The lessons I have learned in terms of how leaders maximize employee performance are numerous and valid, but I think I have narrowed them down to just two.
Here they are . . .
I once worked for a remarkable man who was very skilled at the English language. What do I mean by that?
His style of leadership and the coaching he would administer to his employees were such that after hecandidly explainedhis position, I was inspired and excited, and heard the “criticism” as nothing but positive feedback.
I have never since experienced such a tremendous leadership skill where I took direct criticism that was so eloquently executed and wonderfully inspiring.
There are leaders who are not well respected at all. They might get the job done, but there is an eventual price that will come around in terms of how they have treated others along the way. One particular person I knew intermittently throughout the years was this kind of guy. He certainly got the job done: financial results were always on target, costs were down, sales were up.
His leadership style eventually caught up to him though. The treatment he levied on his employees was despicable. His handling of the company’s suppliers was atrocious. He treated customers with threats to cut off shipments if they did not exclude his competition from selling to them.
Once his board of directors caught up to speed with him, and despite his excellent financial results, he was fired and even today remains banished from his industry as a pariah.
Compliments and Feedback
Is it that hard to tell an employee who has done a great job at something, “Well done!”? Really?
Judicious usage of well-intentioned and meaningful compliments to people who are doing really good things for the company should be dished out genuinely and regularly.
Someone not doing things up to your standards?
Read one section above about the leader who dealt out coaching advice so well that it left me breathless with inspiration and determination to get better.
Leaders have to love people. If you are a people lover, your charisma and positive outlook will draw in people like magnets. They will want to be around you, want to interact with you, want your attention.
You need to be the type of leader who recognizes what is good about people and the good in what they do.
The great leaders have bite marks on their tongues; instead of blurting out criticism incessantly, they focus on the other person’s strengths and manage around their weaknesses. This type of leader instills self-esteem, worth, and confidence to others, and that leaves them feeling better about themselves than before.
Why is this so hard for some leaders to understand?
I think it is insecurity in the leadership position and self-centered behavior. Perhaps telling employees they are doing a great job will cause them to seek a raise? Ask for more vacation time? Ask for a promotion. Well, these are not all necessarily bad things employees can ask for, especially if they are doing a standout job.
Research consistently tells us that as many as 80% of employees are dissatisfied with their jobs, and the chief reason is that they feel underappreciated. They get NO FEEDBACK from their managers.
How can a really good leader let this happen?
When an employee is not delivering as expected, that is when deliberate coaching and communication should be taking place. The worst thing you can have happen is when you terminate someone and they do not have a clue as to why.
That is when you have not only let the person down, but you have let the company and yourself down, as well. That is where a failure to communicate has occurred and a failure to provide candid feedback to someone who is clearly struggling comes into play.
If the employee’s skills and productivity are lacking, well, that is where you as a leader step in; you find ways to apply your skills and expertise to teach the employee how to do things better.
As a leader, people are depending on you for feedback. They want your expertise, your advice, and they want to do better at their job. So give them the attention and coaching they want to receive!