If Anyone is Surprised, Then You're Doing it All Wrong

12/21/2018 11:44 AM Comment(s) By Brigid Clair Obetz

This is it – it’s end of year review / vendor contract review time.  And if anyone in those meetings is ever surprised, then you’re not doing it right.  Whether it's a vendor performance review  or an individual performance review, clients and managers can usually follow the same path to success.  Here are three concrete changes you can make so you get it right:

Give Feedback As You Go

Whether you are talking with a vendor or a subordinate, you need to let them know when they get it right…and when they miss the mark, especially on small deliverables.  The secret is to give feedback that is time-aligned to their performance.  If they do a good job, tell them right then.  And if you are disappointed with what they have done, let them know why.  Timely feedback lets them understand your assessment of how they address any problems you ask them to solve; your thought process on what a good solution looks and feels like; and your level of satisfaction with their performance in executing the agreed-upon solution.  The more they understand the lens you wear in viewing the world, the easier it is for them to put that lens on when making decisions you will review.  If you’re really good at sharing your perspective, they’ll bring back issues that they’ll understand you will want solved – all because you’ve been transparent in your decision-making, and timely with your feedback.

Image above courtesy of:  geralt

Let Them Play Small Ball When They Need To

Admittedly, it’s great to see your team hit home runs one after the other.  But what do you do when you see them strike out time after time?  Remember, it’s to your advantage, whether you’re dealing with an in-house staff member or an external service provider, to set them up for success.  Because everyone wins when you do. 

Be willing to let them string together some small successes for a while, so they understand clearly what you want.  Communication breaks can contribute to big whiffs, so set them up to accomplish smaller, nearer-term objectives.  This helps solidify the trust between both parties, build confidence on both sides, and increase everyone’s appetite for a little more risk.  Those are the building blocks for bigger successes.

Image above courtesy of: cherylholt

Find 'Discounts' You Can Both Agree

In a buyer/vendor circumstance, discounts are usually find-able.  Whether it’s a price reduction, service modification, SLA adjustment, or something else, you can typically figure out a way to make the service provision more agreeable to both parties. What about in a manager / contributor situation?  There are discounts that are less obvious – but they’re there nevertheless.  On both sides. 

What managers can give

  • ‘Attaboys’ don’t cost you a thing.  And the allegiance they garner you can be off the charts.
  • Ask them what they’d like.  Maybe it’s tickets to see their favorite team.  Maybe they’d like to take their kids to the zoo on a weekday.  You’ll never know if you don’t ask.

  • Let them work on their passion project.  It’s astounding what people will accomplish when it’s work of their choosing.

  • Consider letting your staffer work from home one day a week or more.  This can buy you enormous goodwill. 

  • Explore your comp time agreement.  Maybe your staffer would prefer comp time that ‘floats’ so they can use it for doctor appointments, deliveries, etc.  As long as it’s tracked, it’s manageable.

  • Take on a project your staffer dislikes.  When you take a burden from them…they’ll owe you a debt they’ll try to repay.

What staff can give
  • When comp time isn’t available but the work is fulfilling, many of us will work longer – even though we won’t be compensated.  Consider going the extra mile for your boss.
  • If you both agree you need help and you can’t convince management to give you headcount, consider asking for an intern instead.  You can offload less valuable work to a newbie who’s happy for the experience, and free yourself to make more valuable contributions.
  • Lifelong learners will go to the ends of the earth to advance their skills.  And you can do it on your own time.  More skills make you more accomplished in your current job – and more marketable for your next job.  Learn new things, whether it’s skills, software, or a professional certification/designation.
  • Consider a short-term pay freeze. Maybe you can offer to take your salary increase a few months later.  This can be especially effective with small business employment.  When a manager sees a bank-account level of dedication, it can build bridges that will withstand significant storms.

Image above courtesy of:  geralt

Servant Leadership Works at Every Level

The more each of you is willing to work toward the partnership’s success, the more you can accomplish together.  Servant leaders keep a ‘How can I help you?’ mindset.  They work as hard at helping others succeed as they work at their own success.  Be a servant leader, whether you’re a manager, subordinate, vendor, or client.  You will be impressed at what you can accomplish in tandem with others.  

Now go make it a great day.

Image above courtesy of: qimono

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