We have all witnessed flaring tempers at one time or another and as troubling as raw aggression can be, it is important to separate it conceptually from productive conflict. Depending on culture and upbringing, many of us grew up learning that conflict is always destructive and should be avoided. But as with most moral truisms, the reality may not be so black and white. Managers need to understand the advantages of constructive conflict so that they can actively nurture it within their teams. In fact, some experts argue that collaboration cannot happen without conflict.
It is widely known that employees with a positive mind-set are more creative, productive, and engaged. Positivity is nurtured within cultures that encourage the sharing of praise and support between all employees, not just between managers and their direct reports. This can be accomplished in both structured and unstructured ways.
Traditionally, performance feedback has been given in structured reviews occurring either annually or just a few times per year. Instant communication is more ubiquitous than ever and younger workers not only expect rapid feedback, they also want it to be continuous. Asking employees to wait for an annual conversation to receive performance feedback creates frustration and anxiety. It also dramatically delays the resolution of issues, creating productivity bottlenecks due to the extra hours spent writing, receiving, or delivering annual self-assessments and reviews. Many well-known firms like GE and Microsoft are moving away from the annual review and embracing more ongoing, fluid feedback processes.
Setting clear business performance goals helps employees understand how their contributions will be measured while developmental goals have a direct impact on retention and long-term performance. Both are important, but they are set and measured differently. Business goals vary by industry and role and are typically set in a top-down fashion. For example, a sales quota is typically non-negotiable and is set by departmental leadership. When it comes to developmental goals, employees can be more involved in the process. In terms of measurement, business goals tend to be straightforward whereas developmental milestones may need more nuance. Below are some best practices and tools for inspiring and supporting employees to go beyond hitting their numbers.
Many common goal-setting practices do more to distract and discourage than inspire and energize. Ask a random sampling of your friends if they feel motivated by the goal-setting process at work and you might get an earful. For some the process is micromanaged with too many hyper-specific goals set by management, or it may be so loose and unstructured that employees have no sense of how their work directly impacts the bottom line. Add to that the omission of personal development goals, and you have a recipe for poor motivation, stagnant performance, and retention challenges.
Giving helpful feedback is an art and a science and it can be learned. Perhaps the most important lesson about giving feedback is that one size does not fit all. Rather, giving feedback is a dynamic process that depends on the skill level of the recipient, the relationship between giver and receiver, and even when, where and how the feedback is given. If this sounds a bit complicated, take comfort. There are just a few ingredients for a feedback process that fosters engagement and developmental growth, and with practice it will become second nature.
Goal setting has long been considered a cornerstone of any high-functioning organization. However, recent research has shown that when done improperly it can do more harm than good. Unless goal setting focuses on the most important aspects of work, it inevitably detracts from them. Many organizations perpetuate the “more is more” mentality when it comes to setting goals but even the most talented executives will buckle under the weight of too many competing objectives. In the absence of manageable and clearly prioritized goals, there is a tendency to focus on what is immediately at hand rather than what matters most long term. This can spell disaster for the bottom line and employee well-being and performance.
Google the definition of a goal and you will find this: “the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result.” An intention. As a manager, your role is to shape the intentions for each team member to deliver the results required for the individual, team and company to succeed. For this reason, it is important to be mindful of how you can leverage clear goal-setting to better manage your employees.
We recently attended a riveting meet-up in NYC focused on HR Analytics. Titled, “A new experience: Events of the Future”, the meetup consisted of three group debates around emerging topics in HR. Though most of the participants came from the Enterprise HR world, the themes discussed lend themselves to teams of any size.
In an earlier post, we discussed the challenges with employee one-on-ones and briefly touched upon tips for structuring the discussion. One of the most effective styles of employee one-on-ones leverages the continue-start-stop management technique. You’ll find lots of management-consulting worksheets around this methodology, but here is how it can work more casually at your startup.
We have been discussing the importance of employee one-on-ones, especially for newly formed and growing teams. Establishing a consistent rhythm and measuring their effectiveness can be challenging. If you manage teams, and you’re holding meetings with your direct reports, look out for these 5 warning signs that your one-on-ones are broken.
In our last post, we discussed 10 common challenges that surface while holding employee one-on-ones, and tips for overcoming them. But why have them? Particularly in young startups, where roles are ill-defined and responsibilities change frequently, they help ensure alignment and a shared commitment to real-time professional development. We are firm believers in the value of holding regular 1:1’s with your direct reports, and this is why they work…
One-on-one (1:1) meetings between a manager and direct report are a growing trend in companies today, highly prevalent in the tech and start-up community. They are an excellent opportunity for managers to have an open-ended conversation with the members of their team. Turning the 1:1 into an effective growth accelerator comes with its challenges. Let’s explore 10 of the most common challenges we hear from managers attempting to 1:1 with their teams.