Can we be honest here? There are times when the workplace gets so out of control with behaviors and under-performers who have hung around so long that we don’t know what to do. We realize as leaders we have contributed to the anarchy. We know that we should have addressed the behaviors a long time ago. We know that we should have worked through the performance issues with certain individuals even if that led to termination.
What is it that they say about hindsight?
The good news is, you can start from where you are. I realize that sounds cliche but it’s true. You can decide that you are going to start addressing the behaviors today and dealing with the low performers. You can do all of that if you are focused and consistent.
I call those leadership resets and I help clients work through them quite often – not because they are bad leaders – but because they are busy leaders who have just let things get a little out of control while they focused on other things.
Here’s how they work.
The leader must identify the types of behaviors that are no longer desirable or the areas where there are issues. The most common include communication (or lack thereof), ownership and thoroughness. Once the areas have been identified examples of good and bad for each should be created. The bad examples will be easy because they are happening in the workplace every day. Good examples will be the desired state and shouldn’t be that difficult to come up with either.
Then, the reset.
Both group and individual conversations with employees must be held to describe future state. The leader (or whoever is doing the speaking) must share that there are a few areas where behaviors, including those of the leader, are less than desirable and out of line with the values of the organization. This can be done in a group setting. The facilitator must speak in clear language and give examples of the types of behaviors the business expects going forward.
In addition to those group meetings, it may be necessary to hold meetings with individuals who are low performers. These conversations should also center around what is expected going forward and address the fact that higher level of accountability will be in place. The person should understand how they will be measured and the consequences of non-compliance. They should have a chance to request anything that they may need to help them get back on the right track.
After the meetings are held and everyone knows the expectations, the leader must then be consistent in enforcing those expectations. They do this in a couple of ways. First, they praise – loudly and in public – anyone who demonstrates the good behaviors described in the meetings. If communication was an issue and someone communicates in the way that is wanted, they should be held to high esteem in front of their peers. The best way to get people to change their behavior is to praise the behavior you want anytime you get the chance and as loudly as possible.
Second, they hold to the new standard of accountability. Any delay in addressing performance issues only inches them closer to the way things were before the reset. Leaders must hold employees, and themselves, to the expectations set forward in the reset or they will only find themselves doing it again soon.
Leadership resets can be very useful tools for realigning behaviors with expected performance. They are not easy as they do take a bit of humility on the leader’s part to admit that things had gotten out of control. It also takes a leader(s) committed to sticking to the expectations outlined in the reset after the fact no matter how hard things get.
Have you used a leadership reset in your business? How did you do it and how did it go? Could your business use a leadership reset? The longer you wait, as with most things, the harder it gets.