When it comes to maximizing office productivity, leaders are faced with several challenges. On the one hand, you want to get the most out of your employees. On the other hand, you don’t want to push your team past the threshold of exhaustion. Burnout is a real problem in today’s workplace culture. Leaders must find a way to avoid burnout while still fostering sustainable office productivity. The question is: how?
Expectations and Motivation
In any successful organization, its core values are defined for all its people from the very beginning. These values lay out what the business aims to achieve and how it aims to achieve it. As a result, clear expectations are set for all staff members. Employees will understand how to behave as well as the consequences of not meeting these expectations.
However, consequences alone won’t enhance employee performance management. People need motivation to work harder and feel good about their work. This motivation can come in many forms. Ideally, an employee will have flocked to the company because his/her core values align with the culture and values of the business. If this is the case, the employee will feel inherently motivated by contributing to the company’s success.
But staff members can always be motivated further. For some, receiving praise on a job well done is a strong motivating tool. For others, it’s compensation or promotion. Whatever the case, the best way to motivate employees is to appeal to their core values and encourage their great work.
Encourage a Healthy Separation of Work and Home Life
Not feeling motivated can certainly lead to burnout. But the other leading cause stems from the inability to get away from work. Of course, some employees work from home and others enjoy collecting overtime as compensation for extra hours worked. Still, failing to find a healthy balance between work and life outside of work is bound to create burnout in most employees at some point.
When building office culture, leaders should keep this separation in mind and respect the private lives of all employees once the work day is done. Employees should also feel encouraged to take a reprieve from work every now and then, either for a personal day or a week-long vacation. These breaks for the day-to-day stresses of work actually benefit employee productivity management in the long-term.
Of course, every now and then you may have to call an employee after hours for clarification or to change plans on the spot. Aside from these litter interruptions, though, compartmentalizing work and life is usually for the best.
In business performance management, striking the balance between healthy productivity and burnout is challenging. As a leader, you want your employees to feel motivated on their own and know what’s expected of them. You also want the most work possible to get done, but you know that this will come at a cost of your team’s well-being and long-term success.
For more advice on how to maximize productivity and minimize burnout, visit Leadership Resources. Here you’ll find tools, worksheets, reading material, videos, and more, all designed to improve your leadership abilities and enhance your business. At Leadership Resources, our purpose is making the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more.Read More
No one enjoys giving or receiving negative feedback. Those on the receiving end might feel small and incompetent, while those dishing it out might feel they’re being too harsh … or not harsh enough. No matter what, both parties feel uncomfortable. However, giving feedback is a crucial part of employee performance management. The problem is knowing how to go about it.
People often fall into the trap of serving the “$#it sandwich.” This useful slang term refers to negative feedback squished between two soft, bland buns of positive sentiment in the form of irrelevant praise. The intention here is to soften the blow and minimize the bad taste left from hard criticism. However, delivering a $#it sandwich often results in a worse outcome than offering direct feedback. Why is this? And how can leaders give feedback to employees without disguising or diluting it?
Why the $#it Sandwich Goes Bad
Effective leadership depends on transparency. The $#it sandwich approach to feedback is antithetical to this. When leaders insert their true feedback between compliments and niceties, the message quickly gets lost, and the receiver often feels patronized and confused. This isn’t to say that those giving the feedback should be intentionally mean, of course. Rather, all feedback, good and bad, should be to the point. This will allow the person receiving it to understand exactly what he/she did right or wrong, making course correction easier to handle.
Better Ways to Deliver Feedback
For leaders to improve their business performance management, they need to go beyond the $#it sandwich. There are several better ways to give feedback, but they all follow the same principles.
- Avoid the Ego
The human ego makes feedback delivery and reception very difficult. We often feel personally attacked when hearing about our mistakes. Delivering feedback can feel personal too, as the giver might feel self-conscious about how this interaction will affect the relationship. It’s not easy to detach oneself from the ego, but leaders can find ways to give feedback that focuses more on the problem and less on the people. This is a difficult balance to strike because the people involved have to be the ones making the change.
Still, leaders can help erase the ego from the equation by focusing on the future rather than past. In other words, negative feedback shouldn’t simply dwell on a person’s past mistakes. Rather, it should address the problem before quickly moving toward a future scenario in which things have improved. This still keeps the employee accountable but provides a more objective pathway for correcting errors.
- Establish an Atmosphere of Openness
When the workplace is closed off in terms of communication, any feedback feels abrupt and even offensive. Conversely, work environments that encourage questions, criticisms, changes, and friendly dialogue allow feedback to flow naturally. Employees and leaders are constantly giving each other feedback in this type of open space so that even the harshest criticisms are understood to be constructive and normal. Staff members will naturally become closer and more connected so that the flimsy bread of the $#it sandwich becomes an unnecessary platitude, thrown away altogether.
- Keep Reviews Consistent
Another way to avoid the abruptness of negative feedback is to create a regular performance management review system for all employees. These can be monthly, bi-annual, or annual check-ins with employees to go over areas of improvement, make suggestions, and discuss the concerns of both parties. There is always a risk of making these reviews too formal and rigid, however. While these surveys should include specific items, the review itself should flow like a conversation where both parties truly feel engaged.
Conducting these reviews well will take the $#it sandwich and expand it into an organic meal. This is a space for both positive and negative feedback, but none of it will feel crammed in, hidden, or artificially procured. Additionally, the focus of these reviews should be more on the future than the past. In other words, leaders and employees should examine how the previous period of time went, but use it as a springboard for making course corrections in the future. The regularity of these examinations will keep employees and leaders aware of the present moment at all times.
Learning how to give and receive feedback is one of the most challenging and important leadership qualities to develop. Leaders should aim to establish a workplace open to communication, detached from egos, and structured enough so that everyone receives feedback on a regular basis. Leadership Resources can help leaders develop ways of giving feedback that go beyond the failings of a $#it sandwich. Contact us here to learn more.Read More
The key to personal growth is honest, constructive evaluation. The past few decades have seen the rise of a mindset that casts every individual as equals, not just in opportunity, but in outcome. While few deny that people should be treated fairly, we’re starting to see the negative consequences of rewarding everyone evenly, regardless of differences in effort, ability, or intelligence.
By giving everyone a trophy, we fail to equip young people with an understanding of how the world works. In truth, some people do better than others in life. But without knowing the underlying reasons for this variation of outcome, people become embittered and their own personal development is stunted as a result.
So, when someone underperforms in the workplace, leaders need to find effective ways to approach the subject, knowing that this person might not have received this type of criticism before. How can leaders tackle employee performance management in the modern age?
Making Expectations Clear
One of the most important tasks of a leader is laying out expectations early and often. The more staff members hear these expectations, the more likely they are to follow them. Then, if anyone fails to meet them, there should be no confusion as to where they went wrong. In this way, clear expectations lead to increased accountability.
These guidelines can be iterated in many ways. Some businesses create acronyms or mantras that keep their mission statement front and center at all times. Hosting daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly meetings that go over these expectations can also help improve employee and business performance management. These meetings should dive into real world applications to reinforce the importance of maintaining these standards.
Talk with Transparency
When it comes time to confront an individual who is underperforming, be as open and transparent as possible. There is no benefit to talking around the issue. So many people have been let down by coaches, parents, teachers, and other leaders avoiding the real problems and resorting to platitudes. Leaders must speak directly to the person and address their shortcomings – but they can’t stop there.
To truly foster personal and leadership growth, a good leader must explain why they’re giving this feedback, and how it can be used as a teachable moment where this person can learn and grow. Negative feedback simply isn’t enough and it might even shock the person if they’re not used to receiving it. By offering full transparency and constructive criticism, leaders can help lift up their team members and strengthen the entire business. If expectations have been clearly established, this person should be able to see where they took a wrong turn and how they can right it moving forward.
Limits of the Blame Game
Yes, sometimes something is entirely one person’s fault. In these cases, the person should take responsibility for the mistake and seek to fix it. This is a crucial part of leadership development. However, when people begin playing the blame game, either casting all the blame on themselves or others, things can go awry.
Some companies have built into their performance management operations “autopsies without blame” (a term coined by Jim Collins). These are meetings involving all relevant team members where a problem is dissected but not targeted to one individual. The goal here is not to rid anyone of accountability, but to address a real problem and move forward as a team, with full knowledge that everyone makes mistakes. For large scope business performance management concerns, this approach is often warranted. People will feel less alienated and more willing to solve the problem collaboratively.
Conversations involving performance management are not easy and some people aren’t used to receiving harsh criticism. Still, there are ways for leaders to make these conversations easier and more productive in the end. By setting clear standards, speaking openly and honestly, and not casting targeted blame for larger issues, team members will perform better and grow as individuals.
Leadership Resources helps leaders hone these interpersonal skills. Through education, personalized business coaching, and a large library of resources, we make the impossible possible by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. For more information, contact us today.Read More