In order to bring you the most accurate and useful information possible, Employee Selection and Development, Inc. will be issuing PRACTICAL RESEARCH REPORTS quarterly. Its purpose is to give you practical and useful information on hiring, motivating, and managing employees. Should you have any questions or want further elaboration, please contact us by email or call 800-947-5678.
PRACTICAL RESEARCH REPORT #19
Management Competency - Driving For Results
Driving results in an organization requires more than just a personal best effort. Rather, positive organizational results come from the coordinated effort of many people. Leaders who consistently obtain high levels of performance and effectiveness from their organizations identify and focus on goals and objectives that are truly important to the organization. They assume personal responsibility for organizational achievement, challenge others to do the same, and persist despite obstacles.
As you might guess, it would be impossible to provide a comprehensive primer in just a few pages. Many books have been written on this topic. Below, we try to provide you a general overview of the most important issues.
Identify the Target
There will always be many demands upon the resources of your part of the organization. To be effective, you must sort out the truly important from the potentially distracting. You must define for yourself and your group those results you wish to obtain above all else, and you must clearly and consistently communicate these objectives to your group. As you define these objectives, remember that good goals are:
- Specific. Set goals that are specific rather than general. For example, a specific goal like “increase production by 10%” is more effective than a general goal like “do your best.”
- Public. Everyone in the organization should know and understand the goal, key milestones and progress to attainment.
- Participative. People are more likely to adopt goals as their own if they have participated in the goal setting process.
- Challenging, but attainable. In general, higher goals lead to higher results. However, people must believe the goal is attainable or they will not commit to it.
- Measurable. Progress to goal achievement should be measurable by objective standards and regular progress feedback should be available to all people involved. Progress feedback is an important motivator for most people and will reinforce the achievement of milestones and ultimate objectives.
- Successful results do not happen by chance. The achievement of results depends upon maintaining focus on your goal(s) despite distractions.
- Review your priorities at the start of each workday. Give precedence to activities and tasks that support your goal by working on them first.
- Discipline yourself to have “focus time.” Focus time is a period of time you set aside to concentrate all your efforts on accomplishing your goal. Minimize distractions during your “focus time” by shutting your door, not answering emails, and letting your calls go to voice mail. Try to devote at least 1 – 2 hours of focus time each day to your primary goal or priority.
- Identify “time wasters” by keeping a daily log. Write down all your activities in 15-minute increments for a 1 or 2 week period. Note how much time you spend on high priority activities versus low priority tasks. Brainstorm strategies to eliminate the typical distractions and time wasters that you identified.
Optimism is contagious. Share a positive attitude toward the organization and excitement about achieving goals. Words make a difference. Try to be aware of the message you are communicating to others through your comments, jokes, and expressions. Strive to consistently communicate a positive attitude and avoid making discouraging remarks about the organization, the workload, or group goals. Good or bad, others will take their cue from you.
If you wish to challenge others to achieve results you must lead by example. While much of your work activity will probably involve coordinating and managing rather than doing the work activities that produce the results, you must commit more strongly than the people you wish to influence and must work hard if you expect others to do so. Doing some of the most difficult or unpleasant work yourself or lending a helping hand to a person or group with too much to do will also increase the commitment and effort levels of your team.Taking personal responsibility means asking yourself what you can do, and then doing it. In Personal Accountability, author John Miller suggests:
- Take personal responsibility by asking questions that include “I,” such as “What can I do” Initiative starts with you; do not wait for someone else to make improvements happen.
- Avoid blaming others by asking yourself questions that begin with “What” and “How” rather than “Who,” “When,” or “Why.” For example, ask, “What can I do to increase product knowledge in my work group” instead of “Why don’t they give us more product training”
- Focus on action by using words like do, achieve, and build. For example, ask yourself questions like “What can I do today to help my work group achieve its monthly production goal”
- Demonstrate your willingness to put in extra effort to achieve results. Let others see you working hard to meet or exceed goals. Offer to put in extra time to help others complete tasks related to your goals.
- Meet commitments and deadlines. If you fall behind schedule, go to work early or work late rather than asking for an extension. Others will see your commitment and are likely to follow your example.
Challenge your team to commit to the goal and assume personal responsibility for achieving their part. Certainly, you can demand performance, and you can dictate methods and procedures to be used by all to achieve the desired result. In the long run, however, you will be more effective if you use positive and facilitative strategies such as those below.
Empowering others to accept responsibility and make decisions creates personal commitment to achieving results. Delegation is a key tool for encouraging others to take personal ownership for group objectives.
- Solicit input from other team members at the start of projects and throughout the initiative. Brainstorm ideas. Ask for input on decisions.
- Delegate responsibility for various aspects of the project. Ask for volunteers or assign a part of the project as a developmental opportunity for a specific team member. Delegating responsibility will help others grow in their careers and will allow you more time to focus on higher order activities.
Achieving results requires more than just the will to do so. Often, people are unsure how to overcome obstacles and achieve their goals. Thus, a willingness to support, coach, and advise others in their efforts is an important component of obtaining results through others.
- Try to learn each team member’s capabilities and understand their perspective of the job or project. What is working well and what can be done to improve What challenges will each individual have in trying to accomplish the group goal
- Investigate and understand the amount of work required for each task and the methods used to accomplish the task. Where in the process are obstacles likely to exist Tap the expertise of key team members to prepare for and overcome these potential setbacks.
- Strive to spend 20% of your day helping others achieve their results. Avoid detailed control of their activities, but be available to provide support on difficult issues. As problems arise, try to demonstrate how to solve the problem and discuss possible solutions rather than just providing the answers or doing the work yourself. At every opportunity, attempt to teach people how to solve the problem rather than just giving them the solution.
- Adapt your style according to individual preferences and needs. People vary in their desire for structure and guidance. Some people enjoy the freedom to accomplish goals in their own way, while other prefer the comfort of structure and guidance.
Feedback and Reward
Reinforce hard work and accomplishment of desired results. Make a habit of rewarding top producers so that they will continue to put forth their best effort. Provide constructive feedback to those who are struggling to meet goals.
- Recognize good performance. Make a point of saying someone has done good work when they have, and make some of this praise public.
- Share the credit for achievements. Keeping the credit for yourself may bolster your personal ego in the short-term, but sharing credit will encourage results that will benefit the whole team in the long-term.
- When someone’s performance falls below expectations, give him or her clear, unambiguous feedback and improvement guidance. Do this in private and with tact, but do not avoid this important responsibility.
Ultimately, most results are achieved through a persistent, focused effort despite obstacles, fatigue, and periods of discouragement.
- Stay focused on the objective, and help others to do the same.
- Communicate with your team regularly and maintain a constant message about the importance of goal attainment.
- Recognize when interest wanes or people become discouraged. At these times, redouble your efforts to communicate, support and remove obstacles. Every difficult project will have an ebb and flow. Successful managers and their people make a habit of persisting through the low times to achieve the results they desire.
The discussion of the above management competency is part of our Assess for Managers Selection and Development program. This program currently has 38 defined management competencies that have been organized into five management levels. These competencies can also be custom tailored to your company’s management positions. If you would like to discuss this in more detail, please call us at 800-947-5678.