Reinforce the good
The stage has been set, we have laid out our expectations, so, now what?
Two things: back off and get out of the way.
We’ve been talking about the traits of truly great managers; not those who are managers merely because their title says so, but those real professionals who are able to bring out the very best in people and help develop them into who they wish to become.
We have discussed the importance of likability. We have agreed that the role of a manager is not about winning a popularity contest, but working hard at being disliked is not a trait that will pay the kind of dividends great managers hope to receive.
We are all far more likely to willingly go along with the thoughts, ideas and suggestions of those we like as opposed to those we don’t. Â Again, here’s the key … willingly.
Last week we focused on the value in setting clear and negotiated expectations with each direct report thereby establishing a direct pathway leading to exemplary performance, while also substantially reducing the likelihood of surprises.
Now what we do?
Assuming that each of our staff members has all of the tools and resources necessary for optimal success, that they have received all of the training required and that they have demonstrated capability of achieving success, then your next step is to simply leave them alone and allow them to succeed.
Remember, your role is to provide the environment for success, to always be available when needed as coach and mentor, and to ensure that their every need for achieving success is met.
Your role is not to check in on them every five minutes and ask how they’re doing – micro-managers produce micro-results – it is to remove all barriers to their success.
There is, however, one vitally important job you must perform and it is your duty to do so as often as possible.
It is this: go out of your way to catch your staff doing good work and reinforce it with timely acknowledgment, recognition or reward.
That’s right that is your job, to catch people doing good work and then let them know they’ve done good work.
There is a powerful reason for this. An old adage reminds us, “What gets rewarded, gets repeated.”
When we acknowledge work and effort done well, we are increasing the probability it will be repeated.
We also need to be mindful of not rewarding those behaviors that are neither appropriate nor productive.
Unfortunately, all too often, managers choose, for a multitude of reasons, to ignore certain types of poor performance or behavior.
The decision to do so is fraught with high-risk.
In the absence of information to the contrary, everything is viewed as positive reinforcement. This means that by choosing silence when somebody does something they shouldn’t, then, by saying and doing nothing, managers are rewarding those very behaviours and thereby increasing the probability of its being repeated.
Exactly the opposite of what they say they want.
As managers, we all have two separate jobs to perform: our job, the stuff we have to do that does not involve managing the performance of others, and the job of managing others.
The biggest complaint I hear from managers is that the amount of their time and energy needed to manage their folks leaves them little to no time to do their own work.
And yet when they begin managing by expectation and consequence they very quickly discover two things: there is a near immediate measurable upgrade in employee deliverables and they find themselves with sufficient time to get their own jobs done and still have time to spare for other ventures.
And they rarely go back to their old ways.
After all, the best differentiator between an effective and an ineffective manager is the calibre of their direct reports.
Till we read again.