Posted On March 15, 2014

three rubber ducks

Working with organisations to improve their people’s performance is rewarding work. But after a while, you think everyone has solved the big issues of managing people. Managers everywhere clearly outline expectations, communicate effectively, hold people accountable, and address performance issues in a timely and supportive matter… right?

Maybe not!

I recently heard a story from a colleague about a people manager. A member of their team had a punctuality problem and was late most days, to the annoyance of colleagues. The manager could have spoken with the person saying, “Hey, your start time is 9 am and you need to be in by 9. Is there something preventing you from coming in? We need to address this or go into performance recovery” and address the problem head on.

Instead, the manager chose to say nothing and schedule meetings for 9 am and not invite the tardy team member, saying “But you’re never in at 9” when the person asked why they weren’t invited to meetings that they should have attended. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the employee’s behaviour did not change.

Having recently re-read The Secret: What Great Leaders Know and Do by Ken Blanchard and Mark Miller, I was reminded that being a good people manager is not theoretically complex. But our people manager story above shows that it is hard in practice – sitting in front of someone you see every day, someone that you might want to like you, and calling them out on poor performance or bad behaviour can be confronting, challenging and uncomfortable. It can open up conversations that you may not really want to have, about the person’s personal life or work satisfaction.

But it is worth it to go through that discomfort. Your team will appreciate your interest and candour and individual performance should then meet your expectations… because they will know what your expectations are.

No matter how long you have been a people manager, it is always valuable to revisit the basics and check that you are doing what you know you should.

Find Blanchard and Miller’s The Secret: What Great Leaders Know and Do at your local or online bookshop. You can also find out more about this and other useful management books at Ken Blanchard’s website, .

To acquire, refresh or improve your people management skills, come to TP3’s Leadership: Managing People course.