Talk about Behavior First

Chapter 5 Pg’s 128-130 Lead With Love

We all know that job performance is that we must focus on. Our expectations are the driving force for our leadership position. If our associates’ performance is either superior or unsatisfactory, we must offer them feedback. However, we must also understand that all individual performance is a function of behavior. If associates come to the job with severe behavioral limitations, then their job performance will be negative. If they come to the job with certain essential weaknesses that could be improved in order to substantially improve job performance, then we have a duty to provide feedback. It’s the duty of a leader, I should say, who truly loves and cares about his or her associates’ success.

 If what people are and how they behave can make a difference in expectations, then we must, as leaders, focus on those. Qualities like intelligence and the ability to reason, to think logically, to articulate ideas, and to function under stress help to define what people are and how they will perform. So do the capacity to relate to people, the intensity of the work ethic, and much more. You need to know your associates. It is not  enough to say, “You did a great job.” You need to understand them as whole beings.

 A good way to do this is to use “trait reviews.” These are not report cards on behavior like children get in elementary school, but they do have one critical resemblance: they give feedback on behavior characteristics that can influence the ability to perform. The goal must be to focus on results, on performance compared to expectations; however, it is equally important to give feedback on traits that either help or hinder success. If an associate has difficulty developing working relationships with her peers, that weakness will have a major influence on her ability to achieve results in almost any organization. Effective feedback, counseling, and developmental support are critical if the associate is going to become a superior performer. If you choose to avoid this sensitive psychological issue, you will cheat the employee of support that could make a huge difference in both current and future assignments. If you really have the capacity to love an associate, you must take on this topic and attempt to help the individual deal with the shortcoming. Of course, how effective you are will depend in large measure on the individual’s receptivity; however, your performance is critical also. If you give feedback in a manner sensitive to the recipient’s mindset—in other words, if you “walk in her shoes”—you will have a much better chance of being heard and heeded than if you chose to preach and moralize. Giving speeches may make you feel better, but the tone may also make an associate reject what you say. The associate must acknowledge the weakness and accept it as an issue that requires change. No amount of preaching brings positive change if you alienate the associate. Only when the individual acknowledges the problem can a solution be found and implemented. By the same token, if you never raise the issue because you think psychology is not your role, then you will probably fail to provide your contribution to the development of a superior performer. This part of evaluation is hard work, but it is what leaders must do if they are to play their role well. Helping to make winners is not always easy, but it will always be rewarding for a leader who begins with love.

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