Guest blog by Brandy Ferrer
President and Co-Founder at Pathfinder Strategies
Congratulations! You are now “The Boss.” So, now what?
Being an entrepreneur or being promoted to a leadership position doesn’t necessarily mean that your internal “boss” switch suddenly flips on. In fact, it often takes years to develop and hone leadership skills. The road to effective leadership is paved with many bumps and road blocks. Read on to learn about some of the common pitfalls of leadership and how to overcome them.
Recently, a friend and fellow business owner mentioned that she was struggling with how to handle a consistently tardy employee. After some probing, I learned that she did not have an employee handbook, written policies or any type of standard operating procedures that outlined the expectations and consequences for punctuality. Nor did the business owner verbally set expectations at the time of hire.
One of main responsibilities of The Boss is monitoring and managing employee performance. This cannot be accomplished without first establishing what the employee is and is not supposed to do. Think of expectation-setting as paving the way to your employee’s success. To start with, have frank conversations with employees to express what their responsibilities are, how they should be executed and what the desired results are. If you do not already have an employee handbook or written policies and procedures, now is the time to create one. Written guidelines support expectations, maintain consistency, and outline consequences. Include a form for the employee to sign that acknowledges that they received, have read, and understand the information in the employee handbook.
Handling Difficult Conversations
The desire to be liked by others is simply human nature, but it’s this desire that sometimes prevents The Boss from having difficult (but necessary) conversations with their employees about performance. In order to provide employees the feedback they need to be successful while maintaining a respective collaborative environment, leaders must have frequent open dialogue with employees about performance.
If it is necessary to address poor performance, there are some things you can do to make it a constructive experience.
• Create a script for yourself before the meeting to ensure that you address all key points. Identify the issue with specific examples. Include ideas for an improvement plan.
• Discuss how the performance affects the team and the mission. Include examples of how the performance is outside of expectations.
• Express that this performance is not acceptable, and review what the consequences are if performance does not improve.
• Collaboratively come up with an improvement plan. Let the employee come up with solutions (with your input as necessary.)
• Express confidence that the employee can get back on track. Express your support.
• Before the meeting ends, set a date and time for a follow up meeting.
Motivating Your Team
Motivation is the holy grail of employee performance, but often The Boss is uncertain about how to tap into this potential. So what’s the trick about employee motivation? The first thing to be aware of is that not everyone is motivated by the same thing. Employees who are extrinsically motivated may enjoy working toward a bonus or a mention in the newsletter, whereas intrinsically motivated employees may seek additional training or new tasks. Get to know each employee individually. Learn what excites them and what they hope to gain from the job. Learn their job-related and personal goals. The Boss must tailor motivational strategies to each specific employee.
Are you meeting the expectations that have been set? Have you recently discussed the importance of professional appearance with your team, but you roll into the office in jeans and a wrinkled shirt? Have you stressed the importance of punctuality but are consistently 10 minutes late to meetings? Remember, it’s up to you to set the example through your actions. If your team sees your devotion to the mission and commitment to the company and to the team, they are likely to follow suit.
Brandy Ferrer is the Co-Founder and President of Pathfinder Strategies, a specialty consulting company providing tailored services in the areas of training and development; technology streamlining and support; and digital media strategies for beginners. Find Pathfinder Strategies on their blog, on Twitter and LinkedIn.