Wednesday, March 2, 2011

How To Prevent Them From Saying "That's Not Fair!"

Last week’s blog posting may have raised a few questions for some people. Isn’t rewarding only some employees showing favoritism? Wouldn’t that foment poor morale and complaints from those who don’t get those extra perks such as more flex time or the coveted office chair?

It might, if you aren’t clear about your expectations, and consistent about asking for accountability and rewarding positive behavior.

What behaviors do you reinforce? Are your employees clear about which behaviors are desirable and which aren’t? Don’t assume they are. The only thing you can assume is what is obvious to you, is obvious to you and not necessarily to anyone else.

I remember a story one client told me about an employee who seemed surprised when he was told his cynical attitude was holding him back. Attitude is not usually a category on a performance evaluation. However, this employee should have been coached and given feedback on the impact his attitude had on his team and his own career.

Regardless of whether a behavior is measured on a performance appraisal, any action that impacts one’s career, their team, the customer, or the organization needs to be commented on. If it positively impacts others, then every team member should know that it is a desired behavior. If it has a negative impact, then the person exhibiting that behavior needs to be taken aside and educated and coached about how to change. It is remarkable how many employees are not aware of the impact of their behavior, so be sure they understand the depth and the extent of it.

In order to ensure that the cries of “unfair!” and “you’re the teacher’s pet!” aren’t heard among your team members, follow these guidelines:

1. Be super-specific about what your expectations are regarding performance and professionalism. Never assume others know what they are.

2. Verbally praise those whose actions and attitudes positively affect the team and the organization. Praise in public, so others know what is valued.

3. Educate and coach your employees about what actions and attitudes negatively affect the team and organization. Ensure they understand the extent of their influence and how others (including themselves) are impacted. Correct individuals in private.

4. Be consistent and timely in asking for accountability, and in providing verbal praise and coaching.

5. Be consistent in rewarding those who exhibit high performance, increased responsibility, and exceptional results.

When someone shows they can take on added responsibility and freedom, you give it to them. If they don’t you don’t. It is just like having children: when they show they are responsible, you can let them stay up later, do more activities, and have more privileges. When employees show they are responsible by performing above expectations consistently, you give them more privileges too. Just make sure you adhere to your own guidelines about what those expectations are, and what privileges go with them. And make sure your employees know that too.

If you do this, you won’t have to contend with grumbling about unfair treatment and favoritism. It will be obvious to all what they have to do to gain more perks and experience “re-recruitment”.

Top performers know what is expected of them, and everyone should know what it takes to be a top performer, and what the rewards are.

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