Set your employees up for success

By: Aleta Norris, Principal at Living As A Leader

Employers (and anyone in a leadership role) should be having regular conversations with their employees.  The key word is ‘conversation.’  Employees want to talk WITH their leaders!  Employees also have an interest in talking with their leaders regularly about their performance, not just once a year.  We are seeing more and more of our customers shifting toward a continuous coaching model, in lieu of the annual review.

With this in mind, ongoing conversations (as well as the annual review) will be more meaningful if they are tied back to intentional planning.  Planning is the first step in maximizing the performance and fulfillment of your employees.  During the planning phase, you will want to create clarity around a few things;

  1. What are the roles and responsibilities this employee is intended to fulfill? Take a look at your position description for each role?  How detailed is it?  Is it written in such a way that your employees can go home each day confident in what they have accomplished?  Beyond a written description, it is also helpful for your employees to know you expect a “whatever it takes” approach to serving both internal and external customers.  The written description is a guide for the major part of the role.
  2. What are you looking for relative to employee performance, conduct and attendance/timeliness? I encourage leaders to have, what we call, an Expectations One Pager.  On this document, identify what you are looking for relative to these things.  A few examples:
    • Performance
      Be familiar with your position description, and also be willing to do whatever else it takes for us to serve our customers.
      Complete your assignments on time. If you will not meet a deadline, let me know in advance.
      Do error-free work. Double and triple check for errors.
      Minimize non-productive time.
    • Conduct
      Do not talk negatively about others in the office.
      Do not use profanity.
      Minimize use of your personal cell phone.
      Dress professionally.
      Keep your work area neat and organized.
    • Attendance and Timeliness
      Arrive to work at your negotiated time.
      Arrive to meetings on time.
  3. What are the goals for this employee for the year? Goals can be written for special projects, for professional development and for correction of something that is currently below expectation.  You will want to ensure your goals are SMART.
    1. Specific
    2. Measurable
    3. Agreed-Upon
    4. Realistic
    5. Timed

An example of a goal that is not SMART:  Improve your communication skills.

An example of a goal that is SMART:  To improve your communication with customers, effective immediately, return all customer calls and emails within 24 hours or receiving them, and have zero typos on all written documents.

 Make sure to schedule time for planning and for having ongoing conversations.  Employees appreciate this intentional leadership!