Leaders have different strengths, weaknesses, behaviors and personalities, so it is natural they approach performance management differently. But, all employees need to see some consistent application of both formal and informal rules for important performance activities including:
- Reinforcing good behavior and performance
- Enhancing average behavior and performance
- Correcting poor behavior and performance
- Disciplining unacceptable behavior and performance
A best practice we developed in my roles as Start-up and then Operations General Manager in a Fortune 50 corporation was a weekly ACT meeting. Its’ focus was 100% on taking action to drive Accountability, Consistency, and Trust. This standing meeting was mandatory for anyone who had the privilege of supervising others – no exceptions. The format was a simple round-table discussion.
First, each leader was asked to answer two sets of questions:
- Who should we make sure to thank for their extra effort, performance, or values-based behavior this week? Why? (Then ALL leaders reinforced, over the next several days, by stopping - showing sincere appreciation – and reinforcing).
- Who should we be aware of that is being corrected or disciplined? Why?
And then, a final exercise was done where one specific policy or procedure in the employee handbook was reviewed by the on-site HR specialist. This helped create a common interpretation and execution.
What we initially found, through healthy dialog and debate, were that leaders had lots of different tolerance levels, ignored, or made excuses for certain employee behavior and performance. These inconsistencies created perceived favoritism, trust issues, and eroded relationships. And, they all negatively affected performance.
International businesswoman Margaret Heffernan once said, “for good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument, and debate.” I would add that these same key elements are needed for creating a high performance organization with Accountability, Consistency, and Trust (ACT).