Last week we introduced the concept of the Dynamic Performance Checklist, using the analogy of a business as a car driving along.
In the context of Managing Staff for High Performance, it is critical that you - and your team - keep looking forward and perform as the car moves along.
This week we examine the detail of the Dynamic Performance Checklist; the 6 Key Elements you need to keep in mind as you interact with your staff and deal with issues in the business.
Don't forget you can read all the information contained in this month's blog posts by downloading our free eBook, Managing Staff for High Performance.
The Dynamic Performance Checklist
The Dynamic Performance Checklist has 6 key elements that you as a manager, owner or leader in the business need to think about as you go about your day-to-day activities:
- Objective and Outcome
- Strengths and Weaknesses
- Expectations – communicate, communicate, communicate!
- Question and Check
- Monitor and Feedback
Keep this checklist in your mind as you deal with your team and any issues within the business, and have open discussions and communication with individuals and teams about these things.
Remember, you’re looking out the windscreen – not the rear-vision mirror – so you need to think about this checklist ‘proactively’.
You don’t want to think about these issues as you look in the rear-vision mirror to see the size of the pothole you just hit!
1) Objective and Outcome
Be clear about your objective up front and share it with the individual team members who will drive its delivery.
It’s good to share it in verbal communication, but you should also neatly and simply document it.
Here’s an example.
You’ve had some slow payers, delinquent debts, complaints from customers about invoices, so you want to establish a new billing and debtor management process.
As a business owner, think about what’s the objective and outcome you want to achieve?
Specifically, what does success look like to you, in terms of this billing and debtor process? Make it clear and document it if you need to.
If you’re still wrestling with details, such as payment terms, then either make a decision or talk to your team, get their input and then decide.
Good performance always starts from a very clear, concise and contested objective.
If you’re unclear upfront, then the results will be the same: shady objectives deliver shady results.
2) Strengths and Weaknesses
Think about the members of your team who will deliver the outcome that’s right for the business.
In our example of a billing and debtor management system, clearly your financial controller, some of your administration team and perhaps your operations manager are key players in implementing the new process.
Think behind the strengths and weaknesses of each of those players, in terms of the particular issue you’re dealing with.
Make sure weaknesses are either acknowledged or mitigated in the team you put together to do the job.
In our example, your operations manager ‘Joe’ has a good sense of which clients will accept a change in payment terms or invoice processing, but lacks understanding of the administrative detail that goes into drafting a new credit application for new customers.
Acknowledge that directly with Joe and indicate that, because he hasn’t got the strength in that area, you’ve asked an administrator to assist him.
Think carefully about the risks you can potentially mitigate through careful planning and pre-emptive strategies.
Talk to your team members about those risks and get their views.
In our new billing system example, there may be a risk payments will go astray because your bank account details will be changed as part of the process and customers will be confused about what account to use, negatively impacting cash flow.
These are all risks, however they can be managed and mitigated if shared with the team and the team can give input about how these things can be dealt with.
Ensuring everyone is clear on your expectations of them is the most important element of the checklist and it all comes down to communication.
Back at step one you needed to make clear your expectations regarding the Objective and Outcome.
You also need to ensure each individual understands their role in the process.
Make clear who has the lead role, what their accountabilities and responsibilities are, who has the support role, and what their contribution needs to be.
We’ve all heard of team politics, miscommunications and conflicts. Everyone has an ego, even in the smallest of teams.
Here’s an example of how you could handle our billing system situation:
“Joe, as operations manager I expect you to deliver this new debtor management and invoicing process. It’s your responsibility because ultimately you’re responsible for the overall performance of this business line.”
“Mary, you have some important responsibilities in the financial and accounts area and you have a practical understanding of the processes of our financial system and our other financial requirements. You’re role here is to ensure the process runs smoothly and the detail is delivered as part of this new debtor management system. The team is counting on you to make sure we get a practical solution.”
It’s all about communication, communication, communication.
‘I told you so’ a sign of poor communication
We talk about this in many eBooks, but performance is enhanced dramatically, sometimes 5- to 10-fold, by clear, positive, dynamic and pre-emptive communication.
If you find yourself reflecting on someone’s performance and saying ‘I told you so, this shouldn’t have happened’, it usually means you or their manager didn’t successfully communicate your expectations.
So, before blame is attributed, ask yourself: Did you make your expectations clear at the outset?
5) Question and Check
Knowing your team’s individual strengths and weaknesses, you need to help them achieve the outcomes you’ve articulated by questioning and checking their progress.
Remember, we’re not looking in the rear-vision mirror, we’re looking ahead.
Our debtor management example may include a number of phases with timing milestones established.
Use those as checkpoints to query and check progress.
Every manager is different. You will find your own balance depending on the risks and issues, strengths and weaknesses of your team.
But remember, you’ve got a responsibility as well, so feel comfortable objectively questioning progress so you can assist in avoiding any log jams.
However, resist the temptation to ‘do it yourself’ – remember, there is much more value for the business and the individual team members if they can deliver the goods!
6) Monitor and Feedback
Once the outcome is delivered, or starts to be delivered, don’t leave it too late to monitor the implementation and provide feedback:
“Mary, I’m really happy with the result. We’ve had our first month on the new system and it seems to be working in a practical, commercial way. I know you’ve had a few hiccups but are you happy with how it’s going?”
“Joe, our existing clients seem to be responding well to our new invoicing system. Have you heard of any issues with new clients and the credit application?”
It’s two-way feedback. You’re not there to hand out gold stars or black marks; you’re there to engage the team.
Next week we'll discuss what to cover in your Performance in Review sessions. If you don't feel like waiting, simply download our free eBook, Managing Staff for High Performance.
If you would like more information on the above article, if you have a particular business need you'd like to discuss, or if you have a topic to suggest for future eBooks, please click here to contact the JPAbusiness team.