Like a coach in pro sports, your primary function as a manager is to improve the performance of your team.
Unfortunately, traditional approaches to performance management may have initial success, but are difficult to sustain.
When distilled out of their packaging traditional performance management looks like:
- What did the manager before me do? – AKA the “hope and pray” approach. Typically used by a manager who is either a) unprepared to be thrust into a managerial role or b) told to “hold the line” by their boss. The problem with this approach is their team will succeed or fail in spite of this manager, not because of them.
- What’s the opposite of what the manager before me did? – AKA the “change agent” approach. Typically used by managers brought in to “shake things up.” The problem with this approach is it assumes the entire team is broken, so this manager loses their “C” players, who can’t keep up with the changes this manager implements and their “A” players, who feel they are being punished for the failures of their colleagues.
- What did my manager do to me? – AKA the “doomed to repeat history” approach. As children learn “how” to behave by watching their parents, future managers learn “how” to manage from their current managers. Now either this manager liked how they were managed and mimics their former manager’s style or they disliked how they were managed so they manage opposite their former manager’s style. Typically used by managers with no previous managerial experience or who are in a newly created role so they can’t use approach 1 or 2, like entrepreneurs. The problem with either side of this approach is it doesn’t consider the team that this manager currently manages.
All of those approaches will provide varying degrees of initial success.
The challenge with sustaining that success is your most valuable asset as a manager is your time.
Without a performance management system in place, you will eventually get sucked into a time vortex created by your mid- and low-performing team members, who require constant supervision and re- training.
The alternative is to implement a performance management system that a) empowers team members to perform at their highest level and b) gives you time back in your week so you can focus on coaching and mentoring you team.
An effective performance management system has three parts.
- Funnel management – specifically, break your process (sales, operations, customer service, human resources) into parts and assign, or better yet using historical data to assign, percentages between each stage that show how many “inputs” (e.g., first calls to prospects) are needed to create how many “outputs” (e.g., closed sales). A great funnel management system also contains checklists for each stage that must be completed before advancing to the next stage. By creating a funnel management process you will get time back in your week because your team won’t waste your time with “special requests” to skip a step in your process (e.g., asking for a discount off your rate card)
- Weekly behavior plan – at Sandler a weekly behavior plan is called a “cookbook.” A cookbook is created by each team member, approved by you, and contains all of the behaviors they need to do on a daily or weekly basis to perform in their role (e.g., number of prospecting calls, meetings with prospects, networking events, etc.) with a target assigned to each behavior. By implementing a cookbook program you will get time back in your week because your team will have a common language to tell you what they plan to accomplish and what they did accomplish.
- Personalized development plan – without a development plan personalized to each member of your team, you will spend a lot of time working, as David Sandler said, “on the wrong end of the problem.” Even your stars who nail the first two parts of your performance management system will eventually fall, or become dissatisfied and leave, if you don’t provide them with a unique development path. The best development plans are created by third parties, either consultant’s or research-based surveys like the Devine Inventory because they significantly reduce or remove entirely the bias we have to lie on evaluation forms.
Successfully implementing this performance management system is a good start, but stopping there would be like stopping after building the foundation of your house.
In Part 2, we’ll tackle on of the biggest time wasters on your calendar and a dreaded part of your team’s year
– their performance review. Stay tuned.
Hamish Knox is a Sandler Trainer based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.