Three ways to fix Mediocrity

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When  Team’s Performance Is Mediocre, Fit It Quick

Leadership Tip of the week, adapted from HBR

What do you do when someone’s work is OK but not great? The toughest test of a manager isn’t dealing with poor performance — it’s addressing mediocrity. Don’t let lackluster performance fester.

  1. Start by showing how mediocrity negatively affects your team, the organization, and its customers. You could, for example, have middling employees listen in on calls with complaining customers so that they understand the negative effects of not doing their jobs well.
  2. It’s important to share accountability. Encourage your colleagues to immediately and respectfully confront one another when problems arise. There is no way for even the strongest supervisor to see and address every performance gap.
  3. Speak up when you see mediocrity in other parts of the organization. For example, if everyone knows that a corporate initiative isn’t working but no one is discussing it, your team will notice whether you have the integrity to point out the emperor’s lack of clothes.

High performance is a norm that needs to be defended regularly and vigilantly.

Adapted from “What to Do About Mediocrity on Your Team,” by Joseph Grenny

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Watch for signs of stress on your Team

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Watch for Signs of Stress on Your Team

Leadership Tip of the Week

adapted from HBR

As a manager, it’s your job to watch for signs of stress on your team so that you can intervene before someone disengages, gets sick, or needs to take a leave.

Keep an eye out for the warning signs:

  • Does someone on your team seem overly tired or constantly overwhelmed?
  • Have they been unable to control their emotions lately?

Of course, everyone has good and bad days, but most people can regulate their emotions in a way that’s appropriate for the workplace. Outbursts or high and low mood swings can be a sign of stress overload.

If you notice any of these signs, start a conversation with the person. You might ask a simple question, such as “Are you OK?” or “How are you doing?”

And if the person is open to talking, mention the signs you’ve observed and express your concern.

Adapted from “An Early Warning System for Your Team’s Stress Level,” by Thomas Hellwig et al.

Keep Encouraging Colleagues to Learn

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HBR Management Tip of the Week

The best way for organizations to drive the business forward is to make sure that employees are continually learning. Building a LEARNING culture is better than building a KNOWLEDGE culture, because you create an organisation that can continually adapt to the changing world.

What can managers do to encourage learning?

When you’re hiring, look for people who have demonstrated that they’re lifelong learners. Then look for services that provide up-to-date, relevant content on a wide variety of topics.

Don’t worry if your employees want to learn something that’s not directly related to their job.

By learning something new, no matter what it is, they’re practising the skill of learning, which is invaluable. Plus, you never know how learning an unrelated skill can help down the road. But do take an active role in partnering with your employees to figure out the skills they need to develop based on business goals.

And don’t forget to encourage and reward people who demonstrate quick adaptive learning.

Adapted from “To Stay Relevant, Your Company and Employees Must Keep Learning,” by Pat Wadors 

Reward your Team for Learning

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Leadership Tip of Week

adapted from HBR

Many jobs require people to continually develop new skills.

As a manager, you should be less worried with what people know and more concerned about whether they’re able to learn. But it’s not enough to hire curious, adaptable people; you also have to reward them for learning.

When your employees have increased their knowledge and their value to the company, provide them with new and challenging opportunities.

Promote people only when they’ve acquired sufficient expertise in other jobs in the organization, not just their own. Or you could give awards for individuals who organize events or activities to promote learnability in the company (running internal conferences, bringing external speakers, or circulating information that nurtures people’s curiosity).

Reward simpler habits, too, like writing a blog, sharing articles on social media, or recommending books and movies.

Adapted from “It’s the Company’s Job to Help Employees Learn,” by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic and Mara Swan

Create Rules to Collaborate as Team

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Management Tip of the Week

adapted from Harvard Business Review

It’s easy to assume that everyone knows how to work on a team, but most people have individual styles and preferences.

What if one person thinks a 9:00 start time means 9:03 and someone else thinks it means 8:55?

To avoid these common frustrations, create rules of conduct for your team’s collaboration. Rules help clarify how you will collectively make decisions, keep everyone informed, and run meetings.

To start, find or create a boilerplate framework with basic rules for respect, trust, meetings, decision making, and more.

Discuss the rules with your team and agree on which ones you’ll follow.

Review the rules periodically to keep them relevant and quash undesirable behaviors that have emerged.

In addition, conduct a cultural audit of your team by asking about the unwritten rules a new team member would need to know. Then create one combined set of rules that everyone will follow.

Adapted from “Help Your Team Agree on How They’ll Collaborate,” by Mary Shapiro

Have Clear Goals for Your Weekly Meeting

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Just because you have a recurring meeting on your calendar doesn’t mean you have to hold it.

Only convene the group if everyone (especially you, as the meeting leader) is clear on what the objectives are. Agreed-upon goals will keep the agenda focused and ensure you make the most of the time. Here are a few sample objectives to consider:

  •  Share updates and review progress to date, including major milestones or upcoming activities. Ask and answer: “What did I do? What will I do?”
  • Identify questions and concerns related to progress. Ask and answer: “What are the potential roadblocks?”
  • Prioritize and resolve issues and address additional questions.
  • Agree on next steps (for example, what to do if a situation escalates, and what each individual’s role is).

Adapted from HBR Guide to Making Every Meeting Matter

Rework bad ideas instead of dismissing them

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Leadership Tip of Week

adapted from HBR

Successful entrepreneurs rarely dismiss bad ideas outright: They rework them in the hope that there’s a gem yet to be discovered.

After all, the best opportunities aren’t always self-evident. Instead of killing ideas and initiatives when they seem problematic, challenge yourself or your team to push further, reframe the problem and solution, or explore adjacencies.

By bringing new thinking to seemingly bad ideas, you may end up with a breakthrough. Listen to all stakeholders regularly, and don’t stop, even once you’ve decided on a course of action. Pay special attention to new information and edge cases as you go — they often hold clues to move you toward better versions of your idea.

Adapted from “Embracing Bad Ideas to Get to Good Ideas,” by John Geraci