Take the Time to Provide Direction and Support

How are most organizations doing when it comes to managing the performance of people in their companies? Not very well, according to Dr. Vicki Halsey of The Ken Blanchard Companies. In talking with managers and direct reports, Halsey has heard a lot of frustration with the process of leading others.

As she explains, “Managers are upset because their people aren’t doing what they think they should do. Direct reports are upset because they are not getting the direction that they need.”

That’s a challenge, according to Halsey, who points out that without a clear sense of what to do and how to rank and accomplish their most important tasks, employees are left on their own to prioritize their work.

“Some of the problem stems from the fact that managers are busier than ever today,” Halsey explains.

“Most managers have their own task-related goals in addition to their people-management duties. When you are trying to juggle both, it’s easy to fall back into a mentality of, ‘I hired you to do this job and I expect you to get it done.’ And what I’m hearing from people is that managers are doing a great job of telling people what to do, but rarely are they doing a great job of telling people how to do it.”

So, What Can Managers Do?

Savvy managers can improve the situation by focusing on three areas: 

  1. Clarify roles and goals. Begin by identifying the goals and strategic imperatives of the organization. Next, clarify what each team and department needs to be doing to help the organization achieve its goals. Finally, break it down to individual tasks and goals to achieve the desired results. Create alignment between individual tasks and the organization’s initiatives.
  2. Identify individual development levels and needed leader behaviors for each employee’s key tasks. What is the employee’s experience with this task? What does he or she need from a manager in terms of direction and support?
  3. Schedule weekly one-on-ones. Don’t let time pressures get in the way of a weekly check-in with direct reports to see how they are doing. A short, weekly meeting can work wonders in providing managers and direct reports with some structured time to discuss the direction and support neeeded to be productive.

With time and resources at a premium, leaders need to focus their people on the critical tasks to be accomplished. By clarifying goals, identifying direction and support needs, and scheduling the time needed to talk, people will get up to speed faster and produce the results organizations are looking for.

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