We all confront the same difficulty, whether we're a boss, a parent, a coach, or a teacher: encouraging someone to perform better or at least differently.
We are in the same boat. Don't we seem to want to be better? Thomas K. Connellan has done a lot of research on this subject.
He has come up with an approach that we can use in any of the above circumstances to assist our employees in developing and feeling better about themselves. For the following 10 minutes, we'll show you how.
Lesson 1: Greatness 101
How can we encourage individuals to be their best selves? What can we do to help them reach their greatest potential?
We're not seeking greatness (not everyone can be great), but we want our teams to perform better than they are now. We can, however, learn from the great.
Connellan's research revealed an intriguing trend: when looking at the highest achievers, study after study found a significant percentage of firstborns among them.
Why? Parents are intuitively good at raising their eldest children, it turns out. What's important is the setting and attention, not the reality of being born first. Three things struck out to me:
- Expectations: People have higher hopes for firstborn children. They're going to be presidents, or amazing athletes, or wealthy business people.
- Responsibility: At a younger age, firstborns are assigned more responsibility. They are given team leader duty among a group of youngsters, taking care of money, mobile phones, and enforcing regulations. They watch after younger siblings and sisters.
- Feedback: Firstborns are given greater input. Parents, relatives, and friends of the family pay more attention to them. They are photographed more frequently. Parents devote more time to teaching their children how to walk and talk.
Connellan created his model on this foundation. His research is equally applicable to company performance.
He proposes a simple approach: as a leader, we must intentionally and appropriately trust people, hold them accountable, and provide a supportive atmosphere.
Most people engage in part of each of the three activities, but not all of them simultaneously. Some people, for example, overdo responsibility but underdo encouraging feedback. The trick is to strike the correct balance.
Let us just take a closer look at each of the criteria to see what we can do.
Lesson 2: Positive Expectations
What is the reason for being positive? Let's be honest about it. We all have high standards for ourselves and others. Sadly, we have set ourselves up for a fall as a result of our actions.
Setting a high standard implies we're always comparing ourselves (or others) to the unreachable. Connellan proposes a different approach.
Positive expectations should be considered. Positive expectations indicate that there is a belief in success and that belief fosters achievement. Moreover, this concept may be transmitted in a variety of ways as a means of encouragement.
We regularly communicate to others what we expect of them just by our eye contact and body language, even if we aren't conscious of it. You must have had that chastising look from an unhappy partner or coworker at some time in your life. These are the warning flags we must be aware of.
We must positively employ nonverbal cues with the idea that "we can do it."
Connellan also brings up the notion that expectations must begin with existing reality. Setting unrealistic goals that are too tough to reach and too far off from the current circumstances is pointless.
What's going on right now is our starting point. We want our teams to undertake a progressive, if not difficult, yet realistic path away from the existing status quo.
People will react if we convey our expectations consistently and effectively through words, speaking style, nonverbal cues, and environment.
Lesson 3: Realistic Accountability
Accountability, according to Connellan, is a critical concern. The lack of responsibility leads to mediocrity.
Even though many people may have contributed to the end outcome, someone must be held accountable. There will be no blame. It's completely up to you. Connellan outlines four stages for achieving accountability:
Step 1: Establish Accountability.
We must allocate responsibility without assigning blame. This refers to the necessity to cultivate a positive attitude.
People are encouraged to strive a little more and take calculated risks when held accountable without blaming. Accountability based on blame entails employees not raising their heads above the parapet and achieving only the bare minimum.
Step 2: Set Goals.
We need to establish clear objectives and enlist everyone's help. Goals assist in two ways. They instill a proactive attitude as well as a sense of focus. The mix of these factors is critical.
Many people become lost in a rut of activities that may or may not be important if they lack concentration. People lose concentration and become engrossed in planning and analyzing, never going forward.
Goals require assistance as well. Setting a goal for someone capable above their current abilities might be difficult. The more help integrated into the system, the more quickly people can grow.
Step 3: We Need to Develop Action Plans.
Goals are never achieved by chance. They are the result of deliberate design. Action plans, according to Connellan, are "insurance" that you'll complete your objectives.
However, action plans do not have to be set in stone. We can detect if we are progressing and, if not, adopt an alternative course if we have a clear understanding of our aim.
The After Action Review is a wonderful illustration of this in action. These are utilized in the military and ask four basic questions following every recognizable event:
- What would happen?
- So, what exactly happened?
- What accounts for the disparity?
- What can we do to bridge the gaps?
Our strategies may be matched to goals by using the AAR concept.
Step 4: Engage.
The more individuals involved in goal-setting, planning, and tracking progress, the more accountable they get to be.
We may boost employee engagement by including them in the creation of essential procedures like quality assurance. This is true in every field, including healthcare, commerce, sports, manufacturing, education, and even at home with your children.
The more individuals that are participating, the more ownership they feel. We need to concentrate more on their accomplishments as they take greater ownership.
Lesson 4: Feedback and Development
There are many different types of feedback. If a team member improves, we may congratulate them, criticize them, say they might have done better, or say nothing at all. Each of them is a form of feedback.
There are three options: positive, negative, and none—Connellan elaborates on these points.
Positive reinforcement comes in the form of positive feedback. It's invigorating, validates hard work, and encourages the recipient to accomplish more. It's effective.
Negative feedback is a kind of retaliation. It's refreshing but in a bad way. It makes the receiver feel as though they are being penalized for attempting if it is employed when an achievement doesn't quite meet the grade. People cease trying when they are punished for doing so daily.
Extinction is the result of no feedback. It is worse than negative feedback. If you disregard bad performance, it will almost certainly happen again. You are effectively discouraging effort if you dismiss good achievement. As a result, the action will dwindle, and the favorable results will be lost. There's a negative, and then there's a negative. Lose-Lose.
What is the most difficult to accept? We all need attention, whether good or bad. It is possible that doing good will motivate us to do more. Bad things might encourage us to do better. None? We have given up. So here's Connellan's recommendation:
Immediate reinforcement is required. Performance should be rewarded as closely as feasible. Today, not tomorrow. Any improvement, not just greatness, should be rewarded. Any indication of development should be noted. Even small steps forward are better than none at all.
Make a special effort to reinforce. Be explicit about what you're looking for. Tell them so that they can figure out what they should do more of. Continuously reinforce the new behavior. Intermittently reinforce excellent behaviors.
The latter two points require a little more explanation. There are two sorts of reinforcement styles, according to Connellan: continuous and intermittent.
When taking on new recruits and enhancing their abilities, continuous reinforcement is the greatest way to foster new habits. We can, however, transition to intermittent reinforcement if someone has established a decent, consistent level of performance.
People at that level are aware of when they are performing well and may reinforce their efforts. All they want is occasional validation of their worth and perhaps additional attention when their performance is exceptional.
Feedback should be focused on achieving a specific objective. A goal may be a strong motivation. When a plan is set, individuals want to meet or surpass it, whether in marketing or somewhere else.
Individuals can track their own progress using goals or targets. Suppose people keep track of the information themselves. In that case, they are more inclined to believe it, especially if they are underperforming and can discover flaws before others.
Feedback should be sent as soon as possible. The issue with yearly assessments is that they are just that: annual appraisals. Feedback should be given regularly, and evaluations should be done after the activity has been recognized.
Whatever feedback method is utilized, it should occur more often than the activity's cycle. If monthly activities are assessed, for instance, weekly feedback is advantageous. If daily goals are specified, such as at a call center, hourly feedback is preferred. Feedback should be delivered at a faster rate than the action.
Visual feedback is also the easiest way to keep track of it. "A picture is worth a thousand words," Napoleon, the "Le Petit General," is believed to have remarked.
To illustrate performance and feedback, we should utilize tables, graphs, charts, or illustrations.
Lastly, Connellan offers some words of wisdom about growth.
He walks us through five methods for talking about performance issues in a way that encourages commitment instead of unenthusiastic conformity.
1. Identify the problem. State the performance difficulties before going into the details. Make it a simple factual statement. Don't make snap decisions, assign blame, or leap to the answer right away. The individual should realize that we are not criticizing them but rather outlining a problem with their behavior or performance that needs to be rectified.
2. Seek out answers. Ask a neutral, future-oriented inquiry as a follow-up. Only the questions you ask are answered. So, if you're seeking answers, ask questions focused on the goals rather than previous performance.
3. Look at your options. Don't assess each notion as it comes up. Gather as many ideas as possible, examining every possibility and road to a solution. Don't give up when you get the response you want. Pay attention to alternatives, especially if the other parties hint that they will assume ownership.
4. Recognize and reward positive responses. This efficiently restores positive feedback and avoids an us-versus-them situation. Concentrate your efforts on the finest possibilities. The goal is to transform the issue into an opportunity. A chance that the team member wanted to seize as their own personal challenge.
5. Complete the deal. Bring everything to a close. Obtain their commitment to completing a certain goal or achieving specific objectives. Summarize the conversation and provide a solution. Assemble a list of future performance goals. Include positive remarks about their readiness to cooperate and their assistance in finding an answer during the wrap-up. Then take a step back and let them take over.
Now you have it: some fantastic, concrete advice on how to get the best out of your team, family, and yourself. To take it a step further, utilize our Smart Discussion Guide to have an immediate Lunch & Learn with your team. They should discover new methods to help them improve their performance.