Recently in our work with staff, teams and leaders, my business partner, Tulsi van de Graaff and I have been talking about performance conversations and we’ve seen many situations of interest. For example:
- A manager who invests time and effort in having great conversations with his team members and yet doesn’t get the same support when talking to his own manager
- A change leader supporting a revised performance and development program who really wants it to succeed this time around
- A staff member who says, ‘why bother? I won’t get anything out of it’.
We know that taking the time to connect to people, to talk about their work, their challenges, strengths and career hopes is very important. It supports good performance, engagement, motivation and satisfaction. It helps people to feel valued and that what they do is important.
It comes down to leadership – the value a manager places on having these conversations.
- If managers don’t think it is important – then it isn’t.
- If they say it is important then don’t find the time to have the conversation – then it isn’t.
- If they do find time to have the conversations but aren’t prepared and don’t add value and aren’t demonstrating in their care that it is important – then it isn’t.
If managers do value their people and having conversation then it is important to make sure they have the necessary skills in place to demonstrate this.
Our experience highlights the following challenges that arise time and time again for leaders:
- Not feeling as if the process is important or valuable for themselves and for others
- Finding ways to engage reluctant employees
- Identifying opportunities and taking action to check-in with team members and give recognition and praise (too many people say that their manager only speaks to them about their performance when something goes wrong)
- Knowing how to provide balanced and constructive feedback to support development and learning
- Feeling they know what to say but don’t have the confidence or right words to say what needs to be said
- Knowing when to coach and when to ‘tell’ when supporting people to learn and develop
- Having conversations that explain clearly what is needed and seek input, ideas and suggestions
- Working with people in ways that create a real sense of collaboration and engagement in relation to goal setting, achievement of goals, review and development.
We support leaders to build skills and motivation to have valuable performance and development conversations through workshops, programs and coaching. We can help you build leadership skills for managers.