The inspiration for this blog post stems from a common situation of employers. They confided that their best managers were doing a lot of extra work (which was good), but their efforts didn’t align with the overall business goals. So, what could be the possible reasons for this?
It became clear that they had a team of driven, ambitious managers, but there was something missing — a performance framework encouraging such overachievers to produce work rewarding themselves and the company. Without a clear performance framework, managers can be frustrated by their annual review. At school, it is easy to be above average; people could get A’s by completing their homework and doing well on tests. However, in the corporate world, doing only what’s expected, even well, gets you average at best.
It’s important that managers know how to find things to do that are important, with a clear business impact, but not urgent or assigned to someone else, and do those in addition to their usual assignments. They need guidance on how to overachieve at their job.
As a manager and leader in your organisation, it is important to provide the tools that managers need to overachieve at their jobs.
Here are 4 steps to help you get there.
1. Help managers understand their strengths.
When was the last time you felt great about a project or task at work?
People feel good when they have the chance to work on things that they can complete successfully or tasks that they are good at. When managers are able to master their work and complete things autonomously, they derive more satisfaction in their work.
For higher positions such as managers, this means getting to know individuals and developing an approach to assigning work and recognising progress that will inspire each person to do his or her best. When you truly understand a manager’s aspirations and personal goals, you can better align them with critical business goals, achieving a synergy that benefits both sides.
2. Set a clear but SMART working goal
As part of their reviews, or even as part of regular check-ins (such as one-on-one meetings, or project goals) managers should have a clear list of their working goals. Each of the goals should have a clear connection to the company’s purpose and objectives.
Goals should be SMART. Every goal should be written down with a clear definition and deadline. Each working goal should have a plan for success, but managers should also have the chance to define their path of execution. This empowers the manager to define and set his or her own objectives, then work toward those in a concrete and measurable way.
3. Review their goals regularly (monthly or quarterly).
For working goals to be useful, they must be monitored and tracked. Examination of failures and successes related to performance often reveals potential opportunities for manager growth. This process helps managers see you as a personal coach in their success. You need to show up at practice, too — if you show up only to games, you become the referee, someone there to keep score.
In these reviews, make sure you evaluate the manager’s progress against a predetermined set of objectives; this type of monitoring can head off trouble early.
Here are some great questions to spur conversation.
What went well?
What could have been improved?
How can these lessons be applied to projects or personal development objectives going forward?
Because most managers are busy, having managers write up answers to these questions before the meeting makes the review more fruitful and effective.
4. Reward and recognise progress and achievements.
Positive reinforcement is a critical part of any motivational strategy. So a key component of regular working goal reviews should be the recognition of notable achievements, progress and improvements. Giving praise verbally in the meeting is appropriate, but when possible, it can also be nice to do a little more. If you have the luxury and budget, small monetary or physical gifts are great ways to recognize bigger achievements.
There are many techniques to incentivize managers to go above and beyond; these are only some tips to get you started. Whatever processes you choose for your company, ensure that your managers know what exactly it means to exceed, that expectations of them are clear and that their achievements are celebrated in a way most rewarding to them.
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