Let us connect the dots…The One Minute Management Principles have explained that managers need to set clearly defined goals and work with their people to ensure they know what a good job looks like. Praise progress as it is achieved, redirect and revisit goals for learners who are not achieving and reprimand poor task performance with competent individuals. This all leads to a lift in performance, results and relationships. Sounds simple enough… or does it? Often in business, a theory or principle that is simple to comprehend can be complex to implement. Let us look at how to turn the three secrets of the one minute manager – goal setting, praising and reprimands – into practical skills for building outstanding performance.
The ABCs of Management
The easiest way to turn these secrets into skills is to learn the ABCs. The ABCs of management that is – activators, behaviours and consequences.
Activators are things that must be done by a manager before his team member can be expected to accomplish a goal. These might include ensuring goal alignment, discussing performance standards, and giving clear instructions. Understanding what is important to a team member (including his values and beliefs) can help make these activators even more motivating.
Behaviours are the demonstrated performance – what is said or done by the team member – such as completing end-of-month paperwork, reaching sales targets, shipping orders on time or, conversely, missing deadlines, giving poor customer service or having a high error rate. By observing and monitoring behaviours, a manager gathers real information to guide their future actions.
The consequence is, of course, what the manager does after performance. There are only ever three possibilities here:
- A one minute praising, which should be immediate and specific, as we discussed in the last issue.
- A one minute reprimand or redirect – depending on the experience of the team member. Again, immediate and specific, and importantly supports the individual with reaffirmation (after a reprimand, the person should be thinking about what they did wrong, not about how their manager treated them).
- The most common response by managers today – nothing.
The ‘no response’ option can be the most dangerous of the three. What happens when a new team member is learning to operate a large machine but has not quite understood all the complex instructions? The manager is impressed with the team member’s willingness to learn and confidence, but is not closely monitoring the details of what is really happening… and misses the fact that the team member neglected to close a safety hatch before starting the machine. The manager believes the new team member has ‘got it’ and provides no feedback – he leaves the team member to it. This learner has had no redirection or response at all, and what is most likely to happen is he will continue to work the machine as he did when his manager was ‘supervising’. Of course, you can see the safety implications here.
More commonly, many managers claim they are too busy to give praise when it is due; or feel awkward delivering recognition, so they just leave it alone, and assume that their star people will continue to perform. What often happens is a decline in performance – people adopt the ‘why should I keep trying so hard when they do not even notice?’ attitude, especially when top performers can see they are receiving the same feedback as those who are underperforming… nothing!
To summarize the ABCs, if a manager can learn to understand and deliver the necessary activators and consequences, they can ensure more productive behaviour. A tip to remember: goal setting is always the first step in the management process, and reprimands do not teach skills – therefore, if a person cannot do something, go back to goals and skill development; if a person will not do something, reprimand.
Getting the PRICE right!
The ABCs show how to turn the one minute management principles into action – the next step is integrating these skills into an overall program for continuous performance improvement. The PRICE model goes beyond the ABCs by providing managers with five easy-to-follow steps that can involve everyone in improving performance:
Do not just do something – sit there! Many managers confuse activity with action. It is unfocused activity that leads to the usual frantic, yet inefficient, pace of most organizations. People are running around trying to do things right before anyone has stopped to figure out the right thing to do. This is why it is important for managers to pinpoint key performance areas in observable and measurable terms. For a manager to say he wants increased performance from his people is not specific enough. Managers need to stop saying things are good or bad, but identify specifically what is happening, establish areas to measure, and how they will be measured, in terms of quantity, quality, cost or timeliness.
Once an area for improvement is identified, managers must measure current performance and track progress. This is where record comes in – collecting actual data on how often people miss deadlines, how frequently there is a product rejected for quality reasons and the like. It is very simple to graph this information and keep it as hard data – performance improvement should not be based on guesswork. Once this information is gathered, it is clear exactly where current performance is sitting and what changes need to be made. Given the opportunity for improvement, it is now time for the involve step.
Now it is apparent that improvement is needed, this information must be shared with whoever is responsible (accountable) for that area – the person who can influence performance. It is the manager’s job to share his findings with the individual without judgment and in a learning manner. The time has not yet come to reprimand, and the person should be treated as though he wants to be successful, and has the ability to improve. It is appropriate at this stage to involve the person in establishing the activators – deciding what needs to be set in place before he can reach his goal; this also ensures the goal is realistic. Coaching and evaluation should also be discussed – how much guidance the person will be receiving on this task, how his performance is going to be evaluated and what he can anticipate for improved performance. It is critical to the outcome that consequences for goal accomplishment have been agreed upon in the involve step. Now the person is ready to start improving performance.
At this point, the manager’s role changes to observing the team member’s performance, and managing the consequences. This focuses on praisings and reprimands, and thus begins the coach step in PRICE. Remember, the foundation of good feedback is that it is immediate and specific. Having the recorded data on performance progress makes giving specific feedback much easier. These coaching and feedback sessions should decrease in frequency as people move gradually to the desired level of performance, remembering good performance is a journey, not a destination, and coaching is the process for managing that journey.
This leaves the last piece of the puzzle: evaluate. Evaluation and coaching go hand in hand, as each time a manager gives feedback he is evaluating. However, many managers wait until formal performance review sessions (quarterly, semi-annually, or annually) – this time gap significantly weakens the value of the feedback. The PRICE system recommends that, for pinpointed goal areas, there should be no longer than six weeks before a formal evaluation session, a time to formally recognize progress and evaluate future strategies. There are no winners or losers here, simply a review of what has been accomplished against the goal pinpointed at the start of the process.
To tie the PRICE system together in summary: pinpoint – determine the performance areas of interest, record – measure current performance level and progress, involve – agree on performance goals and strategies for coaching and evaluation, coach – observe performance and manage consequences, and evaluate – track performance progress and determine future strategies.
You will be amazed at the performance gains you can achieve by changing just a few small things about the way in which you lead your people – you have nothing to lose and everything to gain, so why not try it out for yourself… now!
This article is based on the book Putting the One Minute Manager to Work, by Kenneth Blanchard PhD and Robert Lorber PhD.
Ms. Catherine Stapleton is the client relationship manager at Blanchard International. Blanchard International holds the exclusive licence to represent Blanchard in Australia, providing training courses on The One Minute Management Principle, Situational Leadership II® plus many other leadership programs. For more information, visit www.blanchardinternational.com.au, email email@example.com or call 02 9858 2822.