How rubbish managers affect your performance

| November 24, 2015

In today’s world, it seems technical competence is a given, not a competitive edge. What differentiates outstanding businesses from average ones now is the degree to which leaders in the business understand what makes people tick.

Whether you’re a leader, manager or frontline employee, mastering this mindset is the key to creating, innovating and delivering products and services that customers want, and essential for building workplace cultures where employees are motivated to serve and over-achieve.

So why is it nine out of 10 managers are actually never taught anything to do with human behaviour principles? Most training today still focuses on technical competence and process but this is only half of the equation. What often determines the level of performance reached is often more to do with what goes on inside a person’s head – in terms of a person’s thoughts, feelings and general attitude. Added to which – the thoughts and feelings associated with a high performer are typically triggered by their thoughts, feelings observations and beliefs about the person who leads them: their line manager.

So with this in mind, how does a line manager actively and consciously trigger high performance in others?

Put simply, it comes down to mindsets and there are four crucial mindsets which work together to trigger sustained high performance. Each of these mindsets drive the actions, behaviours and performance required to help trigger people to perform to the best of their ability by generating positive thoughts and feelings. Typically these thoughts and feelings are concerned with core drivers such as trust, respect, connection, care, confidence, inspiration, learning, growth, focus and achievement.

So let’s take a look at each of these mindsets and the starting point for each:

The Emotional Intelligence Mindset

This is a critical mindset which underpin all others. Your leaders must develop their emotional intelligence. Some will be naturally emotionally intelligent but for others, it needs to a be conscious mindset that must be switched on. Those that score high in emotional intelligence competencies seem to have one thing in common. They continually seek to understand why they behave, react and respond in the ways they do (self-awareness). With this competency comes a higher level of understanding in others (empathy) which in turn enables a person to more accurately predict their likely responses. As a result, they are better prepared for these responses and typically avoid knee-jerk emotional reactions which often result in regret and more work (self-management)!

The Connection Mindset

Managers today must understand what it takes to truly connect people. The aim is to connect their people on two levels. Firstly comes connection of the person to them as the manager and secondly, connection to the organisation.

Connection is about forging an emotional bond. If an employee has an emotional bond to the organisation and to their leader, you are far more likely to tap into their full potential. Be clear: sustained high performance rarely comes from technical competence; it comes from a personal choice, driven by an employee’s thoughts and feelings. And the person who has the biggest influence on this choice is the manager.

The two critical components that must be in place as a starting point are demonstrated respect and trust.

When it comes to trust there are two types. Professional trust (people trust my skills) and personal trust (people trust my behaviour). The best managers demonstrate both types of trust consistently. Ineffective managers have one or the other, or neither. Then from trust comes respect and from this, a high likelihood of connection.

The Growth Mindset

One of the most important and significant roles of a manager is to help people gain confidence in their roles. Confidence is essential for all high-performing individuals. Building confidence in team members ensures they keep growing, stretching their abilities and attaining new skills (sometimes ones they didn’t know they were capable of).

This is where high potential sits. Contrary to popular belief, confidence can absolutely be taught and there are four areas to target. Develop self-awareness in your team members so they understand their impact on others. A positive impact on others has a high correlation to confidence.

Second, develop their people skills so they communicate well. Again, good communication skills have a high correlation to confidence. They also need a thorough understanding of firstly the organisation’s product/service and finally the team/organisation processes and how their role in the process impacts others. Only when people are competent in each of these four areas are they ready to be challenged and taken out of their comfort zone – to start their journey to high performance.

The Performance Mindset

The final component is the performance mindset. This is critical to ensuring jobs get done and required results are achieved. The starting point for mastering this mindset has to be setting — or for some, resetting — expectations.

When expectations are grey and ambiguous, so too are the outcomes. Your managers and leaders must all be skilled and drilled in setting expectations. Most managers are not and therein lies a major opportunity. Your managers must understand the four levels of expectations that need to be set:

·         Job role expectations (what needs to be done);

·         Performance expectations (what needs to be achieved);

·         Team expectations (how we work with each other); and

·         Organisation expectations (how we do things around here – the organisation’s culture).

Teach or re-teach your managers how to have these expectations and conversations with their team as well as the importance of consistency — then watch the dramatic impact this has on performance.