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Published on October 25th, 2018 by Scott Summers

Managing Individual Performance

Hi everyone,

Today we are back running our Legendary Leadership Training Course, and it covers many things, how to lead your team to high performance, but also how to manage performance, and that’s the model I wanted to show you today.

The managing individual performance model

This is for those tricky feedback conversations that you need to have with particular members of your team.

So the first stage is maintaining the self-esteem of the individual whose performance you’re managing, and this starts with when you’re collecting evidence.

You need to have a conversation with them that includes examples and specifics around what it is that they said or did, and to do that you’re not always present when the performance issue takes place and so you need to collect evidence to do that.

Whilst you’re doing that you need to make sure that you’re not putting the individual down in any way, that you’re not bad-mouthing them, or saying things like “Mmm, yeah that’s typical of them.” This is about making sure that you just collect evidence and that you remain impartial.

Then when you make contact with the individual make sure that you do that completely privately. You would certainly not want to invite someone to a feedback conversation in front of their colleagues, for example.

And then you need to maintain their self esteem throughout the conversation too. You would never say something like, “When you’ve got more experience then you’ll know better,” that’s the type of comment that would really put someone down. You need to make sure that you maintain their self esteem right from when you’re collecting evidence, through to inviting them to a meeting, and then throughout the entire conversation. Because if you don’t they’re going to get defensive or difficult to work with, and you want defences down, you want them receptive to what it is that you’re about to say.

Secondly you need to talk about a couple of specifics.

The specific situation. When this happened, where, who was present.
And then the specific behaviour, remember behaviours are what people say, or what people do, the types of things that you can give feedback on. Again be specific, saying something like “Oh you’re always late for team meetings,” isn’t particularly helpful. That ambiguity is not going to be supportive for the rest of the conversation, so you need to replay what was said and what was done on specific occasions.

Also, be specific about the impact that that behaviour has had on them, the individual, on you as the manager or the leader, on the rest of the team, on the work, on clients, on the wider organization, on other teams. Often people change their behaviours when they know the impact that they’ve had on others so it’s really important to be specific at the impact stage as well. Explaining the impact often then triggers the desire to change behaviour, in the individual.

Then you need to agree what to either continue if this is a conversation about some positive performance, but more likely what to change. What behaviour needs to change, what specific things do they need to be saying or doing differently to what they’ve done before? What impact are you now looking to achieve?

Finally you need to maintain communications, so agree on how you’re going to continually monitor that performance and when you’re going to follow up, so an end date to when you were expecting this performance to have changed by?

So normally we’d have this conversation by pushing and pushing would sound like:

  • “I need to talk to you about a specific thing that you’ve done.”
  • “Here’s what you said.”
  • “Here’s what I’ve heard you did.”
  • “This was the impact that you had.”
  • “Here’s what I want you to do differently.”
  • “I’m going to be following up with you on this particular date.”

And my advice is to not do that.

Do not push, because by pushing I think we’re often met with resistance, and this then becomes much more about what’s on your agenda, and you’re not really listening to what the other person is saying. It’s going to be really hard for you to know if the person is really buying into this or not.

Now all of this conversation can be had through asking questions, so a quick example of that could be:

  • “How are things going on the ABC project at the moment?”
  • “Well, tell me about that then, what’s difficult about working with that person?”
  • “So then what did you say? And then what did you do?”
  • “What do you think the impact of that was?”
  • “If you could do this again what would you change?”
  • “What might you do first?”
  • “What do you think you can get that done by?”
  • “When would be a good time for me to follow up with you?”
  • “What about an interim then?”

By pulling this conversation rather than pushing it you’re empowering the individual, and you’re getting a sense of where they are with this. A sense of if they’re actually buying into this or not. Or are they very vague or resistant as you’re having this conversation? This all gives you something you can then respond to.

You’re much more likely to get their buy-in and agreement at the end of this and you’re therefore more likely to get the performance improvement that you’re looking for.

So that’s the Managing Individual performance Model, try it out let me know what you think, and follow us on social media for lots more really useful management techniques.

Bye for now.