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The Secret To Exceptional Staff Performance

Aug 17, 2007
When you manage or supervise other people, a core part of your role is helping them to perform to their best possible level while keeping them focused on your goals and priorities.

Are you routinely getting exceptional performance from your staff? Are they motivated, happy and regularly go above and beyond what is expected in order to meet your customers needs? If not, here is one secret that will help you get the best out of your people as well as boosting their happiness on the job.

It is one secret that is counter-intuitive, one that you may initially reject, but after 20 years of building exceptional businesses, it is the one secret that I can tell you that is guaranteed to make the most difference to an employees performance.

The secret ... Look at your own performance first. A significant proportion of any employees success is directly related to the effectiveness of their manager. If an employee is not performing well, always start by checking out how you are contributing to the outcome.

In life and business, you get what you focus on. Where your attention is placed, what you regularly think about, talk about and worry about it is what you will get more of.

For example, one retailer that I worked with worried extensively about shop-lifters. He had a chart on the wall behind the counter to highlight how many shop-lifters each staff member had apprehended that week. It got to the point where even customers would say "How many have you got this week Joe?" Guess what they always got ... more shoplifters. Guess what they got less of ... customers and sales.

If all of your personal focus is on a negative outcome, you will see more negative outcomes.

If you are focusing on the wrong things, then you will also not get the performance that you require. Another company wanted the focus for their staff to be on answering the telephone within 2 rings. They really hammered home 2 rings, 2 rings, you must answer within 2 rings. If you dont answer within 2 rings we will discipline you for it. Well the staff got the message ... they always answered within 2 rings and then promptly put the customers on hold for extended periods of time while they answered other calls or served customers. As a result customer satisfaction with the company plummeted.

If you as a manager have no real focus, you are not clear on what is to be performed, in what order, in what priority and for what purpose, you will never get the best out of your staff. I worked with one company that whatever came off the fax last was the top priority (and they had hundreds of faxes each day). They were constantly reacting to situations, fighting fires and doing lots of tasks badly.

So, what do you do about it? Start by getting clear on the bigger goals and purpose of your business or project, then work out tasks and then priorities. Then finally talk with staff about it and get their understanding and buy in.

As an aside, buy-in by staff does not come about through the CEO visiting and making a pep talk over biscuits at morning tea once a year, it is something that takes time, a sharing of ideas and viewpoints and a number of discussions before buy-in takes hold.

Think of buy in to your vision and goals like branding. Your company vision and direction is like your brand. No-one in business thinks that if they place their logo and slogan just once in a newspaper that customers will know about your company, your brand and what you stand for. Branding takes time, focus and consistency of messages, so too with communicating your vision and direction.

Without clear focus and a shared understanding of direction and priorities AND buy in by your staff, you will always only get a pale reflection of the performance you potentially could achieve.

So start by looking backwards in order to go forwards. Get clear where you are heading and work on ways to clearly get the message through to your staff. Only then will you get exceptional staff performance.
About the Author
Ingrid Cliff is a leader in People Management and Business Communications. Find out how to get your People and your Communications aligned with your vision at www.heartharmony.com.au
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