Wednesday, September 22, 2010

What Is More Important – Email or Employees?

I was just sitting here reading about another leader who claims that, in her organization, they really care about their employees and treat them as their biggest asset.

It made me wonder: “Why do we check email every hour or so, review our budget monthly, check our sales goals daily, review our departmental goals every quarter, but only sit down with our employees to review their performance once per year?”

If you want to know what someone THINKS is important, ask them. If you want to know what they BELIEVE is important, watch their actions.

People espouse the concept of employees being important because they are told that it’s true. They know that to be a good manager, they need to provide feedback to their employees on a regular basis. And they know that developing their team members is critical to their own success. So, when you ask them the question, they will readily tell you how important their employees are to them.

But their actions don’t match their words.

I recently worked with a client who had lost a key member of his team, sort of. I say “sort of” because, while the person was publicly acknowledged as a key member of the team, privately the client expressed doubts about this team member’s performance. In talking with the client, he expressed concerns over the quality of the work being performed, the dedication of the individual, and his ability to meet the goals laid out for him.

“Does Bob know you feel this way about his performance?” I asked.

“I’ve given him plenty of feedback,” was the reply.

Of course, when I checked in with Bob, I got a very different story.

“I haven’t had a Performance Appraisal in 3 years,” was Bob’s quick reply. “I have no idea how I’m really doing, since John doesn’t talk with me,” he said, “but I must be doing pretty well since I haven’t heard otherwise.”

Without going into details, let’s just say that there was plenty of fault on both sides. Bob was right in that he had not had a formal Performance Appraisal in 3 years. There had been a couple of informal discussions about performance that generally happened on the spur of the moment when Bob happened to be in John’s office when John had a concern. In those sessions, John had pointed out specific issues that needed to be addressed in Bob’s current work. And, it had been “assumed” that Bob understood that this was a much bigger issue.

“I really don’t like confrontation,” was John’s comment to me. “I mean, I’m not afraid of it, but I don’t like it either. So I don’t do it a lot, but when I give feedback I know I’m being clear.”

What is clear…is that whatever John’s message was to Bob, he wasn’t receiving it. I often say, “It’s not what I say that is important, it’s what you hear.” In this case, Bob wasn’t hearing the feedback at all.

Let’s return to the original question. Why do we check email every hour or so, review our budget monthly, check our sales goals daily, review our departmental goals every quarter, but only sit down with our employees to review their performance once per year?

Because providing feedback means talking to another human being and saying things that might not always be easy. Instead of dealing with what might actually be a minor issue, we hide behind impromptu meetings, negative feedback disguised as praise (and therefore confused by the recipient), and annual performance reviews that are generally too little feedback too late.

Consider this – if I knew that what I was doing wasn’t pleasing you, I would change it. But I can’t change behavior that I don’t know is wrong. Try talking with your employees as often as you check your quarterly goals, or even more often. And don’t rely on messages that you THINK are getting through. Ask the employee what message they received from your feedback. It is a great way to tell if your message is really getting through.

Your employees are certainly more important than your email. Perhaps it’s time you began to treat them that way.

At ECI Learning Systems LLC, we are dedicated to helping companies get the greatest return from their most valuable asset: their employees. We work with you to align 3 key organizational factors:
• Your Company Culture
• The Leadership Styles of your key managers
• The Expectations of your Employees

When these 3 factors are aligned, you create an energy in your company that improves productivity, reduces absenteeism, increases creativity, and positively impacts your bottom line. Contact ECI Learning Systems LLC today to get your free Workplace Evaluation.

Until next time.....

Dave Meyer
ECI Learning Systems, LLC

1 comment:

  1. Bang!

    You hit that nail squarely on the head Dave. I have seen alleged Leaders giving so called Feeedback while looking at a laptop and scrolling their I phone.