So, you have a team member who isn’t performing.
It’s easy in this situation for leaders to fall prey to the fundamental attribution error where we attribute another’s actions to their character or personality, while attributing our own behaviour to external situational factors outside of our control. In other words, we tend to cut ourselves a break while holding others 100 percent accountable for their actions!
What if I told you that the source of their performance issue may be your leadership?
A global study conducted by Gallup revealed that a sobering 50% of employees don’t know what’s expected of them in their job. If you’re asking for performance without getting clear with each team member (and the team as a whole) on what’s expected of them in the first place, that’s on you.
Setting clear expectations for each specific role, and what success looks like for your team as a whole, is something we should communicate upfront and consistently. As Brene Brown says, “clear is kind.”
Clarity around what’s expected when it comes to behaviours and outputs:
- Helps your team members focus on what they should be doing (and perhaps more importantly what they shouldn’t be doing)
- Prevents high-performing team members from having to pick up the slack
- Reduces frustration and passive resentment within your team
- Enables your team to track their progress as they work toward their goals
- Help you bin all of the unproductive or unhelpful behaviours that cause issues in team culture
When onboarding a new team member, starting a new project, or even when you’re assigning specific tasks, the GETSET model is a helpful tool. Each letter in the acronym is a checklist for you as their leader to tick off before leaving your team members to their own devices. With a clear idea of what success looks like, there’s less chance of things coming unstuck later.
First, get clear yourself on what success would look like if they were completing this role or task effectively. What would we see? How would you know? Are there any subtasks, information or steps that they need to make sure they’re clear on their objectives and responsibilities?
Be explicit when it comes to outputs and behaviours. “Be organised” doesn’t cut it – it’s what we call a ‘blur word’ and it’s too vague to be helpful. “Send through the meeting agenda a day in advance” is much better – it’s an explicit action that your team members know to follow.
Even if these expectations are stated in the job description, walk your team member through them again when they’re coming on board. Ask them about what tasks they feel more or less confident about completing and offer the opportunity for them to tell you anything they’re unsure about. This should be a two-way conversation. Make it safe for them to be upfront with you about where they might need extra help. This gives you both an indication of where your support is needed.
Ask your team member what they think success looks like, then compare and agree on a shared set of expectations. You can apply this to the team as a whole if you’re achieving as a team. What do they think success is? This is more likely to get their commitment, rather than merely compliance, when it comes to performance.
Believe that your team can succeed. Offer them loads of encouragement and positive feedback as they go along. Catch them doing well and show them that you believe in them.
Agree with team members up front how you’re all going to monitor performance. How will we know when we have succeeded? What will we measure? At what intervals will you check in together to see how they’re going?
Expectations and goals should be active conversations between a leader and those they lead – and the more conversations upfront we have, the less likely you’ll have issues later on. Using the GETSET model can help you do this.
With clarity, you’re giving your team members a better chance to succeed. The organisation, your team, and your performance metrics will thank you for it.