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I want to talk with you about Accountability which is meaningless without consequences

Without a doubt, the most stressful times in my Leadership career has involved dealing with poor performing employees.  What follows is an approach I use to help turn things around for the better.

Building a high-performance team starts with you looking in the mirror and asking yourself some tough questions:

  • Do you have clear vision of what you want to achieve, how you behave (core values), and a compelling reason why you are doing this (core purpose)?
  • Do you have a winning strategy in place that will set everyone in the team up for future success?
  • Did you follow a disciplined hiring process – a group interview first talking about your Business Mission and Values, not hiring on skillset, then asking the candidates to stand up and talk about why they are the best person for the position, or show you how they can sell if it’s a sales position.
  • Did you then look at the CV’s to see if its congruent with what you heard at the interview and then invite the best candidate or candidates back for a 1 2 1 interview as well as talking with relevant referees – at least 3!!!
  • Did you hire the right person in the first place?
  • Does every person have clear priorities and key performance indicators that they are accountable for?
  • Have you provided them with the tools, training and support they need to take full ownership of their role, and do a good job?
  • Are you holding them firmly accountable for meeting the performance standards for their role every month?

If you can hand-on-heart answer “Yes” to all of these questions and you still feel like the employee is the problem, then may I suggest the “3-Ts” approach

  1. Train,
  2. Transfer
  3. Terminate

People do things for their reasons – not yours.  Ask yourself:

  • What is driving their behavior?
  • How can you align their interests with the company’s interests?
  • How can you make high performance at work something they are truly motivated by?

At your weekly 1 2 1 meeting with your team members (you do have one, don’t you?) – if you have an employee who seems to be struggling, try asking the following questions:

  • What support do you need from me in order to help you achieve your goals?
  • What sort of reward do you think you should get, if you do achieve your goals?
  • What should the consequences be if you cannot achieve your goals?

Typically, the reward they ask for will be something you can both agree on – and it doesn’t have to be money!

Evidence suggests that intrinsic motivating factors like mastery (seeing improvement), autonomy (ability to choose “how” to achieve the goal), and purpose (a compelling reason “why”) are more motivating that extrinsic rewards.

Motivation is all well and good, but that doesn’t negate the fact that we all still have a performance standard we need to reach in our roles.

Their answer to the 3rd question will be revealing, often they themselves will suggest transfer (to another role) or termination.  I always say, “Accountability is meaningless without consequences”.  It is important you both agree what the positive consequences and negative consequences for performance are.

As Colin Powell ex US Secretary of State said,   Everyone in the whole team can see those who are not performing, and they’re looking to you as the leader to see what you’re going to do about it!!! –

On the plus side, everyone in the whole team can see who your “A” Players are, and it makes acknowledging and recognizing their performance so much easier also.

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