No Surprises

My friend Andrea recently gave performance reviews to her staff. She was pleased with their responses, and I offered kudos on how she delivered these reviews.

She replied, “You owe the people below you as much as you do those above you.”

What a great comment! Andrea provides regular feedback and treats her team with professional courtesy and respect. Her statement embodies these values. The positive response from her team is a consequence of this ongoing, regular dialogue.

Many leaders, however, neglect giving regular feedback and are faced with disgruntled responses during reviews. Here are some ways you can accomplish avoid surprises.

+ Give feedback on a timely basis. If they do something well, acknowledge it. If they do something wrong, nip it in the bud. Describe how they should do it differently the next time. Both positive and developmental feedback are important.

+ Repeat when necessary. If someone “ignores” your request, repeat it before too much time goes by.” Example: a rising star has received additional responsibility but is glued to the clock and is out the door at the dot of 5. His manager has repeatedly told him that his job is no longer bound by 9-5, but he ignores this message. The manager needs to reinforce the message, and why it is important for his career.

+ Establish accountability. Identify the consequences of what happens if they do not follow your directions, and hold them to it. People learn faster when you can enforce accountability (remember the carrot and stick?).

Many well-intentioned leaders think that their team members are self-starters, self-regulators, and self-managing. As wonderful as this ideal image seems, it’s probably far from reality. Do what you need to do to reinforce regularly the work habits that you expect and this will result in fewer surprises

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