Eagle Alliance Leadership Blog

Performance Management: How to Make Decisions in 8 Steps


Performance management includes having the ability to make good decisions about goals.  Here are 8 steps to take to make a good decisions.

1. Define the problem or opportunity.  What exactly do you hope to make happen?

2. Clarify expectations and desired outcomes.  Everyone should know what you are aiming for and how to recognize it. I have written other articles about this phase of goal setting.

3. Make sure that your goal is SMART (I have written another article about this):

Specific

Measurable or at least observable

Actionable

Realistic

Time bounded.

4. Explore alternatives. When feasible brainstorm with your team to create a list of possible alternative solutions.  Do not allow criticizing or judging during the brainstorming.  If only a part of a solution is good, build on that.  During this brainstorming step, you are broadening your perspective.  You list of solutions may include some novel approaches.

5. Narrow down alternative solution(s). Now you begin to narrow down alternatives.  You allow people to criticize items on the list of possible solutions.  You can combine or eliminate solutions.

6. Choose the best two solutions.

7. Compare their pros and cons.  If feasible, do a cost – benefit analysis.  There are many quantitative analysis tools you can use.  Also allow the use of intuition, which often produces wisdom from the unconscious part of the mind.

8. Choose the best solution.

The following graphic illustrates the process of decision making:





















Explore alternatives             Choose solutions

It shows how the first 4 steps are a broadening process and the last 4 steps are a narrowing down process.  Keeping this in mind will help you manage the process for a group.  You can remind those group members who like quick decisions to be patient in the broadening phase.  And you remind those who like to continue investigating, that a time comes for narrowing down.  Both types have to give a little to have a good group decision making process.

You can improve your ability to make good decisions about goals through our individual and Group Executive Coaching – performance management is an entire Module of our Virtual Workshop Series, Leadership Communication® :  How to Communicate with Emotional Intelligence for Powerful Leadership (http://www.EmotionallyIntelligentLeadership.com ),

and Self-Study Program (http://www.EagleAlliance.com/services/gec/ssinfo ).

Copyright © 2009, by William R. Murray, President of Eagle Alliance Executive Coaching, LLC.  Reprint rights granted to all venues so long as this article and by-line are printed intact with all links made live.

Performance Management: Bad Boss

Please add your story about a bad boss, present or past, to the “Leave a Comment” section at the bottom of this blog post.  If your boss is still around, give him or her different name and circumstances.  Then come back later to read other people’s stories.  If you leave your contact information, you may win a live coaching session from me, William R. Murray, to help you deal with the situation.  If it was in the past, you can still learn from it.

If you are or have been the “bad boss,” give your boss a different name.  Write your story from the point of view of one of your direct reports.  This exercise will give you new perspective and empathy.  And if you leave your contact information, you may win my live coaching session

Micromanaging Mike

Long ago I was a leadership development internal consultant at a major company.  I would talk with senior managers to see if they wanted to launch training projects for their department.  These projects would require a lot of time from them and their managers.  They needed to be convinced that the project would pay off.  Usually they were skeptical.

My boss, Mike, would want to hear all the details after I met with a VP.  He would then tell me exactly what to say at my next meeting.  I felt he did not trust me to make he right moves.  After I had a track record of several successful projects,  I came to detest what felt like his “breathing down my neck.”  I asked Mike to give me some leeway, but he refused.

After putting up with this micromanagement for over a year, I finally went to Mike’s boss to complain and ask for more breathing room.  Mike’s boss pointed out that I really could do anything I wanted since Mike never accompanied me to these high-level meetings.  All I really had to do was put up with Mike’s supervision and then do exactly as I pleased.

This was not the answer I wanted.  However, I realized that it was true.  I just decided to be more patient with Mike who always to the end wanted to tell me exactly what to do.  I could not change Mike, but I could change my reactions to Mike, and I did.  I learned to enjoy my actual freedom and put up with Mike.  He eventually moved on to another place.

Copyright © 2009, by William R. Murray, President of Eagle Alliance Executive Coaching, LLC.  Reprint rights granted to all venues so long as this article and by-line are printed intact with all links made live.

Emotional Resiliency Training to be Given by US Army

The NY Times announced on August 17, 2009 (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/18/health/18psych.html?_r=1 ) that “The Army plans to require that all 1.1 million of its soldiers take intensive training in emotional resiliency, military officials say.  … Usually taught in weekly 90-minute classes, the methods seek to defuse or expose common habits of thinking and flawed beliefs that can lead to anger and frustration — for example, the tendency to assume the worst.  (“My wife didn’t answer the phone; she must be with someone else.”)

The Army wants to train 1,500 sergeants by next summer to teach the techniques.

In an interview, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the Army’s chief of staff, said the $117 million program was an effort to transform a military culture that has generally considered talk of emotions to be so much hand-holding, a sign of weakness.”

If the Army thinks it is worth $117 million to train soldiers to have more emotional resilience, how about you, for your organization?  Do you think emotional resilience is worth the training time and cost?

I suggest you ask your employees if they often feel overwhelmed.  Layoffs have left many people who survived feeling exhausted as they have worked extremely hard to hang on to their jobs and performance level.  How many are discouraged in general about their state of affairs and future expectations?

With training, emotional resilience can be improved.  People can learn how to have more emotional intelligence in managing themselves at work.  Training with role plays, which the Army us using too, can help people reflect on their emotions and become more aware of them.  Greater self-awareness leads to the potential for greater self-management.

People learn to see themselves more clearly.  They can gauge their strengths and weaknesses better.  This helps them be more realistic about what they can do or not do in challenges.  They can choose better when to apply themselves or when to seek help from someone else.  And in many other ways, they learn to meet challenges with more resiliency.

Leaders can use performance management techniques to improve employee performance.  And emotional intelligence training can help employees to improve their performance on their own.

Eagle Alliance Executive Coaching, LLC offers training in both performance management and emotional intelligence.  For more information, Google our company or call our CEO, Bill Murray, at 919-419-9460.

Copyright © 2009, by William R. Murray, President of Eagle Alliance Executive Coaching, LLC.  Reprint rights granted to all venues so long as this article and by-line are printed intact with all links made live.

Performance Management: How to Plan and Follow Up in 8 Steps

Performance management includes having the ability to make plans for your goals and follow up.  Here are 8 steps to take:

1.  Write down a plan including your clear goals, deadlines and checkpoints along the way.  Summarize the major actions that will be taken, by when.

2. Brainstorm for next steps.

3. Choose the best next steps and write down specific feasible next steps.  If you have a long time line to the final deadline, it is OK to have a gap between the next steps and the final actions to be taken.  In the old days we planned all the intermediate steps and wrote up a beautiful 5-year plan for complex projects.  We learned that things change too much, causing us to revise this lengthy plan too often.  Generally, it just got tossed.  All that work sat on a shelf because it had become out of date.  So be practical.  Be content with your long-range goals and your next steps.

4. When you are close to completion of your next steps, choose new next steps and write those down.  Writing makes the brain work to find more clarity.

5. Delegate responsibility for the actions when possible.

6. Set follow up dates to discuss results.

7. At predetermined checkpoints, evaluate results.  As necessary, revise plans and redirect efforts.

8. When you meet your goals, celebrate and appreciate the work of others.

You can improve your ability to make good plans and follow up through our individual and Group Executive Coaching – performance management is an entire Module of our Virtual Workshop Series, Leadership Communication® :  How to Communicate with Emotional Intelligence for Powerful Leadership (http://www.EmotionallyIntelligentLeadership.com ),

and Self-Study Program (http://www.EagleAlliance.com/services/gec/ssinfo ).

Copyright © 2009, by William R. Murray, President of Eagle Alliance Executive Coaching, LLC.  Reprint rights granted to all venues so long as this article and by-line are printed intact with all links made live.

Performance Management: How to Create SMART Goals

Performance management includes having the ability to create goals with the characteristics summarized by the acronym SMART.

S = Specific. Everyone needs to know exactly what the specific results of a goal should be.  What does that look like specifically?  A vague goal can leave one in doubt about what to do and what the payoffs would be.  Inspire people with clear goals.

M = Measurable. People need to be able to measure or at least observe the desired results.  How will you know when the goal has been accomplished?  Everyone should be able to agree on observable outcomes.

A = Actionable. The goal of getting more customers is not really actionable.  You cannot directly make a customer buy your services.  You need to create a sub goal of having an effective advertising campaign, which is actionable.  Its measurable results could be the upward change in the company’s percent of market share and an increase in the number of customers.

R = Realistic. Is the goal realistic in light of its costs and the barriers to accomplishing it?  When anticipating costs, include non-tangibles too such as energy and time required.  Is it realistic to spend the necessary money, time and energy to accomplish this goal?  Will the necessary people support it?

Sometimes we con ourselves and others with false enthusiasm for the goal.  Then when the cost is felt and barriers arise, we lose heart and abandon the goal.  It is better to anticipate carefully the costs and barriers ahead of time and be sure the effort is worth it.

T = Time bounded. By when will this goal be accomplished?  Deadlines communicate the level of urgency for the goal.  Vague deadlines lead to procrastination.  Clear deadlines can motivate.  Also, to keep motivation up, it helps to have checkpoints along the way for progress.  We should have half of this project done by when?  We should be three-fourths done by when?

You can improve your ability to create SMART goals through our individual and Group Executive Coaching – performance management is an entire Module of our Virtual Workshop Series, Leadership Communication® :  How to Communicate with Emotional Intelligence for Powerful Leadership (http://www.EmotionallyIntelligentLeadership.com ),

and Self-Study Program (http://www.EagleAlliance.com/services/gec/ssinfo ).

Copyright © 2009, by William R. Murray, President of Eagle Alliance Executive Coaching, LLC.  Reprint rights granted to all venues so long as this article and by-line are printed intact with all links made live.

Performance Management: How to Visualize Goals

When you create important goals, it is powerfully motivating to visualize them.  You can do this for yourself and coach others to do it.  Here are the steps to visualizing goals:

1. Write down your goal with specifics.  For example, a goal of mine is increase by 25% the number of participants in my Public Section of my Virtual Workshop Series, Emotional Intelligence for Resilient Leaders and Professionals.

2. Imagine optimal success. What exactly is happening in your successful state?  What are you doing? In your imagination, see yourself doing it.  In my example above, I imagine myself now leading a group with more people to learn emotional intelligence.  And I imagine myself going to the bank to deposit more money.

3. What are you thinking? Say something positive to yourself.  In my example, I am thinking, “This increase in enrollment has made a larger class so that more people are available to participate.  I am also making more money.”

4. What are you feeling? In my example, I am feeling glad for more participants and money.  Relish the feelings.  Let your emotions flow as if this success were already yours.  Taste the success, the pleasant feelings.

5. What needs are being met? Ponder what needs of yours are being met by successfully reaching your goals?  And what values are you honoring?  Write them out.  Imagine the satisfaction of meeting needs and honoring values.  Stay with the pleasant feelings that arise.  In my example, I am meeting my need for contributing to others who are learning to improve their emotional intelligence.  I let that satisfaction sink in.

6. Notice how much more motivated you feel for accomplishing your goal.  If it is a big project, you may need to do the above steps repeatedly, perhaps daily.  This will strengthen your resolve.

Goal setting should not be just a mechanical process.  Use visualization to engage your emotional intelligence and motivate yourself.

You can improve your ability to visualize goals through our individual and Group Executive Coaching – performance management is an entire Module (http://www.EmotionallyIntelligentLeadership.com ),

and Self-Study Program (http://www.EagleAlliance.com/services/gec/ssinfo ).

Copyright © 2009, by William R. Murray, President of Eagle Alliance Executive Coaching, LLC.  Reprint rights granted to all venues so long as this article and by-line are printed intact with all links made live.

Performance Management: How to Manage Time According to the Importance of a Problem

When you address a problem, take the time to evaluate how important this problem is to you, your group and your company.  And when you coach others to describe a problem or opportunity, ask them to include how important the issue is.  Ask them, “What is important for you in this situation?”  Draw out why it matters to them.  Get a sense of their core values and how this situation impacts them.

Urgent Not Urgent
Important Quadrant I

ACTIVITIES:

Crises

Pressing problems

Deadline-driven projects

Quadrant II

ACTIVITIES:

Prevention

Relationship building

Recognizing new opportunities

Planning

Recreation

Not Important Quadrant III

ACTIVITIES:

Interruptions

Some calls, some mail, some reports

Some meetings

Quadrant IV

ACTIVITIES:

Busy work

Junk mail

Time wasters

Some socializing

From Stephen Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, p. 151.  Pages 150-165 give a detailed analysis of this matrix, urging you to make time for Quadrant II.

Determine which above Quadrant the problem or opportunity belongs to.

Quadrant I:  Urgent and Important.  We tend to jump right on these issues.

Quadrant II:  Not urgent, but important.  We tend to neglect these items, to our long term detriment.

Quadrant III:  Urgent but not important.  We often spend too much time here.

Quadrant IV:  Not urgent and not important.  Unfortunately, these items are often the most fun so we waste time on them.

Coach yourself and others to spend more time in Quadrant II.  Stephen Covey in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, writes 15 pages of reasons why this will be good for you.  Improve your time management by setting aside specified times for working on items in Quadrant II such as relationship building, visualizing new opportunities, preventive maintenance, exercise, stress mgt., etc.  Coach your direct reports to do the same.

Likewise coach yourself and others to minimize Quadrant IV activities and cut back on time spent on Quadrant III activities.

In this way you are able to better allocate your time to the things that are important.

You can improve your ability to manage time and solve problems through our individual and Group Executive Coaching – performance management is an entire Module (http://www.EmotionallyIntelligentLeadership.com ),

and Self-Study Program (http://www.EagleAlliance.com/services/gec/ssinfo ).

Copyright © 2009, by William R. Murray, President of Eagle Alliance Executive Coaching, LLC.  Reprint rights granted to all venues so long as this article and by-line are printed intact with all links made live.

Performance Management: How to Coach Others to Clarify Personal Reactions

When you coach others to describe a problem or opportunity, ask them to include how they are experiencing the problem personally.  When I suggest that, I am assuming you have a cordial relationship with them.  If your relationship with them is antagonistic, they may feel threatened by the following approach so it may not work well.

Naturally, you will ask about their view of the causes of the problem.  See if they believe they lack anything such as knowledge, skills, resources, contacts, cooperation, etc.  They may point out that they lack experience to handle this.  Or on the other side, they may assert that they are quite able to handle this if something would stop blocking them.  You can ask about the way an organizational or systems problem is hindering them.

Coach them to describe how the problem is impacting them. Keep asking for specifics such as “How are you coping with this?  When they answer vaguely, follow up with more questions to get the specifics.  Here are some good things to ask about.

Let’s presume the individual tells you that this problem makes them feel overwhelmed a common feeling nowadays in these stressful times.  Ask, “What exactly triggers this sense of overwhelm?”  Let them talk about the specific things that stress them.  Knowing what the triggers are can give a person some ability to avoid the triggers or be prepared to cope with them.

You can help them improve their coping skills by encouraging them to reflect on what is going on inside them too.  Ask, “How do you feel about this?”  If they say, “frustrated or mad,” etc., draw them out.  Make it OK to talk about feelings.

Ask them, “What do you need in this situation?”  Do they need objective resources, cooperation, or more personal items such as respect, recognition, appreciation?  Draw them out.  Get them to reflect more.

Similarly, ask them, “What is important for you in this situation?”  Draw out why it matters to them.  You can also coach them into greater strategic thinking by asking about their long-range goals, values, and sense of purpose.  Then help them notice how this problem is contradicting their values.  Encourage them to hold tightly to their appropriate values and persist in solving this problem.

In this way you can get off to a good start at problem solving by first clarifying the personal experience an individual is having with a problem.  In all these coaching questions, you are assisting a person to increase their self-awareness which will eventually empower them to increase their self-management skills and cope better.

You can improve your ability to solve problems through our individual and Group Executive Coaching – performance management is an entire Module (http://www.EmotionallyIntelligentLeadership.com ),

and Self-Study Program (http://www.EagleAlliance.com/services/gec/ssinfo ).

Copyright © 2009, by William R. Murray, President of Eagle Alliance Executive Coaching, LLC.  Reprint rights granted to all venues so long as this article and by-line are printed intact with all links made live.

Performance Management: How to Coach Others to Clarify Problems III

When you coach others to describe a problem or opportunity, ask them to speak very factually at the beginning.  Have them talk about what they can see or hear.  Keep asking for visible evidence for their conclusions

Coach them to be specific. Keep asking for specifics such as “When?  Who?  How?  How often?  When they answer vaguely, follow up with more questions to get the specifics.  If they say, “Often,” you ask, “How many times last month?”

Naturally, you will ask about the causes of the problem.  See if there is an individual deficit or a systems problem.  In the case of an individual deficit, find out if the individual lacks motivation or skill.  If they lack skill, you can find training or information for them.  Often you think it is a skill deficit problem at the beginning.  Take your time to double check.  It may be a systems problem beyond their control.

In that case, you must define what systems are at fault and consider ways to fix them.  Do you need new software or a new procedure, etc.?

If you are not sure if there is an individual deficit or a systems problem, there is one technique you can use. Ask the person to pretend you have put a gun to their head and told them to do the task in question.  If this would cause them to do the task, they do not lack knowledge or skills.  They probably lack a good system or procedure.  You may need to solicit help from others to remedy this situation.

In this way you can get off to a good start at problem solving by first clarifying the problems and their causes.

You can improve your ability to solve problems through our individual and Group Executive Coaching – performance management is an entire Module (http://www.EmotionallyIntelligentLeadership.com ),

and Self-Study Program (http://www.EagleAlliance.com/services/gec/ssinfo ).

Copyright © 2009, by William R. Murray, President of Eagle Alliance Executive Coaching, LLC.  Reprint rights granted to all venues so long as this article and by-line are printed intact with all links made live.

Performance Management: Coaching Others to Clarify Problems II

When you describe a problem or opportunity, speak very factually at the beginning.  One way to make sure you do this is to talk about what you can see or hear.  You might want to say, “John was very hostile toward me.”  Well, that is actually your conclusion.  Start with what you saw and heard.  “John strode quickly toward me, shook his finger in my face and raised his voice to about twice his normal volume.”  Having stated what you saw and heard literally, you can then move to your conclusion that John was hostile.

This example is so simple that it seems unnecessary to state the facts about what you actually saw and heard.  However, in more complex behaviors, it can be difficult to separate out the facts from your conclusions.  And it becomes far more difficult to coach another person to do this.

One helpful technique is to pretend there was a camera on the wall.  What did it record?  Visual actions and sounds or words.  Talk about these.  Remembering the idea of describing first only what a camera would record, will help you to speak in a manner others can hear.  Then your conversation can proceed toward your goal of solving problems.

If you begin with your conclusion, “John, why are you so hostile?”  John may react defensively, “Who me, I’m not hostile!”  How many times have we all witnessed such a denial?  So ease in first with the facts that a camera would record.

Now it gets harder as you coach others to do the same thing, start with observable facts.  So pull it out of them.  Ask, “What exactly did you observe?”  Keep asking for visible evidence for their conclusions.  What did you see happen?  What exact words did you hear spoken?

Coach them to be specific. Keep asking for specifics such as “When did this happen?  Who else was there?  How often has this happened in the past?”  When they answer vaguely, follow up with more questions to get the specifics.  If they say, “Often,” you ask, “How many times last week?”

In this way you can get off to a good start at clarifying problems.  And you will increase your chances that the other person can join you instead of getting defensive.

You can improve your ability to solve problems through our individual and Group Executive Coaching – performance management is an entire Module (http://www.EmotionallyIntelligentLeadership.com ),

and Self-Study Program (http://www.EagleAlliance.com/services/gec/ssinfo ).

Copyright © 2009, by William R. Murray, President of Eagle Alliance Executive Coaching, LLC.  Reprint rights granted to all venues so long as this article and by-line are printed intact with all links made live.