I love my job as a motivational speaker. I get to get to travel to amazing places, work with interesting professionals, and best of all I get to share my passion for how to make this economy (and your employees) start working for you.
This past week found me in Denver, Colorado; St. Louis, Missouri, Hilton Head, South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina and winding up my week speaking with an innovative and highly successful group of CEOs in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It is this last keynote that inspired me to write this blog.
I was presenting on the topic of Employee Engagement, and actually sharing strategies from my newest book “Own It: Redefining Responsibility.” Outlining how the shifts in this economy have changed today’s consumers, today’s employees and how all of that is impacting our businesses; why what we are doing in terms of sales and service, and employee development is not working, and why it is time for a new approach.
These guys were great to present to; they were interested, involved and one-hundred percent committed to taking their businesses, their employees and their clients’ experience to a whole new level. At the end of my keynote, we had a little time for questions, and no surprise these guys had some. A speakers dream, these guys were all about action, and eager for more information and ideas on how to implement and execute.
One of the last questions was about performance management, one of my three key points on how to inspire your team to step to the plate and get passionate about driving results. The specific question was around support and accountability and how to manage those as it relates to performance. Great question, and while they seemed happy with my answer, I got to thinking about it later and I was not.
Now honestly, I am usually pretty good on my feet, a “fly by the seat of your pants” kind of girl, but as I drove back to Asheville, North Carolina (where I live) I kept coming back to that question and feeling like my answer fell short. I thought about that question (and my weak answer) on most of my drive back, pushing on my “lead foot” in hopes that I would make it home in time to hop on my mountain bike before the sun went down. (Yes, I made it!)
Riding my mountain bike is one of my passions, and it is honestly one of the places I do my best thinking. And true to form, after an hour of steep climbing and reflecting on this question (using it as a distraction), I came up with a much better answer regarding performance management. The one I wish I had delivered in that room in Myrtle Beach. With that option off the table, I decided to do the next best thing; put my ideas in this blog and share it not only with these CEOS, but with everyone.
5 Strategies to Put Power in Your Performance Management
- Make The Time – Believe me I get it, the last thing you think you have time for is scheduling one-on-one time with your employees every month. But understand, making the time to coach and mentor your team is one of the strongest returns on investments you can get in this economy. In today’s economy it is not what you are selling, but how you are selling it, that is growing your bottom line.That means every member of your team is in business of sales and service, whether they know it or not. It costs six times as much to attract a new customer as it takes to retain an existing, and existing clients are thirty-three percent more likely to buy additional products or service. I could go on with the stats on the bottom line results of ensuring your existing clients have an amazing experience each and every time they interact with your team.
Just one hour a month per employee will do the trick, but you have to schedule it and you have to commit. Think about the money and time you spend going out and getting new business, don’t you want to ensure those new clients stay long term? Yeah you do, so make the time!
- Create The Structure – These meetings should take no more than an hour, and to ensure they don’t you need structure. Nothing complicated, but you and your employee need to know what is going to be discussed in this meeting, how the meeting will flow, and what the starting and ending point will be. Having structure will keep the meeting on track, focused, and ensures everyone’s time is well spent.The structure can be simple, as simple as discussing two things the employee is doing well or has accomplished; two things they need to work on and improve; and skills they want to develop or questions you need to answer; and last but not least the action plan to ensure implementation.
- Take It Live – I always recommend that some of these sessions be “live”, meaning you are not just talking about how to make a sales calls or how to proactively add value to a client interaction, but you actually do it. If your team is telling you they are too busy to call customers, or they are not getting results from their customer interactions, then stop talking about how to do it, and go do it with them. Let them listen to you make a call or two, then you listen and live coach them making one. Shaking up the coaching process can be so valuable not only for you team, but for you, you may just be surprised at what you learn.
- Play Second Fiddle – This is their coaching session not yours, remember that. So make sure they take the lead, and you play second fiddle. Coaching is about listening, not about talking. Once the structure is developed, make sure they are running the show. Your coachee needs to come into the session prepared to lead the session, they need to tell you what they are doing well or have accomplished, they need to say what they need to work on, and they need to create and commit to their plan of action. Sure you weigh in and have your additional ideas and opinions, but remember people support what they help create, so let them run the show.
- Keep It Small – Change is a game of stamina, and you better be ready to stand strong if you hope to make change happen. Getting your team to sell, proactively service or doing anything differently is a lot like getting your two year old to behave in church. In other words it is hard, and you need to be ready, and expect they will push back, protest and give you every excuse in the book. If you relax, cave or accept their push back, change will never happen. So make this easy, keep pushing the change, but start small. Find those one or two employees that seem open to the idea, and put all of your time and energy into them. Get the “early adopters” to make change first, and they will bring the rest of team on board.
So now I feel better having answered this question a little better (believe me I could go on!). I passionately believe that people want to do a good job, they want to be successful, and they want to be held accountable and supported in their roles. We as leaders need to step the plate, and start engaging our employees in the performance process. Today’s economy is not down, what it is, is different, and success today is about understanding how this economy has changed, and how those changes impact our customers and our employees. Now that you understand the shift, go out and make this economy start working for you!