I received a note, this week, from a viewer of our new TV segments on WFXR. They posed the following scenario and question. I suggested, to this person, to approach their boss and let them know how they were feeling and respectfully ask them for feedback on how they could work together to improve the situation.
“I think I am one of the hardest working managers in my organization. I get to the office early and frequently stay past when everyone else leaves. I answer emails after hours and always return phone calls if they are urgent, regardless of time of day. The customers I manage seem happy. If I have a problem with a team member, I solve it with them. I do my job and I think I do it pretty well. There’s one problem. My boss never seems to recognize my hard work or dedication. She hasn’t spoken to me in the last few weeks and that’s not unusual at all for her. It’s a month past the time I was supposed to get my annual review. I’m starting to become pretty unplugged and dispassionate about my work because of this. I have no idea if I’m delivering what the company wants from me. There’s just been so much change lately. I don’t know what to make of her silence. I don’t know if the next position that comes open for me to advance into is something she would support me in getting. How do I best handle this situation?”
If you are a leader, reading this scenario, I’m sure that this is not something you would want to hear from one of your highest performers. This situation is common because leaders are so focused on “putting out day to day fires” that they neglect to schedule time to issue effective feedback that will develop and encourage their best performers. The real problem occurs when you lose a few of your high performers and have to replace them. It will cost you WAY more time and money to find, hire, train, and assimilate a new person onto your team than it would to recognize, appreciate, and develop the person who is already doing the job well for you and the organization. According to an article published by SHRM, the direct replacement costs associated with turnover can reach as high as 50-60% of an employee’s annual salary, with total costs associated with turnover ranging from 90% to 200% for high-level team members.
Here’s an easy to follow and execute set of questions that stems from the book, Creating High Performers: 7 Questions to Ask Your Direct Reports that might help. I have added information to each of these, in order to assist you in discussing these with different behavioral styles and to create an atmosphere of accountability for both parties. Schedule time for each of your high performers, in the next couple of weeks, and run through these questions with them.
- Do you understand what performance is expected in your job?
(If they say no and you are confused by that answer since you feel that you have been clear with them in the past about what you expect, try asking it in this way: What would help you the most to better understand what my expectations are of you?)
- Do you know what good or great performance looks like in your job?
Take into account their behavioral style. For high performers, they usually want to exceed your expectations, not just meet them. Being adequate is akin to failing to some folks and especially the Driver behavioral types in DISC. For a Calculator they are going to want to be sure that they are doing things as perfectly as possible. An Influencer type will want you to indicate that you like them and the job they are doing for you. A Supporter type will want to be sure that they are helping you, your customers, and team members in the way that you want them to be.
- Do you get enough feedback on the results you produce?
Remember that different behavioral types require different levels of feedback. It’s important to understand what level of feedback the high performer needs in order to feel that they are being effective at their job. Influencers may want more feedback than a Calculator, for instance.
- Do you have enough authority to carry out what you need to do?
Refer to the segments I just did on aligning accountability, responsibility, and authority.
- In areas where you don’t have authority, are you getting timely decisions from me or other people?
If the feedback you receive, from the high performer, on this question is, “No. I have to wait weeks, sometimes, for decisions from you and it really makes it difficult for me to get the customers what they want or for me to proceed efficiently through my processes.” See if you can’t work out a system for decision-making that will work for both of you. Maybe you could have the team member code the request so you know how important it is or whether it is connected with a high-level client or whether it is attached to a project that will hold up multiple team members or other departments if a decision isn’t made quickly. Perhaps you could schedule a time, once a week, to batch questions and decisions that need to be made.
- Do you have the data, resources, and support to do everything that’s expected of you? If the answer to this one is “no” it’s best to dissect each part of it and determine what can be done to change, if possible, the answers to “yes”. Not having these items, for a high-performer, can create tremendous amounts of frustration on their part. If you can’t supply what they need it will help for them to know a timeline on when you will be able to. If you can’t, period, negotiate what you can get them instead. Maybe there just haven’t been enough ideas passed back and forth to create a win-win situation, yet.
If you receive a “no” to any of these questions, be sure to do what you can to immediately communicate in clear and focused language the answers to them, with your high performer, in order to keep them on track and highly engaged in their work for you and the organization. This isn’t a one and done activity. These are questions you want to be sure the high performer can consistently answer “yes” to. During times of change what’s expected of them could change quickly. You want to be sure each team member is clear, and can tell you, the answers to these questions, at any given time.
These questions are also a great roadmap to follow as you prepare for change. Knowing the answers to these questions will create a level of security in your team members that will allow them to stay out of drama and focus on maintaining high levels of productivity.
If you missed last week’s WFXR, Virginia at Work segments, click here to find out what you need for high productivity to occur with your team members and in your organization.
HIGH 5 to Chris Head
I wanted to offer a BIG HIGH 5 to Delegate Chris Head for receiving the Small Business Advocate the Year award from the Virginia Chamber of Commerce. His tireless work for the business owners in our region was recognized by that organization. Chris is an owner of Home Instead Senior Care of Roanoke and Lynchburg, along with his wife, Betsy. You rock, Chris!