1. Have I made the level of performance I expect clear to those I manage?
- It is easy to think you have made clear the performance you expect when in fact you have not.
- Perhaps you assumed people knew what you expected.
- Perhaps the standard is clear in your mind but not theirs.
- Perhaps you communicated the standards but the communication process broke down.
- Do your employees really know the performance standards to which you are holding them accountable?
3. Does each employee see the level of performance expected as achievable? This will vary but is crucial. How do employees see the relationship between their efforts and the level of performance required?
- Some employees know they can achieve the standards.
- Others may have doubts. Why those doubts? Do they need training? Equipment? Coaching? Or are there other issues distracting them from their efforts?
- In a few cases, the person-job match may not be a good one.
4. Do I give feedback and hold employees accountable?
Sometimes employees may not understand what is expected or may not realize they are not measuring up to expectations. Without feedback they will not know.
- To develop employees, feedback is essential.
- Give positive feedback where warranted.
- Give corrective feedback where needed.
5. Do I make clear to employees the relationship between their performance and outcomes they desire? Feedback from managers in corporate America: This is where we drop the ball.
- Link performance to individually desired outcomes wherever possible.
- Unless everyone performs equally, don't reward everyone equally
- If there is little or no relationship between performance and outcomes, why reward?
6. Do I know the outcomes that employees really value? This can be tough. Nearly all want to keep their jobs, perhaps increase pay, achieve desired promotions. The tickets to the professional baseball game that everyone received may be nice for some but not for all. If I do not value the outcomes, my motivation will be low. Highly desired outcomes can vary widely from person to person.
- If your span of control is 20 or less, you may know your direct reports well enough to know the outcomes they really want.
At the Academy of Management meeting in Boston in 2012, I listened to Vic Vroom talk about his career and his expectancy theory. He said that if he were developing expectancy theory today, he would give more thought to intrinsic rewards. For managers, it is easier to manage extrinsic motivational factors (pay, benefits, etc.) than intrinsic factors (job satisfaction, feeling of accomplishment, meaningfulness of work, etc.). But sometimes the most valued outcomes may be intrinsic. A simple “great job” may make someone's day.
Modified from my original article published online, October 8, 2014, in the American Management Association's Playbook.
Image by edman_eu. Obtained from https://pixabay.com/illustrations/graph-success-cooperation-together-1019845/
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© John Ballard, PhD, 2019. All rights reserved.
Decoding the Workplace “deals with principles and practices that are timeless . . . Is this a must-have for managers and would-be managers? Yes.” Academy of Management Learning & Education, June, 2018.