An organization that accepts mediocrity is a haven for under performers, and very frustrating for high performers. Here are ten ideas I found in my work with organizations are each effective in reducing mediocrity. Best of all, you can put any of these ideas to work immediately. If you can accomplish 8 to 10 of them, you’ll sharply-focus your organization, reinforce strong accountability, and dramatically improve operating results.
- Improve your hiring selection process to focus on behaviors that support your culture, as well as a performance track record, and an attitude of learning and growth. One of the best ways to improve overall quality of results is to make sure that you don’t hire problem performers. Set a goal to always hire individuals who are better than your average performer, that way you’ll constantly be upgrading your talent.
- Educate all your managers, especially at the top, about how they should lead, manage, and coach their people. Create “the way we manage people here” mentality along with specific guidelines and company leadership values. Too often organizations don’t do this and managers end up ‘doing their own thing.’ That’s not good quality people management. A smart practice is to ensure that every manager has a people-related accountability and performance objective.
- Continually improve your strategy development process so that you have a clear direction and overall performance objectives. A good process for creating strategy involves key people so that they all understand it, contribute to the development, have buy-in, and can continually reinforce it throughout the organization.
- Make a conscious effort to communicate strategy throughout your organization so that know what to focus on in their daily work to help achieve the strategy. You want an organization where everyone understands where the organization is going and how it expects to get there. I’ve seen companies not communicate strategy because they think their strategy is so confidential. Hogwash! How are your people to know what they are working towards if you don’t tell them.
- Develop a goal-setting process that aligns effort and results on key metrics. Setting overall goals and specific objectives is where the rubber meets the road. You’ve got to translate the strategy into specific goals and objectives for groups and individuals. Schedule goal setting to begin the year with goals; not 3-4 months after the start of the year.
- Provide regular performance feedback (“Here’s how you’ve done.”) and performance feed-forward (“Here’s how you can be more effective going forward.”) Of the two, feed-forward is more effective in improving performance. Regular feedback is at least monthly, not annually.
- Understand that newer employees, those working remotely, recently promoted, and longer-term employees all have different needs for feedback — one standard approach is unlikely to work for In short: Know how much feedback each person requires.
- Create a system where people can track their own results and get feedback from their peers on where they stand, what they are doing well, and how they can be more effective. Incorporate your own organization’s best practices. Make this a dynamic system. There are some great tools available to automate this process and implement a ‘social media’ kind of performance feedback system.
- Identify under-performers early. Give them candid feedback, specific improvement objectives, and the opportunity to improve. When you have a performance problem, determine whether it is a skills issue or a motivation issue — the solution is quite different for each.
- Develop a standard separation process to exit people from the organization while treating them fairly and with dignity. Separating people is never pleasant, but a good process will make it easier.
Stop procrastinating about this whole issue — begin today. The best time to begin is now because every day you wait is another day that you are not getting the results you need, and another day that your best performers wonder if things will ever change.
If you want to get off to a fast start, call me and together we’ll put together a plan to immediately get better results.
© Copyright 2017 Bob Legge
Bob Legge provides organizations with the ability to exceed their most ambitious goals. I work with leaders of Fortune 500 companies, small and mid-size companies, nonprofits, education, and government. Together, we drive strategy, lead successful change, develop high performance cultures, improve individual and organizational performance, and produce faster, sustainable growth and value. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org