Performance He Created

Two and a half years ago, a group of HR practitioners and bloggers took a chance on me, this rookie blogger that was trying to find his place in the game. After only being in the HR social media space and blogging world or a few months, having anyone notice me, yet alone reach out to ask me to participate in anything, was quite the shock. Thankfully, along with a few of the other contributors, Chris Ponder decided that I would be a fit for the team at Performance I Create.

71775_440045768806_2649634_nI didn’t know what to expect, especially since I was the new kid on the block. To help ease me into the group, Ponder (as we affectionately call em) opened up every line of communication to me in case I had concerns, questions, or if I just felt the need to talk ideas through. His openness and his ability to come up with important, relevant and timely HR topics helped to provide a structure for me that I didn’t have at that particular time in my career, especially because of the what I was doing professionally.

Ponder’s ideas, organization and leadership helped me not only write my pieces for PIC, but for this site as well. Because of PIC’s structure, I learned that I could express myself in writing in both formal and informal ways. I believe that it was this balance that enabled me to make a little name for myself in the HR and social media space…growing ruHRelevant, networking with more practitioners at various SHRM conferences and ultimately becoming a “veteran” among our outstandingly thorough and thought-provoking troop.

I am happy that Chris Ponder is finally able to explore things now that he couldn’t previously because of his time commitment to Performance I Create, but I’d be lying if I said that his decision to move on from the site didn’t make me a little sad.

I find comfort now in knowing that the team that he helped to assemble is a determined and strong one…one that will take Ponder’s vision of Performance I Create and build on it. While we were working to improve performance in the workplace, Ponder helped to create performance in me as this site stretched me to do things I didn’t really know I was capable of. Because of the outlet he created, I know that we will continue to grow and Create Performance, 500-800 words at a time.

Please continue to support me and my PIC family at Performance I Create; as our best is definitely yet to come. Thank you to Chris Ponder for everything you’ve done for me, the Human Resources profession and the entire social media space and blogasphere!

#ThanksPonder

Forget HR! I’m Going To Work For Starbucks

Is the grass always greener on the other side? Not necessarily. But I can tell you when it comes to employee incentives, benefits and having executive advocates, the coffee may be stronger and sweeter on the other side…at Starbucks.

forget-hr-im-going-to-work-for-starbucks-a3da2Today I’m over at Performance I Create discussing how retention is no longer just about pay…it’s about emotion, support and advocacy. Once you find good employees, they have to be invested in, not just given stuff…as stuff fades away. Here’s a quick sample:

…most employees would be thrilled to even know that a President or CEO took the time to consider doing something for them…even if it couldn’t necessarily happen. Feeling like an employer is going to bat for them makes a huge difference in the way employees view the company. And those considerations and those thoughts go much further than just throwing some empty, non-relevant award someone’s way.

I hope that you enjoy the full post HERE and I asked that you share this post with any decision maker that may be struggling to keep great employees.

Check out my post and those of my fellow contributors for relevant, in-your-face, performance altering insight at Performance I Create!

Workplace Astigmatism

For the last 10 years, I’ve boasted that my vision has not changed. I laugh at optometrists when I walk into their examination rooms because I know that the result is going to be the same…”Well Mr. Harris, everything is fine…no difference…here’s your prescription.” to which I say buttholishly, “I know! Told ya things are the same.”

eye-exam-checkupBecause of this status quo, I take eye exams for granted; only going when I actually need new glasses due to wear and tear…which is like every 5 years. I actually get tired of putting myself (and my money) out there to have my time wasted…until my visit a week ago.

This trip I entered confidently as I usually do, preparing my normal giggle and forming my mouth to say my usual know-it-all words, until Dr. Eyedude says, “Your right eye has changed. We’re going to switch your prescription and it may be a little drastic.”

When you think that nothing has changed, everything has

Not having had to look through “different” lenses for so long, I found myself being uncomfortable on my way home. The change was making my head hurt. Things were blurry. I didn’t like it. Was it because it was unexpected? Was it because something was different? Was it because it was unwelcomed? Maybe it was because I had gotten too comfortable. Too used to knowing what everything looked like and how everything was supposed to feel. The moment a new process was introduced, a new person was brought aboard, a new policy took effect…wait, am I describing your office or my eyes? Hmm? Maybe both.

As we get older, more experienced, more tenured, we must face the inevitable fact that things must and will change. Our vision, our surroundings, and the ways our businesses must operate all change. We can either roll with it, adjust or we can resist and remain in denial. That denial stems from the fact that we think things are fine just the way they are and we think that if we don’t acknowledge it, it’ll just go away.

Resistance to change can be costly

If I had paid regular attention, not been so arrogant and stubborn, maybe a drastic change could have been avoided or eased into. The gradual change would’ve helped me to make better adjustments. Being open to changes in the way our companies must do business will help our employees make better decisions as it relates to the new normals. Maybe they need regular examinations and consultation…I mean evaluations and one-on-ones…so that any issues can be identified early before they become problematic and cost us in the end.

What’s better? One or two? Two or three?

The next day, I could see things better. The headache had gone away. Those moments of temporary discomfort turned into my new, clearer reality. It took me getting broken down and taken out of my cocky comfort zone to realize that acceptance, flexibility and acknowledgement helped the headaches to go away and for things to seem clear again. I had to be humbled by the fact that I don’t know how bad things are until someone shows me something better, different, clearer.

Does your job give you “headaches”? Is it them or is it you refusing to adapt? 

Let’s not wait until it’s too late to let someone check us out. Let’s take some feedback and let it make us better. Let’s understand that us becoming more seasoned is when more changes need to occur…as opposed to things always having to change to our liking. Yielding to necessary adjustments may be blurry at first, but it can ultimately help you to see your vision more clearly in the end.

Make Good Business Decisions, Not Popular Ones

I believe that the most difficult part of being a true leader is the ability to make the tough call even when it meets resistance. Do we tell people untruths to avoid hurting their feelings? Do we avoid negative but necessary feedback in order to keep people “engaged”? Yeah, it happens all of the time…and at the same time it’s doing that person a disservice as they don’t know that they need to do better and our places of business suffer from a false sense of success.

Today I am over at Performance I Create, where we dive a little deeper into the issue of worrying more about image than the true success of those we are chosen to lead. Here is a quick sample:

whatrightnot-easy…those in power want to seem like heroes/heroines and good guys, but we must be careful not to make critical business moves based on popularity alone. The temporary spike in popularity will crash even harder when the audience sees that the promises can’t be fulfilled or that the decision has actually made things worse. My advice to decision makers is simple…

I hope that you enjoy the full post HERE and I asked that you share this post with anyone that you know who is struggling with being liked versus being effective.

Check out my post and those of my fellow contributors for relevant, in-your-face, performance altering insight at Performance I Create!

Real Bosses Sit Back and Listen

While flipping through the radio stations one night this week I stumbled upon this completely horrible song. But ironically, the guy said something that resonated with me because I was really trying to think of a title for this post. While I’m sure the context in which he meant it was different than mine, it still stuck with me when he said, “Real bosses just sit back and listen…”

When counseling managers, I hear all too often of unnecessary, unproductive confrontations and negative conversations. The conversations remind me of those had with children when one says something…and in an effort not to be outdone, the other just has to rebut, and it becomes a situation where no one wins.

When there is too much talking, not enough listening and someone is so busy trying to prove or drive home their point, messages get lost in delivery. The way something is said (especially when it has nothing to do with the actual issue at hand) can trigger certain emotions that cause all negotiations to shut down. Managers seek satisfaction by throwing verbal darts in an effort to exert authority and prove their case. Unfortunately, those darts and making employees feel as if they are “losing” are more likely to cause the difficult employee to avoid coaching, become combative and unwilling to listen…and even worse, passive aggressive and disengaged. So when you feel as if you “won” the discussion, did you really?

No one ever wins those back and forth battles…in person or in email. Managers often loose credibility and leverage simply because they talk too much, always feeling as if they have to justify a directive or decision after the fact. Leaders communicate what they want, not defend what they do. Clear communication up front allows you to sit back “like a boss”, instead of constantly having to defend your position.

What Is Your Best Defense?
like_a_bossWell-placed silence can be a powerful weapon in an effort to get results in one-on-one, difficult conversations. Tactical conversation can help people to actually hear what’s coming out of their own mouths, while giving difficult people a chance to put their foot in theirs. Well-placed silence helps one choose battles so that there will be enough energy to ultimately win the war. That being said, it’s ok to let people feel as if they are in charge or winning, especially when you know that you have a legitimate case. THE truth will come out if we manage our reactions properly, speak when necessary and keep our comments direct, fact-based and unemotional.

Back and forth battles give difficult people ammunition to continue in their manipulative and unproductive ways. Strategy, patience, calculated conversations and well-placed silence give managers the endurance and edge they need to get much needed buy-in and behavior change. And it’s those qualities that will enable managers to not just feel as if they’ve won a fight, but to actually win the war with the whole team in tact.

A P.I.P. Shouldn’t Be An R.I.P.

It’s so easy to say that employees should just go away when they’re not performing the way we want them to or responding to our management. The hard part is not actually getting them to change behavior, it’s actually admitting that we can do more to get them to where they should be.

image1PIPs or Performance Improvement Plans are often used by companies as the last ditched effort to shape up those “troubled” employees before we ship them out. Others use them as merely a coaching tool to get the attention of their people so that other forms of disciplinary action doesn’t have to be taken. I’ve seen PIPs in memo form, worksheets and templates, and I’ve even seen them delivered in emails. But regardless of how we format them, they should all have the same elements to be effective:

  • Clear areas that our employees need improve upon to remain a part of our teams
  • Challenging, yet achievable goals and deadlines for expected improvement
  • A plan of action for achievable said goals
  • Steps in which the manager can contribute and help the employee reach optimal performance
  • Fair and consistently applied actions that will occur if the desired performance isn’t met

We cannot use the word “Improvement” in the plan if we are not truly trying to achieve it. How we communicate during the delivery, and the words and tone used during the meeting should not feel like a death sentence or as if we are setting the employee up to fail.

There is no need to rehash the issues that we’ve had with the employee, but should focus on the behaviors that cause those issues that need to be altered or adjusted. Bringing up old stuff, especially if those incidents have caused negative conflict before, will surely turn your performance improvement meeting into a counter-productive blame session where no one is listening.

If we want our employees to listen, they must feel as if they are believed in, like they can make it and that they are being supported by members of management. Not only is this communicated in the document and meetings themselves, but by actually following up frequently to ensure that the necessary steps in the plan are being acted on.

So ultimately, a lot of the responsibility comes back to the manager. Not just delivering a document so that we can check a box, but managing our employees to yield the results that we need.

And isn’t that what management is all about? Not just supervising processes and expecting everyone to fall in line, but by providing resources and teaching people how to be successful in our systems.

Joe ClarkIf we want to get rid of someone, let’s just do it and move on to the next. Like Joe Clark said in the movie Lean On Me, “Don’t f#&% around with it…do it expeditiously!” But if we actually want them to get better, we must communicate it, make them believe it and show them how serious we are about them making it through the process.

Virtual Gluttony and Cries For Attention

As a huge proponent of Social Media and all that is right with it and all the good that it can do, it also has a way of making us feel as if our life sucks…comparatively speaking. Especially when things seem to be going well for everyone around you but you’re stuck in neutral. Or even when it seems that everyone is bigger, faster and stronger than you and that it’s not even worth competing anymore.

ladiesYour connections are traveling the world, but two weeks ago they asked you for $20. “Friends” letting the world know that their kindergartener, middle-schooler or teenager is smarter than yours…God forbid we have “regular” “non-superhuman” children. Or the ones that are sooooo successful and inflate themselves online, because no one is doing it for them in real life. Then those that are online tough guys or gals but wouldn’t say a contrary word to anyone face-to-face. 

We all know them. And as much as those things frustrate us, de-motivate us or annoy us to a point that we obsess over what we aren’t and what we don’t have, we keep subjecting ourselves to more. We are gluttons for punishment and wait in line asking, “May I have more please?”. We can’t put our phones down and we have to see what people are saying. We can’t help it. We’re addicted to virtual realities. And we don’t feel validated unless we’ve hit a certain amount of views or “Likes”. I’m guilty too, so don’t think I’m preaching. 

“If you’re not trending, you’re not living.” – Society, 2014

So was the introduction of social media into our lives and workplaces really done to help it, or was it done because that’s the only way to communicate to people these days. Were we getting so few pats on the backs that we only feel good about ourselves when strangers click a thumbs-up bottom? Was its invention a matter of innovation or was it a matter of necessity, because no one knows how to converse anymore? I don’t know, we could Chicken or the Egg it all day long, but it is here and we have to be smarter with how, why and when we use it. Or just not use it at all. I’m perfectly fine with some people being banned. Because it’s those people that turn others off from social media and keep the people it could benefit away.

If Social Media is replacing the news and entertainment mediums, we should be able to log in and be informed and entertained, not made to feel like failures. We should be able to check statuses during a boring meeting without being surprised and embarrassed by loud, stupid videos of a fights, people twerking, or the latest challenge where someone is lighting themselves on fire, choking or giving themselves pneumonia. A lot of things can be kept to ourselves, and if it is really an accomplishment, we’ll get the accolades and recognition that we deserve when it’s time.  Give people a chance to tell you that you’ve done a good job, or that your kids are well-behaved…because when you beat us to it, you seem like a braggart and like you need attention from thousands of people that normally wouldn’t talk to you. 

Everyone doesn’t like to talk about themselves, and that’s ok. Some people like to let their work and efforts speak for them, and they shouldn’t feel like they have to keep up and advertise online just to be relevant. Tell a joke, share a real news story, share an entertaining kid story or ask for legitimate support (and tell us what the hell we’re supporting without us having to say, “What’s wrong?!?!). But let’s chill with telling people how great we are…because they actually know us. 

20140805-215920-79160132.jpgThe very tools that are supposed to connect us are actually causing resentment and reclusion. And once there’s resentment, we stop. We stop responding when you need help. We stop “Liking” when good things actually happen. We stop clapping when there’s been an accomplishment. And ultimately, we mute you. No more acknowledgement. And if we become starved of acknowledgement, Lord knows what app they’ll have to come up with to fill the gap. I’m actually afraid.