How to be a Better People Manager part 1 – recognise employees for their work
We seem to have got better at recognising people as individuals at work. This has partly been driven by legislation; the requirement to consider flexible working arrangements, the removal of the default retirement age that has us talking to employees about their plans and the ‘isms’ that make us think about the impact of our decisions on protected characteristics such as gender, age etc.
There is often now a call from employees to recognise them for the work that they do not for recognising them as individuals.
In How to be a Better People Manager part 1 we consider 6 processes that you can build into your team management to improve the way in which you recognise people for the work that they do.
- Define your expectations
- Explain how you want people to do their jobs, what are the values and principles that you want to see displayed in how your team members work.
- Give an insight into where you want your team to head and what that will do for the context in which each employee work
- Decide what role/tasks each person will undertake to get the team where it needs to go
- Communicate Expectations
- You must be clear about what your expectations. It might seem like ‘old hat’ but SMART objectives work because, done properly, they should clearly articulate your expectations to the employee, eliminating any confusion.
- Check understanding of your message. Don’t ask “do you understand?”, too often you will get the answer “yes” but the end result is clear, their understanding was different to yours! Use active listening techniques and paraphrasing to drill down into the employee’s understanding so that you can correct any mis-matches in the message given to the message received.
- Having clarified you both understand what you are asking for, write down those expectations that you have for each person so that you both have a copy.
- Explain how you will monitor progress.
- Identify any training needs
- If the employee doesn’t have the skills or knowledge needed to deliver your expectations you are setting them up to fail. Take the time to talk through with the employee their assessment of their ability to deliver what you have asked for.
- Remember training doesn’t always have to cost money and it certainly doesn’t have to be the responsibility of the employer to ‘feed’ the employee with training. Help the employee identify where they may get exposure to the skills and knowledge they need within the business; it could be meeting with a particular colleague to understand a joint aspect of the objective, it could be reading up on a product or a service, it could be undergoing additional training on a management information system from a colleague.
- Set a date by which the training should be complete, especially if the knowledge and skills are key to the objective being delivered on time.
- Monitor Progress
- The old saying “what gets measured gets done” is very true. If an employee knows that you will be monitoring progress and what you expect them to report on they will pay attention to delivering.
- Have a number of pre-planned monitoring milestones where you meet with the employee. Tell the employee up front what information you expect them to bring to each meeting. It’s not an exam. There’s no merit in firing random questions at an employee on progress. The aim is to achieve the objective. Progress monitoring is designed to maintain momentum towards the goal and keep the employee engaged and committed to its delivery.
- Review Performance
- Hold a formal review of performance against target and prepare yourself for this meeting. Do your homework so that you know what has been achieved and what hasn’t before you go into the meeting.
- It’s the employee’s review, make sure that you allow them to do more talking than you in this meeting. Remember you have two ears and one mouth, use them in that proportion!! Ask the employee to take you through the project / piece of work that they’ve been doing and what they delivered and when.
- Ask the employee a question “If you had to do this piece of work again tomorrow is there anything that you would do differently?”. You are helping the employee reflect constructively on their own performance, helping them to learn from their experience. But asking this question also gives you an insight into the employee’s perception of whether they did well or not. It’s surprising how many employees deliver an objective on time and to the required standard but still criticise themselves for not achieving.
- Give Feedback
- What’s your perception of how well the employee met the objective given?
- Before you open your mouth to pronounce judgement, stop and think! It’s all too easy to focus on things that didn’t work out quite as planned. It might seem corny but the “feedback sandwich” is a helpful way to recognise achievement and to address areas that maybe didn’t go as planned. If you’ve let the employee talk in the review meeting (see above) it’s quite likely they have already identified the areas that weren’t quite right so you raising them shouldn’t be a huge shock to them.
- If you’re giving negative feedback remember to focus on facts not your opinion and focus on moving forward i.e. you have to understand the past to understand the present.
- If you’re going to give negative feedback, firstly be clear about what your role was in making sure that objectives were met. What did you do/not do to ensure that the objective was on target for delivery? You can’t abdicate the middle part of this process, cancelling progress reviews which would flag up early warnings of things not going quite to plan, and then blame the employee for failing to deliver.
- Say thank you! If it’s done in a formal meeting and connected to the work that they’ve done most employees will feel that they have been recognised for the work that they’ve done.
When you’ve done all this, sit down and reflect on your own performance. How to be a better people manager is about reflecting on our own management style and honestly identifying where we could have done things differently. If we’re not honest with ourselves about our part in managing employees the very people that we manage will quickly label us, and in not a very complimentary way!
Other advice from Metis HR that may be of interest to you
Metis HR is a professional HR Consultancy based in the North West of England supporting clients across the country. We specialise in providing outsourced HR services to small and medium-sized businesses. Call us now on 01706 565332 to discuss how we may help you.