Honestly asking ….. “How am I really showing up”?
As leaders, we focus a lot on how our employees are performing. Organizations expect top notch performance from all employees and expect leaders to act on failing performance quickly as ithere is so much at stake. Most organizations have a rigorous Performance Review process where managers and employees discuss past performance, future organizational and personal goals, and identify areas for improvement if required. There are many opportunities for leaders and employees to regularly give and receive feedback about their performance, and some take full advantage of these opportunities, and others pass up on this valuable opportunity.
Then there is BEING a leader. Leaders are held to a higher standard and sometimes their performance is tightly scrutinized. They are not exempt from receiving feedback about their performance by their superior or Senior Management team who they report to, but sometimes this level of performance review or feedback is sporadic and “on the fly”. It is assumed that leaders have a full grasp of their role and that they can be relied upon to deliver and lead their teams effectively.
Well, leaders don’t know everything. There is always so much more to learn about leading people effectively while balancing the demands of meeting organizational objectives. In this new era of younger workers many are new to leadership while at the same time developing their skills and knowledge, some are leading teams without having previous experience or leadership training, or they have come from technical backgrounds and struggle with “letting go” of the hands-on work. And there are established leaders who are in a formal succession plan as they aspire to grow into a higher position. Simply stated many leaders find it challenging to find the time and/or confidence to make a real connection with their team members and regularly discuss performance and engagement. There are many of these scenarios in business, and while leaders do or do not have opportunities to have constructive feedback discussions with their own boss, rarely do they closely critique their own performance before it is critiqued by others.
Leaders would value taking a moment to periodically self-reflect and ask “how am I showing up to my organization and my people?”. We know that getting the work done is important, but how the work is getting done is critical. When leaders are self aware they know their strengths, beliefs and biases (their triggers for particular emotions), what motivates them, and the areas where they need to improve (and proactively take the necessary actions). Additionally, being more self aware allows leaders to identify these same characteristics in others and connect with them at a deeper level.
In the work that we do with our clients we discuss the Conditions that are foundational to great performance. We help organizations and leaders identify their talents, strengths, and pitfalls and apply new strategies where required. We can apply these same Conditions when reflecting on our own performance and leadership. There are some powerful questions that we can ask ourselves:
- Do I Know What to do? Do I know what is truly expected of me, my technical performance and behavioral expectations? Have the discussions with my boss about these expectations been clear and concise, with no assumptions, and we are aligned with these expectations? If not, what are my next steps to get this clarity? What are the metrics/measurements in place to evaluate my performance? What am I willing to change to meet these expectations?
- Am I Able to do it? Am I capable of performing this work? Do I posses the personal attributes, traits and characteristics to be successful? Do I know what they are? Is there a good “fit” with my skills and knowledge to meet the performance expectations? If not, what growth areas are required in the short and/or long term? How can I proactively declare this gap and ask for help?
- Am I Equipped to do it? Do I have the resources, knowledge of business processes and procedures, and systems to effectively do my job? Do I receive timely information that influences my performance? Do I know what my peers and other departments that I work with do and how we are expected to work together? Who do I need to collaborate with to better understand and fully contribute to better work flow and communication?
- Do I Want to do it? This is the burning question!!! We know that great performance happens when people are willing to hold themselves accountable for quality work and achieving agreed upon results. Is this the work that I want to do? Do I have the interest and energy to do this work? Does this work meet my needs and provide me satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment? Do I need to reconsider what role is best suited to meet my needs, interests, and strengths? If not today, when, and how can I be energized in the meantime?
- Do I have Interactions that are positive and constructive? Do I foster a respectful workplace, productive relationships, and have a profound impact on performance outcomes? Am I truly accountable to contribute to the cause or do I find myself letting others take control in the areas that I need to? What steps can I take to improve relationships? What barriers do I need to overcome to achieve this?
Leadership isn’t about being perfect, but it is about having the ability to check our ego at the door and honestly evaluate how we are performing for our organizations and our people, and knowing what steps need to be taken to improve. Honest self evaluation is a good start, and many leaders utilize a variety of tools to obtain supporting information, such as 360 feedback surveys for growth and development, using the Performance Review process to engage in constructive conversations, and developing stronger feedback-rich relationships with other leaders, peers, and direct reports.
We are the master of our own destiny, and saying nothing and struggling is not an option, at least not one that will produce a good outcome. There is always room to learn and improve, and the sky is the limit. Support is available to improve leadership, and can be achieved by working with a Leadership Coach, partnering with a Mentor, or working closely with senior leaders and executives to build skills and knowledge. So much is in the power of intentional conversation!
Always, we are here to help our colleagues. We want your feedback, comments and questions about your Performance Management experience. If you have any questions about how these Performance Improvement concepts can be applied to your work group and/or your organization, please let us know and we will be happy to assist.
We want to write about on-demand topics. Please drop us a note if you have any topics of interest and we will work to incorporate this information into our newsletter series.
What’s next? Our next newsletter will be released in December and we will talk about Leaders: How to Establish your Place in a High Performance Team.
All the best as you enter into the busy Holiday Season!