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7 words that strike fear in managers… And what to do about it!

There are 7 simple words designed to strike fear into most managers as they try to coordinate their busy diaries and deliver an ever increasing workload with fewer resources:

Are all your appraisals booked in yet?

But in reality, it shouldn’t be that way should it? We should want to check in with our team members and look at their performance, shouldn’t we? We don’t have time for these conversations in our day to day work, so we should look forward to them shouldn’t we?

After all, if we have a regular and effective 1 to 1 conversation with our own managers, it helps us know what we are aiming for, gather our resources, feel heard, feel empowered, vocalise our ideas and fears and know whether we are doing a good job. We all want to know that don’t we?

So how come the ‘appraisal’ word has become synonymous with extra workload? Surely this is just a process that formalises the 1 to 1 conversations we are all having regularly anyway?

Sadly, all too often in my world I come across organisations where the appraisal process has become over-complicated, or used as a stick/carrot (which as we all know only delivers short term stress-filled motivational results) or not used at all. It has become an annual ‘event’ rather than a weekly / monthly check in.

So when we were called in to help an organisation equip their teams of managers to be able to deliver more effective performance or 1 to 1 conversations during a time of intense change and stress within the organisation, I was delighted.

We developed a programme that gave them time to explore and take ownership of why these conversations are important, along with the opportunity to explore how to do them, practice doing them, give one another support through the challenging period and learn the fundamentals of a coaching approach in the process. The results were outstanding. The belief in themselves and impact they noticed was incredible. More importantly, the impact on the business during such a profound time of change was immeasurable.

‘I have held conversations where previously I would have walked away. I have more confidence to discuss individual issues and ask probing questions’

So if you want to hold better 1 to 1 or performance conversations, what would I recommend?

  1. Prepare – make sure both you and your team member are prepared in advance.
  2. Question – ask open questions and keep it about the role, not the individual
  3. Listen – stay curious a little longer and rush to action a little slower
  4. Respond not react – control your reactions; take time to formulate a considered response
  5. Commit to action – these are useless if nothing comes of them. What are you both committing to as a result.

Of course none of us are perfect, and we still all get carried away sometimes or are a little thoughtless at times, but the more we practise, the better we get.

So if you want to make sure you are practising the right things, or would like some support for your team to take ownership of better quality, coaching led 1 to 1’s and have confidence to approach the more challenging ones, we would be delighted to help. For more information on this particular case study, along with some of the impact it had, see here.

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