Tag Archives: Managing performance

Using the Coaching model GROW

coaching model

Using a coaching model in managing performance

In last week’s managing performance masterclass one of the principles we discussed was to identify when your team need support. One indication of this is when they say “I can’t do this” or after the event when they say “I didn’t have time”.

There can be many reasons someone doesn’t perform to standard and these might include

  • lack the skills and appropriate training
  • inadequate resources or tools
  • not enough time due to too much to do or staff shortages
  • they have not been given authority or access to everything they need
  • mixed messages from management about what they should be doing

But despite having everything they need it doesn’t necessarily mean they can do the task to standard, or do it at all!

Why?

Reasons may include, for example

  • They lack confidence in their ability or worried they will make a mistake
  • They are approaching the task the wrong way
  • They are cutting corners or rushing things so making silly mistakes

Coaching may be the answer.

How is this different to training?

With coaching you are helping the team member to come up with their own solutions.

It can help people tap into what they already know and find their own solutions. So if someone is struggling to apply a new skill, or simply making mistakes with a task they’ve been able to do ok in the past, coaching might well be the answer to identify what’s standing in the way and how to improve performance.

Probably one of the most widely known coaching models is GROW.

GROW stands for GOAL, REALITY, OPTIONS and WILL

It is not appropriate for every situation, but can be used to great effect to tap into people’s existing knowledge and experience and develop potential.

It is based on the principle that the ‘coach’ asks questions and draws the answer from the ‘coachee’ or team member.

This leads to increased awareness, better buy in and commitment, increases confidence and is good development.

Goal

Setting the overall coaching objectives and the goals for the coaching session. Goals need to be SMART*. There may two types of goal – one long term goal, then a short term goal for this discussion. Goals need to focus on what will be observed or happening once it is achieved.

In the case of when someone’s performance has dropped the GOAL would be to raise the level of performance to the set standard. Help them identify what good looks like, which might include how if feels for them when they are achieving this. Watch out for abstract words such as ‘confidence‘ or ‘improve‘ as they are subjective; ensure you are both clear what these mean. (see ‘Fluff Busting’ article here)

Reality

Checking and raising awareness of the situation right now. This brings out the employee’s perception of the situation, which can sometimes be very different from the manager’s. It is important that you don’t make assumptions about what is happening, even if you think you already know! It is important to get a full a picture as possible about what is happening to get to the root of the problem.

Options

Finding alternative strategies, solutions, answers. This is usually the hardest part for the manager acting as coach, as it is all too easy to give the answers or make suggestions. This means the employee will continue to be dependent on you to come up with solutions and not have to think for themselves. It is far more rewarding for the employee to come up with their own solutions.

And they will be far more committed to acting on solutions that they themselves have identified

Will

There’s a big difference between saying what you CAN do and what you WILL do!

We’ve all been to meetings when there has been a lot of talk and ideas and then you meet again a few weeks later and nothing has happened. The same will happen following a coaching discussion if there is no summing up of the course of action, and commitment from the employee to take action.

So it’s important to test the team member’s commitment to action by making concrete, realistic plans to reach it. This may involve flushing out any barriers or concerns, so they don’t get in the way and become an excuse for failing to take action.

The GROW coaching model

This format works well for day to day discussions in supporting your team in their work, as well as more formal one to one discussions on performance, objective setting, and development planning. It also gives a structure to use in team meetings for group problem solving.

If you only do one thing:

Next time you have a discussion with one of your team on what they need to do to resolve a problem, before you just tell them what to do, stop and consider if they could come up with the solution themselves by exploring each of these 4 questions.

An alternative version of SMART goals 


Retraining

retraining

Retraining?  I was wrong about this

Firstly, to remind you my Managing Performance Masterclass is only a week away. Who in your management/supervisory team would benefit from support with how they manage the performance of their team?

When I worked in the corporate world I ran management development workshops nearly every week.

Every now and again I’d see a name on the delegate list that I not only recognised, but I knew full well they’d attended this workshop before.

And it annoyed me.

Because I believed if they’d attended it before and it hadn’t achieved the programme’s objectives, what was the point of retraining them and getting them to attend again. If they hadn’t put into practice what they’d learnt then, the chances were simply either this wasn’t the best way for this person to learn, or they didn’t get the opportunity, support and coaching they needed from their line manager to apply their learning.

But I was wrong about this, or at least partly wrong.

Although there may have been an element of truth in the possibility of a lack of support, or it not have been the best training method for them at the time, what I hadn’t taken into consideration was that, as observed by Heraclitus the Greek philosopher:

“No man ever steps in the same river twice,
for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”

In other words, when a manager came back to attend the same workshop again at a later date, the chances are they had by then got more experience and very likely were in a different situation. Even if their role hadn’t changed the chances were their team had, and they now had different circumstances affecting their team.

Just because someone has been trained in something before, doesn’t mean they don’t ever need that training again, albeit potentially in a different format.

So, if you’ve identified a development need for someone in your team, don’t fall into the same trap I did all those years ago. Listen out for some of these barriers which will prevent people being receptive to any retraining or coaching:

When you hear “I know this already”

  • Ask them to take you through what they know and how they apply this.
  • Ask what they are implementing and to give some specific examples.

When you hear “I do this already”

  • Again, ask for specific recent examples.
  • Ask, how well it’s working for them?
  • Review any bad habits they’ve picked up or short cuts they are making which is affecting the outcome.

Very often – as with many bad habits – they may not realise they’ve got into these habits until pointed out to them. (see Creating Conscious Incompetence video here) Highlight the impact that’s having and how it affects them personally. Only then are they likely to be receptive to further coaching or training.

Thinking specifically about managing performance, you or your managers may have received training or coaching on managing performance in the past. Review how successful that is right now.

  • Are all team members crystal clear on yours/your managers’ expectations?
  • Does everyone meet these expectations?
  • Are you/your managers proactive and monitor performance before it drops?
  • Are any shortfalls picked up and acted upon swiftly?
  • Are you/your managers confident in handling any tricky conversations?
  • Do team members respect you/your managers when discussing performance.
  • If shortfalls are discussed, do team members still come away from those discussions feeling positive and committed to improving.

If you’ve answered no to any of these questions the Managing Performance Masterclass next Tuesday could be just the answer to these. You might be on furlough or working with a skeleton team right now, but this masterclass will stand you in good stead for when you’re back to a full on operation.

 

If you only do one thing

Never assume because someone has received coaching or training in a subject that they are able to apply that learning – always look for evidence they can apply it, and ask, if there is anything holding them back in apply this, what that might be.


A question of questions ~ Question technique for managers

question technique

Mastering the art of question technique

Last week in the Managing Performance Workshop one of the skills we discussed that cropped up time and again was question technique.

As any self-respecting salesperson will tell you, question technique is a key skill in the sales process.

But it’s also a critical skill for managers too.

Why?

Because by asking good questions you can:

  • Check understanding
  • Create buy-in
  • Get people’s involvement
  • Discover the root cause of a problem
  • Understand someone else’s perspective
  • Find out what’s going on
  • Find out how your team are feeling
  • Learn from your mistakes
  • Help others learn from their own mistakes
  • Help put people at ease
  • Find out what’s important to others
  • Identify people’s expectations
  • Seek ideas for resolving problems
  • Check on people’s progress
  • Help people identify their own strengths
  • Help people identify their development needs
  • Encourage people to think things through for themselves
  • Encourage people to take responsibly
  • Help people open up to where they need help or support
  • Keep difficult conversations on track
  • Help people plan and prioritise
  • Get to know your team better
  • Build rapport

I could go on, but you get the idea…

Last week the emphasis was on asking questions in relation to managing performance, but the ability to ask good questions is also important in recruitment, in meeting customers’ expectations, in dealing with complaints, in coaching, so it’s a skill well worth developing.

Of course, the way you ask questions is also important; we don’t want team members (or customers) to feel like they are being interrogated.

Questions to open up the conversation

To get people talking use ‘open’ questions, starting with the words:

What, how, when, who, where, why, give me an example, or tell me about…..

This will encourage the team member to go into details and not answer yes/no.

However, “why?” is a question to use with caution; it can easily come across as judgemental if we’re not careful. Also asking someone why something happened can be too broad a question which they may not know the answer to. So, as an example, instead of asking “why did you do that?” ask questions along the lines of “what triggered your response?” or “what was your reasoning for approaching it in that way?”, “what had you hoped to achieve?”, “How did you decide?

In the context of managing performance, e.g. in a one to one review, here are some questions to ask:

  • General: What did you do, how did you do that, what results did you get, how has that helped you, what’s was the impact on the customer/team/department.
    .
  • If something worked out well: what did you do differently this time, what was the end result, how did that help others (business, colleagues, customer, etc), how will you build on this for next time.
    .
  • If it didn’t go well: how did you overcame the problem, how did that work, what have you learnt from this, what can you do/can we do to avoid it happening again, what will you do in future, what help do you need from me?
    .
  • If they’ve had a challenge: what do you think led to that, what have you done about it, what have you learnt, what support do you need from me?
    .
  • When planning forward: what will you focus on, how will that help you or others, what will you do first, when will you start, how will you know when it’s working, what milestones will there be, what obstacles could get in the way, how will you overcome these, when shall we review progress?

Listening to answers

Whilst mastering your question technique you’ll also need to listen well.

  • Build rapport by looking and showing you are listening, by maintaining eye contact, nodding and using open gestures.
    .
  • Avoid taking notes while they are talking.  If you need to keep a record of the conversation, you don’t need to document everything, just key points, so wait until they have finished, then make a note of the relevant key points or anything you want to come back to later.
    .
  • Watch for any hesitancy in their answers. If you’ve asked a tough question they may need time to think about it, so avoid jumping in before they’ve had a chance to do so.
    .
  • Avoid jumping to conclusions or making assumptions – if they don’t give you all the evidence you are looking for, or their answers don’t give you enough detail, follow up with more questions.
    .
  • Listen to what’s not been said too.
    .
  • Stem the flow of irrelevancies or hobby horses by interruptions like “I understand your point.” or “I can imagine”…. “So what can you do…?”
    .
  • Summarise their points (using their words) to show your understanding.
    .
  • Don’t be tempted to stick to pre-formulated questions; build the next question round the answer to the last.

Because we all filter or delete information, it can mean the information we receive or questions we ask very general or vague, making it difficult for others to fully understand the question, issue or action required. Often it is necessary to drill down to get specifics.

This can be the case when reviewing performance with team members. We might ask a question about a situation and they may be vague or ambiguous with their answers. We interpret their response in one way (and often make assumptions about the detail) when they mean something else. Or maybe they are being vague deliberately, as they don’t have any details to give!

For example: you ask someone how they are getting on with a task you have asked them to complete by the end of the week. When you ask them on Wednesday how they are getting on they answer “Fine”. What does that mean? Does it mean they’ve nearly finished; that they are just half way though; that they have started it but waiting for some information from someone else; that they are stuck, but too shy to ask for help; or they haven’t even started yet?

This is when we may need to do some “Fluff Busting” and I’ve written about that here.

Take action and practise your question technique

If you only do one thing:

Next time you ask one of your team for an update ask specific questions so you come away knowing exactly where they are up to.

video: Understand your customers and team by asking quality questions..



Managing Performance

managing performance

It’s that time of year again when the acorns are falling, and the squirrels are stocking up for winter.

But, what’s the connection between acorns and managing performance?

Having several large oak trees in my garden I know only too well what can happen to acorns if you leave them on the ground. Either the squirrels bury them, or they get covered over by leaves, and before you know it you have a small forest of oak saplings.

And not too easy to pull up once they’ve got their roots down.

So, the connection with managing performance?

Dealing with performance is a bit like picking up acorns.

If you pick up on problems early enough they can’t “germinate”. But left to fester they become much harder to deal with.

I often find junior or inexperienced managers in particular tend to avoid dealing with poor performance.

Below are 10 principles you can share with them to give them support, but if your team would benefit from some more in depth guidance, this is what I’ll be covering on my Managing Performance Workshop next week.

It’s 3 bite size session of 90 minutes each, over 3 consecutive days (Monday 21st – Wednesday 23rd), and designed with junior managers and supervisors in mind (although any managers who shy away from dealing with performance would benefit).

And if you register before 16th September  you’ll benefit from the early bird rates.

So, what are the 10 principles?

  1. Set expectations, so everyone in the team knows what’s expected of them and why
  2. Be consistent so there are no mixed messages
  3. Address any issues straight away
  4. Conduct regular 1:1’s with team members where you can review performance and any support that’s needed
  5. When feeding back on performance stick to facts, not your interpretation of the facts.
  6. Recognise not all performance shortfalls are down to the individual – there may be other factors at play beyond their control
  7. Use the ‘3E’ structure (i’ll be covering this in detail next week)
  8. Focus on the end result. Your goal is to resolve the issue and improve performance in future
  9. Be mindful of your tone and language
  10. Recognise that failing to take any action about poor performance sends the message to everyone else that it’s OK

Of course, every business should have its own disciplinary process, and I am not suggesting by-passing that. But if you nip issues in the bud hopefully you won’t need to get as far as the disciplinary process.

Take Action on performance

If you only do one thing. Share this list with your junior managers and supervisors and give them the support they need to nip poor performance problems in the bud.

p.s. Book before Wednesday 16th and get the Early Bird Offer of £27 per
person or £97 for a group booking (up to 5 attendees).
After this date registration will be £47 per person or £197 for up to 5
attendees from the same business. (All prices subject to VAT)

Book here now to get the benefit of the early bird:
https://www.naturallyloyal.com/resources/managing-performance-workshop/

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