Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Lifting Team Performance at Mid Year

As it's mid-way through the year and many of us have had to commit to goals raising our team's performance. Do you have a plan how you're going to achieve this? Try this simple approach and see how it works for your team and its ability to meeting the new and higher goals.

Step one stand back from the team and identify who your best performers are. Now also categorise those members you consider average and those who are weakest. We will work with these three groups to derive our improvement goals.

Step two identify the four top jobs that need the most performance improvement. Look at each of these jobs and develop four questions you can ask to develop a good understanding of how each person does this series of tasks.

At this stage you should have developed a matrix with four job tasks, and corresponding four questions for each task to gauge the performance, skill, knowledge and actions that each member takes to complete these tasks.

Armed with these questions spend some time with your top performers and ask them your questions.

Take these responses and your own ideas and draft a plan how any mid-year corrections need to be applied.

Schedule time with each of your team members, spend some time to understand how they see their performance to date. Does their view match yours? maybe some options need to be placed on the table. Be sure each of your team members know they are on-track, ahead or behind. Also be sure to plant the tasks you want to see completed by the end of the year.

With candid feedback your team will continue to understand where they are heading and will know what is required of them to get the team to the finish line.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Delivering Criticism

In my last post we discussed dispute resolution. Moving on from this, is a short discussion on delivering criticism. Through criticism we give our team members an opportunity to further develop and improve. However the art of delivering criticism is an area where many of us struggle to deliver in the most appropriate manner.

Leaders who resolve incidents require a method to criticise in an ingrained and diplomatic way addressing the problem. This must be delivered so the recipient does not feel that it is antagonistic, insulting, attacking or punitive, because if this is the case we will have failed as leaders to these team members.

How can you know if your criticism is is being effective? Well in the medium to long term you will see this in observing the positive results. Your team members make fewer mistakes and any negative behaviours vanish from their attitude.

Criticising our team members can be difficult and uncomfortable, but it is an inevitable result of leading a team to producing great results.

Look to balance the importance of the message, with the importance of delivering the criticism in a way that does not undermine the feedback, but encourages its acceptance and generates motivation to achieve the correction.

Resist rash and impulsive demeaning attacks. Be sure to approach the criticism in a thoughtful and not a reactive manner. This way those observing can see you have considered the options and are not shooting from the hip.

Start with a positive statement, then layer in how things may have been improved, and finish with an affirming statement that blends the good idea moving to a great idea with the adjustments.

Some ideas to consider:
Get the facts straight.
Timing - when should it be delivered.
Don't criticise in public.
Use open-ended questions to establish all the information.
Control the situation.
Don't criticise the person - rather focus on the action.
Don't use You or I to much.
Tackle the main points - don't sweat the small stuff.

A tough subject to get right, but one that done properly will ensure your team continues to develop to the point of excellence and beyond.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

How to Arbitrate a Dispute

As leaders we have to deal with our teams, and invariably every so often there is areas of conflict and disputes that need to be resolved. No one enjoys resolving disputes but when you adopt a common process and treat members fairly, they will come to appreciate you for maintaining the teams harmony.

When we need to arbitrate a dispute, it is usually through a two-phased approach that we can achieve a good level of result for all involved.

Phase one requires a clarification focused phase, followed by a resolution phase, by ensuring you complete phase one before tackling phase two you will gather all the appropriate information and not "jump the Gun".

In phase one you need to discuss separately with each party to:

Develop a clear understanding of the differences each party holds,

Gain mutual acceptance that all parties have legitimate positions, though not necessarily agreeable.

In phase two you need to help move the parties toward an agreeable common understanding:

Encourage movement toward integrating the differing positions to find common ground,

Ensuring each party is contributing and no-one is giving more than the other.

By breaking down disputes so each party can develop an understanding of the other parties view we can bring the groups together and the dispute will die into a common understanding from the given original standing.
It is important as leaders to keep on top of dispute and resolve in a timely manner so that it does not get out of control and damage the groups output and cohesion.