by Tom Casey, Managing Principal Discussion Partner Collaborative
Just as frequently as we hear the words “they are terrific” and “I am so happy with their performance” we encounter the words “they are a disappointment” or “we expected more”.
In business when we assess the disparity in achievement outcomes we usually blame the employee without a modicum of enterprise self-introspection.
The forceful question of…..”Was it our fault”? Is rarely if ever asked.
The Pygmalion effect whereby we broadcast our faith in success to an incumbent still has merit. If we show doubt in the remotest way, the end result is likely to be a disappointment.
There is a great scene in The Hoosiers where Gene Hackman says to at best a marginal player whose free throw could win the game “after you sink the ball etc.” He obviously tried to hide the fact that his nose was growing: but he did inspire the requisite confidence.
It is highly unlikely that the raw talent necessary to execute a task is not resident within or can develop in an employee IF the hiring process is rigorous.
While there are of course hiring, promotion, and performance errors do occur….however the rush to judgment the root cause of deficiency resides with the employee should not be an automatic response.
As important to remember is that employee “failure” is not time-bound. One can be a Prince or Princess one day and a Frog the next.
DPC would submit the least likely excuse for failure is a lack of talent. The most likely is the failure of the organization to successfully on-board, develop, lead, and measure the proficiencies of the employee.
For most companies this process can best be judged as informal beyond the traditional administrative tasks of logistics, benefits enrollment, etc.
DPC would suggest that the assignment of a longer tenured employee to a new role, geography, and/or circumstance should ALSO be perceived as an On-Boarding event.
To be the most impactful the process needs to be “leader driven” whereby clarity around role architecture, impact measurement, development opportunities, and senior level access form a covenant of mutual obligation vs. a “let me know if you are having any problems “approach.
There is no professional attribute of “perfection on demand”. Proficiency attainment and sustainability is an arduous exercise that is never ending.
To increase the chances of success it is necessary to engage in a serious Trilogy dialogue encompassing the following:
- This is what we know you know
- This is what we know you don’t know
- This is what the company is prepared to do to bridge the gap0
The true professional regardless of career stage is constantly looking to raise their “IQ”. It is incumbent on their company to be a partner vs. spectator in this quest.
Clarity of Expectations
In the movie Animal House a fraternity was informed after the fact that they were on “double secret probation”.
Unfortunately for many employees regardless of tenure there is a moving target on which they are being assessed.
Beyond the fairness of this, it is south of sensational as a leadership strategic behavior.
Employees crave clarity along the lines of President Regan’s assertion of his public policy goal with the then Soviet Union, “we win, they lose”.
The psyche of an employee whom is committed is not abstract…..they want to understand what they have to do to be successful…..and they don’t’ think in terms of disappointment.
The two most critical elements to embed the above into an organization’s human capital posture include Feedback and Reward.
Reward is simple…..if you get superior performance recognize the energy and outcome in a generous way! Sanctions should be utilized if and only if the achievement level is not at standard AND it is adjudicated to be the consequence of incumbent proficiency.
Feedback is not….it requires leaders to step outside their comfort zone and confront problems, deficiencies, and disappointing behaviors. None if which is easy! However it is essential!
People fail to meet expectations….such is professional life….what should not be automatic in the leadership mentality however is the pre-supposition that the enterprise is blameless and the outcomes were pre-ordained.
Publication Announcement-Discussion Partner Collaborative is pleased to announce that our upcoming book “Inflection Points-Risk Readiness & Failure Fearless!” will be available in mid-June in the States and Globally July 1st.
The focus of this book addresses the question “are their common denominators to consider between and among senior executives, career focused South American women, and returning military veterans as they assess and plan their career options”?