In Pay me to stay – Part 1 I offered four tips to help employees set themselves up for effective review and compensation conversations. Managers and leaders … it’s your turn! How can you take some of the pain and stress out of the rituals of performance and compensation conversations? It’s simple … read on!
Building Habits Around Four Steps
Simple to talk about…not easy to execute. Without good habits or solid systems compensation and performance reviews can quickly devolve into brutal horse trading exercises for managers and leaders. So while this can’t specifically help with cultural elements in your particular business or space, here are #3nomorethan5 things I preach in my executive coaching sessions:
- Culture is key – We’ve all heard it: culture eats strategy for lunch. You need to know what philosophies or principals are foundational to your team’s culture. If values like transparency/honest communication are important, you have to live them and drive your team to do the same. Without specifically identifying the key elements of your culture, shaping expectations the team’s working dynamic gets challenging. Without those expectations … accomplishing business objectives becomes exponentially harder.
- Set solid expectations – All employees (new or long-term) deserve to know what your business objectives are. Where does their work fit in and contribute to executing the objectives? How will you measure contributions? This is the toughest part of managing. Expectations provide the framework for executing the work. Without them, how will you know the work was done? The best leaders I know also have a knack for tweaking (rather than throwing everything out the window and starting over) expectations when/if the landscape of the business changes. Tying those expectations to specific goals sets you and your employees up for productive interactions throughout a project or performance period.
- Communicate…Communicate…COMMUNICATE – Businesses constantly shift … and Covid taught us the shifts can be intense. If you anticipate changes (small or large), talk about it! Strong and consistent communication opens the door for making adjustments to expectations (while still focused on deliverables) without making the team feel like a seismic catastrophe just occurred. You create opportunities for discussions on progress-to-date, what might need to improve, or what has exceeded your expectations.
- Write it down – Coaching can’t happen only at compensation or performance review time. It needs to happen constantly. A specific compliment from a teammate is shared … send a note to the person being complimented with your thanks. A conversation at a meeting went sideways … request time to debrief then follow up with a thank-you email noting improvement suggestions for the future. A leader or partner has a concern with a third party … facilitate a conversation with them, offer #3nomorethan5 points all will commit to do/improve moving forward, and thank them for including and trusting you. Back to a tenet of mine: if it isn’t written down, it doesn’t exist.
Consistency Today Pays Off Tomorrow
Consistency breeds credibility. While performance and compensation reviews aren’t always fun, using and repeating these steps minimizes the risk of surprises (…not the fun kind). Conversations are more productive when people don’t feel blindsided and you are forced to react to unexpected emotional responses. And when the talk boils down to dollars and cents, you can show patterns … have specifics to share … and can better support your position to grant (or not) appropriate increases or hype the deserved bonuses for your top performers. The majority of my work as a leader was tied to people – my team and the organization I supported. So if you struggle with any or all of the four items above (brace yourself for a tough-love moment), maybe management is not for you.
I’ve used these four steps and I’ve coached leaders on these four steps. They are simple concepts that aren’t easy to execute consistently or well. But, as you grow … build good habits … and develop a brand as a consistent/fair leader, the difficult and complimentary conversations become easier and more impactful. As your team and colleagues see you circling back to your cultural foundation (Step 1) and can show evidence of your efforts (Step 4), not only does your credibility increase … their trust in you grows as well.
Ready to jump in and give this a try? Need help getting it embedded in your operating systems or rhythm? I’m here to help!