Making performance management work for you

  • April 6, 2016
  • /   Shannon Nickinson
  • /   training-development

Calling people skills "soft skills" is a bit of false advertising.

"Leadership is hard," said Quint Studer as he opened a training workshop on Performance Management on April 6 at the Jean & Paul Amos Performance Studio at Pensacola State College. "Supervision is hard. Giving people feedback is hard.

"But it's the aspect of helping people improve" that is important to keep in mind," Studer said. "Only 8 percent of feedback is negative. I want to focus on the 92 percent of the feedback that you'll give that is positive."

Performance Management is part of a continuing series of workshops for small businesses, nonprofits and other groups hosted by the Studer Community Institute. Some 450 people registered for the workshop from 220 different organizations are represented.

More than 200 organizations are in the Jean & Paul Amos Performance Studio at WSRE at Pensacola State College. Credit: Shannon Nickinson

More than 200 organizations are in the Jean & Paul Amos Performance Studio at WSRE at Pensacola State College. Credit: Shannon Nickinson

Studer said building a culture of feedback and continuous improvement is never easy — and is always evolving.

"It's easy to think, who are we to give feedback when we're not doing it perfectly?" Studer said.

The session includes advice about how to start the feedback loop early on so that you can keep things in your organization from getting to the point where you have to have the "difficult conversation" that might include letting someone go.

Structured coaching can, Studer said:

— Retain high performers.

— Retain and develop those who meet expectations but need more help.

— Provide clear feedback to employees who won’t meet expectations.

When you make a change, always explain the Why. New behaviors are scary to people, Studer said. When you do something different, explain why you’re doing it.

For leaders and supervisors, Studer said, this can be especially challenging, in no small part because it forces you to hold up the mirror and look at your own behavior, and to be open to feedback yourself from your peers and from those who work for you.

Other highlights included:

— Don’t take the high performer for granted, Studer warned. They have options and will exercise them if they feel their current work atmosphere is inefficient, impersonal, or not meeting their needs to improve their own skills.

— Only 48 percent of employees who aren’t meeting expectations have documentation that shows that. Starting the paper trail is a crucial step toward helping employees who aren't getting it improve — and for documenting why those who can't or won't improve shouldn't stay.

— Begin the feedback loop by explaining what you’re doing, starting with the high performers. General compliments can backfire. Specific feedback is the best thing to do.

Go here for quick video lessons on Quint Studer’s leadership tips to learn more and share the knowledge.

“Potential is nice, but it’s not going to get you there,” Studer said.

The next Studer Community Institute training workshop is Making Your Next Presentation Bulletproof with Daniel Pennington on April 26. Click here for more information.