Don’t Manage Performance, Motivate It

Team leaders may operate with the best intentions, but traditional management methods are often impersonal and leave employees unmotivated. Christine Comaford, leadership consultant and author of Smart Tribes, makes the case in an article for Forbes that performance motivation—not management— represents the ideal strategy in the workplace, and she lays out four tactics that all leaders need to shift toward.

Describe impact, not expectations

Christine encourages team leaders to frame employees’ roles in terms of their potential impact, instead of encumbering them with expectations. And this mentality begins even before the first job interview. In Christine’s experience, she finds that “using impact descriptions instead of job descriptions…help both your team and your candidates understand that every role exists to impact the organization.”

This approach will resonate with the right candidates; it also conveys to them, and the rest of your team, how that role will contribute to your company’s goal. At Lessonly, a Lesson built specifically for this purpose explains how the marketing team’s goal of bringing in leads ties into overall company goals. Explicitly defining the impact of a job, rather than a description, tells employees how they can be effective, not just how to do a job.

Christine calls the second tactic of performance motivation “Needle Movers,” which she describes as:

… a given result that will have a significant impact on the success of a business. What are the three results that will make the greatest difference this year? Set a target (what you want), minimum (worst case scenario) and mind blower (what will rock your world) for each Needle Mover.

Needle Movers should carry more weight than a traditional performance goal. Employees who understand how the company benefits from hitting Needle Movers are more productive and more engaged in helping shape the company. And achieving this level of motivation is doable when leaders buy-in and encourage employees at all levels to think this way.

Encourage development and evaluation

The employees who truly want to see their company grow are also usually the employees most invested in their own personal growth. Individual Development Plans for employees are “commitments from the company to the individual to help them grow to provide them with new opportunities and challenges.” Christine notes that both the employee and their leader should co-create IDPs as a pact promising growth and safety for both parties. When managers challenge employees to do better work, the company thrives, and when the company thrives, employees benefit.

Finally, Christine champions the idea that annual performance reviews often create more stress than motivation and suggests that, instead, team leaders emphasize more regular performance self-evaluations. We agree. Employees can use a simple scale and self-evaluation phrases to help explain their growth at regular intervals, with a team leader present “to listen, reflect, offer feedback, and help the team member.”

Lessonly offers a great vehicle for capturing and tracking feedback over time, allowing leaders to store responses in the Gradebook. Seeing how self-assessments evolve over time can give an accurate representation into the growth and development of employees.

The line between performance management and performance motivation is thin and requires a lot of communication. Lessonly excels at standardizing company communication and learning. Take our tour to see for yourself. Sign up today.

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