Welcome to Zia Executive Articles. Here are a collection of short articles covering topics from leadership and coaching to team and individual development.
How do I Motivate my Team - Tips for ManagersIt's a question I am asked frequently when working with managers. The research into motivation runs far and deep and every business school, journal and magazine has focused on it. So, needless to say, theories aren't in short supply. From my own experience, motivation is not something you can "train" into people. It's not a skill or a competency. Motivation is an internal process, driven by our intrinsic values and beliefs - the things we hold most dear. When you begin to understand those values and beliefs, you then begin to understand what you can do to motivate your people. One way is by incorporating motivating behaviours into your management style. The managers I've met that are good at this are not only good managers, but good leaders as well. So what does this mean? Here are a few simple questions to ask yourself.
How do I give Feedback to my employees: Tips for Managers
Giving performance feedback can be a traumatic experience for managers. Ok, traumatic is a bit of an overstatement, but it is a question I am often asked when I am working with team managers.
Throughout our lives, feedback has enabled us to learn and develop our knowledge, skills and abilities. It is, in fact, a fundamental component of learning. And almost everyone wants to know how they are doing even if the feedback is uncomfortable to hear. Feedback gives us the information we need to make a decision on what to do next - it offers us a choice. And when feedback is given effectively it is one of the most powerful tools in a manager's toolkit for building trust, performance, and motivation in their team.
There are countless models for giving feedback, such as STAR, AIM, SBI to name a few. All of them are useful, but what I have found works best is when managers adopt and adapt the principles below. These suggestions are loosely linked around the GROW coaching model:
When to give feedback - performance feedback is best given fresh, not months down the road when it may have been forgotten. Find time to provide feedback often - e.g. over a cup of coffee, in the cab on the way back from a meeting, in a weekly/monthly catch-up meeting etc. Frequent feedback also helps to catch performance problems early rather than make it a once a year "dump" and avoids the performance appraisal "surprise". Try to be balanced with your feedback addressing both positives as well as negatives throughout the year.
Who goes first? - Ask your employee to tell you how they think they performed. A couple of starter questions might be: "So how do you think that went?", "What has gone well this year?" "Is there anything that you could have done differently?", "What would you like to improve on for next year?" Asking an individual to express their own views first helps them feel more comfortable with the process and establishes some common ground around which you can base your own observations. It also gives you as the manager some information about where the individual places their performance. Is it in line with your expectations? Below or above? And also helps you gauge how they will respond to the feedback you need to give. If there is a big discrepancy, it may signal a defensive response that you can plan for.
Recognize the positives - Recognize where your employee has improved or done well since your last feedback conversation. Stay focused on providing concrete examples of observed behavior and importantly the impact of the behavior. This helps to reinforce behaviors that are valued and helps to set a positive tone for the rest of the conversation.
Just the facts please - feedback should be very specific and factual. Avoid giving generalized feedback based on personal opinion or biases. If the feedback is potentially contentious, employees may interpret this as a personal attack and react defensively. Instead focus on actual events that are factual and supported with behavioral evidence. Linking this with the impact of the behavior allows employees the opportunity to understand the feedback more clearly. This in turn will enable them to respond more openly.
Focus on behavior - In performance feedback, the goal is to change or reinforce the behaviors that impact performance; it is not about changing the person. Focusing on behavior during your feedback meetings also helps to de-personalize feedback. A defensive response probably means they've taken it personally.
If the feedback consists of situations where the individual clashes with others and they feel that they are not at fault ask the individual to say what they felt they contributed to the clash and what they might have done differently to avoid it.
Feedforward - There is a tendency at times to dwell on the negative. Move the conversation forward as quickly as is appropriate to keep the discussion focused on positive next steps e.g. what can be done by the employee to improve performance. Ask the individual to contribute their own view about possible solutions. Explore options and ways in which the individual could be helped. Be prepared to give positive advice and guidance to the individual if they are having difficulty in finding a way forward.
Next steps - towards the end of your feedback discussion always seek to secure agreement on a concrete way forward. Establish an action plan and agree timescales to revisit. This plan should contain specific things that the individual will do differently and any support you will provide. When will you meet next to update?
Happy Endings - always try and end on a positive note. Remind the individual again of the positive aspects of the feedback and what you value about their contribution. Encourage them to take the actions necessary to overcome any difficulties and remind them of your willingness to support them in this process.
The key is to use feedback regularly and to make it a two-way conversation that recognizes the employees part in the process. It is most powerful when it is given regularly, honestly and constructively even if it is uncomfortable for all those involved. But practice does help and the more you do it, the better you'll get. Good luck!!
Designing a Mentoring Programme? Here are some things to consider
So why do you want a mentoring program? Is it for networking? communication? change? new employees? development? Programs have been designed for many reasons and some for no reasons other than linking people together. In any case once you have defined your goals for a program the design of a it becomes clearer. In this article, we present a few things to consider.
Uses and Benefits
As mentioned above, formal mentoring programs within organizations are generally used in a framework of development. They may also be designed to include a highly effective means of managing talent and be useful in succession planning. They are powerful in aiding the management of change and in communication, specifically, the sharing of information and knowledge.
Additional ways mentoring programs can been used include:
The benefits to the organization and the individual are numerous. Among other things, mentoring programs can facilitate greater confidence and transfer of knowledge as well as quicken career progression for employees. Equally it gives mentors the opportunity to develop their coaching and people management skills. Below is a sampling of potential benefits.
If the program is carefully planned and specific outcomes and business objectives are set along with consideration for the points below, the chances are high that the organization and the people involved will experience high rewards. But it cannot be stressed enough that the "right" systems and practices for your organization need to be put in place or be ready to roll out, before a mentoring program should be launched. Some things to consider:
A few words on informal programs:In some instances it may make more sense to launch an informal mentoring program or indeed run informal alongside formal programs. In either case, informal programs have most of the same benefits of formal programs, but matching of mentors and mentees occurs spontaneously without a formal matching process.
Formal mentoring programs tend to "force" people together based on limited criteria and information gathered from some sort of questionnaire/application form. Whereas informal matches tend to be based on personal alignments such as values, beliefs, and individual needs. In my experience, formal programs are useful for introducing mentoring to an organization with limited experience of mentoring or alternatively if very specific goals and objectives need to be achieved and measured. Informal programs are useful when the organization already has a development oriented culture. Most of the mentoring relationships that I have been in and continue to be in have been informal and spontaneous.In either case, given time, a mentoring culture can develop whereby mentoring becomes spontaneous and self-sustaining. In addition, I have used online mentoring, mentoring pools and group mentoring as a way to continue to integrate mentoring into an organization's culture and to provide "just in time" mentoring.
Some Barriers and Problems:It is important to bear in mind that mentoring programs can be extremely powerful developmental tools but they are not a panacea and they will not "fix" problems in the organization. If there are inherent organizational cultural issues, the program may be doomed to fail even before it begins. For example, senior managers don't feel there is value in it and therefore don't support it, or the skills needed to mentor effectively don't exist within the mentor population and are not provided for.
Mentoring programs are most successful, when careful consideration to the care and support they require is given. For example, what kind of matching process will you use? How will you ensure mentors and mentees understand their roles? Is there a need to evaluate your program?
Some of the factors that can contribute to the failure of a program include:
So what next:The success of a program is dependent on many factors, not least of which is the organizational culture into which it is launched. Formal programs can work in some organizations, but in others, the constraints of a formal program actually inhibit the success. Likewise informal programs may be more appropriate if the organization's culture supports it and measurement isn't really needed. Start by understanding what you want to achieve and then build a program that meets those needs and considers the points above. But most importantly, just do it. Your employees will thank you for it!