planned or spontaneous.

Whatever their response, or lack of it, we will draw conclusions about what that response means. We are then likely to modify our behaviour based on those conclusions, especially if we consider the other person credible. Feedback drives us to change.

We modify our behaviour based on the conclusions we draw about someone else’s behaviour. How do we know our conclusions are correct? How do we know for sure that their behaviour was in response to ours?

Maybe that smile was a sign of approval for our actions, or maybe our actions just reminded them of something funny, or maybe they were daydreaming about a joke from the pub last night and didn’t even notice what we were doing.

Unintentional

Most feedback we get from other people is unintentional: that is, they don’t have a planned outcome in mind. They just react, and we then react. It is an informal process, but nonetheless very powerful.

As a manager, you need to be conscious of this power, and to be aware of what your body language and behaviour might be saying to people, because they will use it as feedback. To improve your informal feedback to others, you should be consistent in your approach and behaviour. 

Intentional

A small proportion of the feedback we receive from other people is given by them on purpose. And this kind of personal feedback can be incredibly useful.

In an ideal world, the other person gives us valid and useful information about what we are doing with our best interests in mind. In a less-than-ideal world, we sometimes get criticism.

Criticism

We all know about criticism and the damage it can do to us – to our confidence and self esteem. But what is criticism and how is it different to feedback?

The simplest way to tell the difference is to consider whom the comments will benefit. Are they for the benefit of the giver or the receiver?

Feedback is for the benefit of the receiver. Its purpose is to help them grow and develop, and reinforce positive behaviour or actions.

On the other hand, criticism always benefits the giver. In most cases, it is done to make the giver feel in some way superior to the receiver. It is often negative and judgemental. It is in many cases subjective rather than objective and it is usually destructive.

Types of feedback

  • Purposeful feedback can be divided into two types:
  • Positive feedback
  • Constructive feedback.

Positive feedback

Positive feedback is also known as ‘praise’. This type of feedback is mainly used as a motivator. It recognises the good work that someone has done and rewards them for it.

Constructive feedback

Constructive feedback is letting someone know that they did not do something in an appropriate way, or that they did something incorrectly. The message is constructive and helps the individual to improve, rather than just being a message about what they shouldn’t do.

 

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NLP – how can it help you succeed? Part 2

NLP, or neuro-linguistic programming to give it it’s more intimidating title, is all about changing the way you approach situations, they way you think about them and then your behaviour in dealing with them. Ultimately, the end goal is use certain techniques in order to be more successful in everything you do.

Part 1 can be found here for the first six presuppositions of NLP or remaining six.

7. People are not their behaviours.

This means that you accept the person, even if their behaviour is unacceptable to you, given your map of the world. If the behaviour is not useful to them, you can support and assist them to change that behaviour.

There is a distinction between self, intention and behaviour. We often get these muddled up. Take the time to separate these, especially in difficult situations with other people.

Consider how you would want others to view you. How many times have you done something and thought later ‘I don’t know why I did that. It just wasn’t me’?

8. People have all the resources they need.

People do not lack resources. They can, however, experience  less resourceful states where the resources are out of reach. This means that in a different and more resourceful state, they can accomplish whatever they choose.

9. If someone else can do it, then I can do it.

If someone can do something, then, barring physical limitations, it is possible for anyone. There are no limitations to a person’s ability to learn. 

10. The part of a system with the most flexibility will have the most influence on the system.

This is the sometimes called the Law of Requisite Variety. It means that the more choices you have, the more options you have and therefore the more likely you are to be successful within the system you are operating in.

11. There is no failure, only feedback.

If a person does not succeed in something, the key is to learn something; treat what’s happened as feedback and thus do something different next time around.

Consider failure as simply meaning that you have not succeeded yet, and make it an opportunity to learn. Failure is just a label for the result you did not want, but it is a label with a sense of finality and dead end. Feedback is another label for the result you did not want and it offers hope of eventual success.

12.If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got.

So if what you’re doing isn’t working, do something else!

And remember, it is easier to change your own behaviour than anybody else’s.

True?

Remember, we are not saying that all these are true, though they might be. We are simply saying that they are a useful set of beliefs that offer you a more successful approach to life, an approach that will bring improved results if you act as though they are true.

 

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NLP – how can it help you succeed? Part 1

NLP, also known as Neuro-Linguistic Programming, essentially is just a way of thinking. NLP has identified a set of beliefs that have proved useful; in other words, it has been observed over time that you and I will get better results if we act as though these beliefs are true.

Have you noticed that some people get consistently better results in their lives than others? Ever wondered how they do it?

You probably already realise that it is largely about their approach to life, their way of thinking about life. So, what do they do that is different?

Presuppositions of NLP

1. The other person’s model of the world deserves respect.

In NLP, the set of beliefs we develop over time is called our ‘model of the world’. Since we each develop our own model of the world, based on our own experiences, our model is true for us.

Another person’s model is equally true for them, and just as valid as ours. It thus deserves respect in the same way that we would wish them to respect our own model. It is not our responsibility to change another person’s model of the world through an attempt to convince them that ours is better. 

2. The meaning and outcome of communication is in the response you get.

We are generally taught that if we clearly communicate our thoughts and feelings through words, the other person should understand our meaning. We know from experience, however, that this does not always happen. The only way you can determine how effectively you are communicating is by observing the response you get from the person you are communicating with. If you get a response that indicates that they did not understand, then your communication was faulty. You therefore need to find a different way to get the concept across.

Acting as though this is true means that you accept 100 per cent of the responsibility for effective communication. You cannot ‘blame’ somebody else if your communication does not succeed.

3.The map is not the territory.

The model of the world which we create is what we use to navigate through life. We use it like a map to navigate through our reality. The map we use is not the actual reality, any more than the map in your car is the real countryside. It is simply an incomplete representation, which includes inaccuracies and errors, just as your road map can get out of date and not show absolutely everything that is there.

Each of us acts according to our personal map of reality, not reality itself. We operate and communicate from our maps. Most human problems are caused by the maps in our heads. Think about this; it is easier to change the map than the territory.

4. The mind and the body affect each other.

The mind and the body are one unit, fully interconnected. It is not possible to make a change in one without the other being affected.

5. People are doing the best they can with the resources they have available.

People set out to do well, not poorly. We do the best we can with what we have at the time in the way of resources.

6. Every behaviour has a positive intention.

A person’s behaviour has a positive intent for them at the time of the behaviour. From the perspective of their map of the world, the behaviour makes sense and seeks to provide a benefit.

The intention behind a behaviour may not be obvious to others or may not be considered positive by others.

Consider how things would be different if you assumed that everything anybody did was for a ‘good’ reason. Good by their standards that is.

I will post Presuppositions of NLP 7-12 later in Part 2

Post courtesy of People Alchemy

 

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