Good managers continually evaluate the performance of their team andthe people that comprise it. This can occur by simply observing interactivityamong the staff or through more formal measures. However, one thing I findextremely influential in determining the causes for employee success or failureis in how well supervisors have provided a positive and supportive workenvironment to help them excel.
It’s the difference between being a task master and a leader. While accountability and personalresponsibility remain paramount to whether an individual will thrive in theirrole, supervisors will undoubtedly play a critical part in that outcome. So beforeI write an employee evaluation or job offer letter, I ask myself threequestions:
Am I putting the right person inthe right job?
Often times, people are hired or moved into roles based solely on theirpast work experience, even though other factors always come into play indetermining someone’s potential in a new gig. A different culture, work tempoor team environment can weigh heavily on the probability for a successfuloutcome.
When I evaluate an individual’s potential, I try to look at much morethan their current performance when considering them for a position, andconsider important intangibles, such as attitude, desire and team chemistry.These traits may not supersede the necessary technical skills required by thenew role, but can certainly inhibit the ability for someone to make positivecontributions to an organization in their absence.
Have I given this person thenecessary resources to do the job?
I’ve seen instances where job titles were in name only, and camewithout the necessary people, processes or technology that should go with it.This can happen through no fault of anyone; for instance, during an economicdownturn, where cost-cutting priorities result in scarce resources.Nevertheless, I do make every attempt to evaluate what support an individualshould have to do their job well.
I’ve also found it to be a good idea to get the opinion of the personin question as to what he or she feels is required; getting them to helpidentify what would be ideal, and, as important, what are the absoluteessential elements required to meet the business objectives of their role. As aresult, I gain an even better understanding of the individual’s creativity andinitiative, and thus offer greater insight if he or she has the skills andpotential necessary to perform in this new position.
What do I need to learn in orderto be a better supporter of this person?
In my opinion, this is the most overlooked question asked, but arguablythe most critical. I’ve learned–often through failure–that putting peoplein new roles or new people in existing positions may require me to develop newsand more effective ways to communicate and encourage in order achieving apositive outcome. Understanding thisahead of time can mitigate any misunderstanding from the start.
This speaks to a much larger trait that I try to emulate; I mustcontinually learn new things in order to stay current. The volumes of booksthat are frequently published on the subject will attest to that. Management isas much art as it is science, so new challenges and opportunities related toemployees will continually arise. The trick is not necessarily to know theanswer at the outset, but know what questions to ask first. I firmly believe that doing so can help meand my team exceed expectations.