Welcome to this first edition of our Business Performance newsletter for 2011. We thank all of our valued customers and visitors for your continued support throughout 2010. And we trust that 2011 will bring you, your business and your family much good fortune and success.
Last year was a very eventful year, starting with the Haiti earthquake in January that killed more than 200,000 people. Other natural disasters that shocked the world include the Chilean earthquake in February, the Icelandic volcanic eruption in April and the July floods in Pakistan. At the political storm front, WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, created his own deluge with his release of the Afghan and Iraq war logs. And the world remained on tenterhooks with the increasing military tensions between North Korea and South Korea.
The social and financial markets also witnessed their share of instability, with the anti-austerity riots in Greece and the $90 billion bailout loans to rescue the Irish economy. Perhaps the most uplifting news this year was the rescue of the 33 Chilean miners buried underground for 69 days. No doubt, in 2011 we will continue to experience uncertainty as markets adjust to life after the GFC and extremes of weather play havoc across the globe.
For our first issue, we tackle a couple of perplexing questions in our popular Q & A section. A frustrated manager is having challenges getting an employee to take responsibility for their work. Our second response helps a consultant who has spent a lot of money on their web site without any return. If you have any questions that you would like answered, send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
In this issue, we also give you a heads up on coming price increases for some of our products. If you are thinking about purchasing a Business Performance product, now is the best time to buy.
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How can I get a colleague to take responsibility?
One of my direct reports has been promoted to my previous role, which involves inventory. I spend many hours correcting his sloppy work, even though I have given him instructions on how to find and correct his own errors. He asks why he should check and correct his own work if I am going to do it anyway. The owners expect me to continue fixing his errors. I'm tired of doing two jobs.
Firstly, to regain your sanity, you will need to push back on the owners. Tell them that you cannot continue to perform two jobs. It is not fair to yourself and to your family. I know this may be hard to do as you are committed to doing a good job and seeing the company succeed. The upside is that you will have a plan to take to the owners.
From what you say, the company does not appear to have a formal performance management system and, if it does, it is not being used effectively. The essential elements are mutual goal-setting with each employee, regular formal and informal performance feedback sessions, action plans for performance improvement and rewards and recognition for goal achievement. These are the basic elements. However, the good news is that you don't need a formal system to get the advantages. You simply need to borrow the fundamental principles and apply them.
To start with, sit down with the employee to clarify and set performance expectations. Discuss, for example, what is an acceptable error rate. Try to come to a mutually agreed performance standard. Show him the impact that inventory errors have on other people working in the system to get him on board. If he appears not to care about others, you will need to take a more directive approach. Most importantly, impress on him that from now on error rates are his responsibility. At the end of the conversation, let him know how his performance will be monitored and write down the new performance standards.
Performance Monitoring and Feedback:
Checking and correcting every single error is a very poor waste of a manager's time. And it is little wonder that he leaves it to you as you have set up this expectation. Start off with a thorough audit based on random sampling only. Perhaps start with sampling 50% of inventory entries. As error rates decrease, sampling percentages can decrease proportionately. Meet with him daily or weekly, as appropriate, as long as the feedback is timely. In between formal reviews, give feedback spontaneously. Most importantly, praise him when he performs well. Positive feedback works much more effectively than constant negative feedback. Whenever possible, get others in the organization to let him know face-to-face how his errors are impacting their work.
Following the feedback, get your employee to fix the errors he created. Only then will he take full responsibility for his own work. Every three months or so, review his performance results formally. Where there are deficiencies or where there is no or little sign of improvement, ask him how he intends to lift performance. Set improvement targets and ask him what he needs from you to achieve them. Continue monitoring the results regularly and modify the action plan if need be.
Rewards and Recognition:
When things go right, give him specific and timely praise. Set up specific rewards for when performance targets are met. Don't rely on financial rewards, such as bonuses and extra salary. These may have only a very short-term impact. Consider non-financial rewards, such as write ups in the company newsletter, certificates of achievement, restaurant vouchers, letters of thanks from a senior manager, and so on. These are just some of your options. Ask him what rewards he would value. If his performance is improving, ensure that the positive appraisals outweigh the negative.
Be mindful that when it comes to managing employee performance, there are two key and interrelated aspects. There is the performance management process, covered briefly above. And then there is the interpersonal skills aspect; how you see yourself and how you interact with others. The latter will give you credibility, confidence, trust and openness - essential requirements if you are going to get employees on board with your goals. Having the right interpersonal skills is just as important, if not more important, than having the right process.
If you would like to find out more about how to set goals, give effective feedback and motivate employees for top performance, then check out our easy to read e-book, 2 Way Feedback. This compact e-book is packed with strategies for building trust and creating a high performance culture in your workplace. Used successfully by business owners, team leaders and managers in organizations of all types and sizes. Find out more about 2 Way Feedback and download today!
"It's short, accessible, full of the 'good-oil' -wise and practical suggestions about feedback and within a solutions focused framework. Great for supervisors and managers and busy people."
Ross Gillespie (Director), CoachCorp Pty Ltd
How do I get my web site visitors to take the next step?
Many people arrive at my web site. But hardly any of them take the next step. How can I get my web site visitors to do something?
You want your visitors to perform some action after they arrive at your web site. That might be to sign up to your newsletter, fill out your enquiry form, post to your forum or buy your product. Right!
The first question you need to ask yourself is, "How credible does my web site appear?" Having a successful on-line presence requires that your web site exudes professionalism and trust. And that's in the eyes of your visitor. You may think that your web site reeks professionalism. But what do outsiders think of your web presence? Ask your friends and colleagues to visit your site and report to you their impressions.
Some time ago, Stanford University conducted extensive research into what makes for a credible web site. Below is their list of top ten guidelines for building the credibility of your web site.
- Make it easy to verify the accuracy of the information on your site.
- Show that there's a real organization behind your site.
- Highlight the expertise in your organization and in the content and services you provide.
- Show that honest and trustworthy people stand behind your site.
- Make it easy to contact you.
- Design your site so it looks professional (or is appropriate for your purpose).
- Make your site easy to use - and useful.
- Update your site's content often (at least show it's been reviewed recently).
- Use restraint with any promotional content (e.g., ads, offers).
- Avoid errors of all types, no matter how small they seem.
Now use the above 10 pointers as a checklist to rate your own web site. For how many of these pointers can you say that your web site does a good job? You can read an explanation of each of the guidelines and the references to the research that back them up at the Stanford Guidelines for Web Credibility web page at http://credibility.stanford.edu/guidelines
If you are struggling to make your site a magnet that attracts customers and are fed up with all the hype, then enquire about our web business coaching. Suitable for business owners and consultants that want to get a return on their web site investment, our coaching program guides you through the critical actions you need to take to make your web site successful. Contact us today at email@example.com to get started.
Product Price Changes
Our prices on the following products are rising on 20 January 2011. Get in now before the price rise to secure your product at the old pricing.
A Guide to Project Management
Introductory guide and comprehensive set of reusable templates and forms for managing projects of all types and sizes.
Managing Change in the Workplace
Practical guide and reusable workbook with many exercises and forms for leading, managing and implementing lasting workplace change.
Training Evaluation Tool Kit
Complete step-by-step guide and toolkit for measuring and reporting the impact of your training programs in both financial and non-financial terms.
Writing Learning Outcomes
Practical guide and workbook for developing and documenting training course learning objectives. Complete with customizable templates.
For all questions related to the new pricing, please contact our Products Team at firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit our web site at www.businessperform.com for lots of expert guidance and practical tools designed to help you get ahead of your competition. Also, be sure to pass this newsletter on to friends and colleagues who want to stay up with what's on. From all of us here on the Business Performance team, we wish you a productive month and look forward to communicating with you again soon.