|Contents Lacks the Knowledge, Skills, or Abilities to Perform|| Achieving excellence through performance is accomplished in two major ways. The first way is taking a proactive stance by unearthing or preventing counter-productive methods. For example, you might implement diversity and sexual harassment training programs before they become a problem within the organization. |
The second way is to correct performance problems that arise within the organization. This is accomplished by first, identifying the root cause and secondly, implementing a plan of action to correct the problem. Although people are our most important asset, it sometimes seems as if they are our biggest headache.
There are four major causes of performance problems:
Coaching SkillsSome people tend to use the terms coaching, mentoring, and training interchangeably. However, there are differences. Mentoring is often thought of as the transfer of wisdom from a wise and trusted teacher. He or she helps to guide a personís career, normally in the upper reaches of the organization. However, this perception is starting to change as organizations are now implementing mentoring at all levels of the company's structure.
Training is about teaching or instructing a particular skill or knowledge and is normally givin in a formal environment.
Coaching, on the other hand, is about increasing an individual's knowledge and thought processes with a particular task or process. It creates a supportive environment that develops critical thinking skills, ideas, and behaviors about a subject. Although it is closely tied to training, it is more personal and intimate in nature.
The main difference between a coaching and a training is that the former is normally done in real time. That is, it is performed on the job. The coach uses real tasks and problems to help the learner increase his or her performance. While with training, learning is performed within the classroom.
Mentoring is more career developing in nature, while training and coaching are more task or process orientated. Also, mentoring relies on the mentor's specific knowledge and wisdom, while coaching and training relies on facilitation and developmental skills. Although there are these differences, you could say that the three are synergistic and complementary, rather than mutually exclusive as most people would agree that a good coach trains and mentors, a good trainer coaches and mentors, and a good mentor trains and coaches. A performance coach is also a:
Often the employee knows how to perform the desired behavior correctly, the process is good, and all resources are available, but for one reason or another, chooses not to do so. It now becomes a motivational issue. Motivation is the combination of a person's desire and energy directed at achieving a goal. It is the cause of action. Motivation can be intrinsic - satisfaction, feelings of achievement; or extrinsic - rewards, punishment, or goal obtainment. Not all people are motivated by the same thing, and over time their motivation may change.
Although most jobs have problems that are inherent to the position, it is the problems that are inherent to the person that cause us to loose focus from our main task of getting results. These motivational problems could arrive from family pressures, personality conflicts, a lack of understanding how the behavior affects other people or process.
When something breaks the psychological contract between the employee and the organization, the leader must find out what the exact problem is by looking beyond the symptoms, find a solution, focus on the problem, and implement a plan of action. One of the worst situations that a leader can get into is to get all the facts wrong.
Start by collecting and documenting what the employee is not doing or should be doing - tasks, special projects, reports, etc. Try to observe the employee performing the task. Also, do not make it a witch hunt, observe and record what the employee is not doing to standards. Check past performance appraisals, previous managers, or other leaders the employee might have worked with. Try to find out if it a pattern or something new.
Once you know the problem, then work with the employee to solve it. Most employees want to do a good job. It is in your best interest to work with the employee as long as the business needs are met and it is within the bonds of the organization to do so.
Causes of problems
Expectations or requirements have not been adequately communicated.This motivational issue is not the fault of the employee. By providing feedback and ensuring the feedback is consistent, you provide the means for employees to motivate themselves to the desired behavior. For example, inconsistent feedback would be for management to say it wants good safety practices, and then frowns on workers who slow down by complying with regulations. Or expressing that careful workmanship is needed, but reinforces only volume of production.
Feedback must be provided on a continuous basis. If you only provide it during an employee's performance rating period, then you are NOT doing your job.
Also, ensure that there is not a difference in priorities. Employees with several tasks and projects on their plates must be clearly communicated as to what comes first when pressed for time. With the ever increasing notion to do more with less, we must understand that not everything can get done at once. Employees often choose the task that they enjoy the most, rather than the task they dislike the most. And all too often that disliked task is what needs to get performed first.
Lack of motivation.A lack of motivation could be caused by a number of problems, to include personal, family, financial, etc. Help employees to recognize and understand the negative consequences of their behavior. For counseling techniques see Leadership and Motivation and Confrontation Counseling. For some training exercises see Performance Counseling Activity.
Shift in focusToday, it's a lucky employee (or unlucky if that employee thrives on change) that does not have her job restructured. Changing forces in the market forces changes in organizations. When this happens, ensure that every employee knows:
When dealing with human performance, feedback refers to observable behaviors and effects that are objective and specific. This feedback needs to be emotionally neutral information that describes a perceived outcome in relation to an intended target. For example, "During the last two meetings, you announced the tasks and how to perform them, rather than asking for input. That does not give people the opportunity to take ownership of their work." People who receive feedback in this manner can use the data to compare the end results with their intentions. Their egos should be aroused, but not bruised.
Compare this to criticism that is emotional and subjective. For example, "You dominate the meetings and people do not like it!" The recipient has much more difficulty identifying a changeable behavior other than to try to be less dominant. Also, the angry tone of the criticism triggers the ego's defensive layer and causes it to be confrontational or to take flight (fight or flee), thus strengthening the resistance to change; which is exactly the opposite of what needs to be done.
Delivering effective performance feedback takes time, effort, and skill; thus people often fall back to criticism. Since we receive far more criticism than feedback, our egos have become accustomed to fighting it off. We have all seen people receive vital information, yet shrug it off through argument or denial, and then continue on the same blundering course.
Receiving FeedbackBeing able to give good feedback should not be the only goal; we also must be aware of the need to receive and act upon feedback, even if it is delivered in a critical manner. That is, we need to develop skills that help us extract useful information, even if it is delivered in a critical tone.
Allowing attitudes of the criticizer to determine your response to information only weakens your chances for opportunity. Those who are able to glean information from any source are far more effective. Just because someone does not have the skills to give proper feedback does not mean you cannot use your skills to extract useful information for growth. When receiving information, rather it be feedback or criticism, think "How can I glean critical information from the message?" Concentrate on the underlying useful information, rather that the emotional tones. Also note what made you think it was criticism, rather than feedback? This will help you to provide others with feedback, rather than the same emotional criticism.
The Feedback ProcessGiving feedback, instead of criticism, can best be accomplished by following two main avenues:
In Borat's cheesy video shown above, we notice that Borat is learning that all the packages are "cheese" in one form or another. He might even go on to an advanced cheese class and actually taste some cheeses and learn how to prepare a few dishes. And this is where a lot of coaching ends -- at the single-loop learning stage in which we learn about something and how it can solve some of our problems.
Yet Borat still faces the daunting task of actually using his new skills and knowledge in the workplace. And when he meets the slightest form of resistance of putting his new found learnings into action, e.g., "we only use block cheese," he is going to place the blame on the external environment. This allows any failings to fall upon external forces.
Thus his ability to learn has been shut down at the time that he really needs it the most. Rather than shifting to double-loop learning by asking deep reflective questions on why he cannot do it and then taking action to actually do it, he shifts to a defensive reasoning pattern that ensures any criticisms are shifted to others or to the environment.
For coaching to be the most effective, then we need to allow the learners to look at their own reasoning patterns so that they can detect any inconsistencies between their espoused and actual theories of action.
Note that the supermarket manager is analogous to coaches who only teach "packaging" and pay no mind to the differences in substance. He presented every package as "cheese" even though the product might have been quite different from variety to variety. For example, Feta and Colby are both "cheese" but if a recipe calls for one, they are not normally interchangeable. Distinctions often matter, even if it is only cheese.
Borat seems quite confused that the same product could be offered in so many different packages; he has not yet realized that the product within differs. A good coach allows the learner to go "deeper" into the process, rather than just gloss over the surface so that when he or she returns to work, they can use their new knowledge and skills in a variety of contexts.
In compliance environments, employees are told what to do. Although you may turn them loose to perform their jobs, the goals and objectives come from upper-management.
In commitment environments, employees are involved in determining the strategies, directions, and tasks needed to achieve the organization's objective's. This is accomplished by:
ReferencesArgyris, C. (1991). Teaching smart people how to learn. Harvard Business Reprint 91301. Boston: Harvard Business Press