Interactions with people related to work performance occur on a daily basis for most managers. We get work accomplished through these interactions, which happen with varying degrees of success. Some of these performance related discussions leave those involved feeling inspired, focused and prepared to take action. Others leave people feeling befuddled, confused, and wondering what is expected to happen next.
As managers in the new business normal, it is up to us to drive these performance conversations so that they are purposeful and direct performance in a way that gets the intended results. Here is my definition of a successful performance interaction:
A successful performance interaction is one that results in purposeful action and progress and where people follow basic principles of human behavior.
A key part of a successful performance interaction is one that results in purposeful action and progress. So, what does that mean?
To understand that, it helps to first realize that the reason we have interactions with people about performance is to get work done. That means these performance discussions are about getting results. Successful interactions provide the impetus for people to take purposeful actions that lead to progress.
Successful performance interactions result in purposeful action…but not just any action is considered purposeful. Purposeful action is about making decisions and taking actions that are consistent with the attainment of desired individual and organizational outcomes. Purpose is about identifying and pursuing the outcomes needed. Action is about focusing the effort and taking the steps needed to get there.
This happens as people make choices and decisions that spur on action for which they are accountable. As managers, we are responsible for working with our team members to help them establish action steps to take that will get the results needed. We then must follow-up and hold them accountable for commitments they make.
This leads to the part of the performance interaction that addresses progress, which is essential for so many reasons. First, progress is about moving forward or onward toward a destination or goal. It’s about action that gets us somewhere we desire to go. Progress helps us reach our individual and organizational goals and to attain the outcomes we seek.
Second, our need to feel a sense of progress cannot be overestimated and it is a driver for future action. The topic of progress is getting an enormous amount of attention from successful business people and thought leaders who recognize the motivational value that progress provides. As we interact with our team members, it is incumbent upon us as managers to help them recognize and celebrate their progress when it has been made, and to press them on for progress that is still needed.
Successful performance interactions with people help us as managers to accomplish work and get results. As we continue to develop our ability to engage in successful discussions about performance, we will improve our own individual performance and future success in the new business normal.
What has been your experience in engaging in discussions with people about performance?