Leadership Stories – Performance Improvement
I am a strong believer in that and using the below technique I trust will improve your good leadership skills.
Several years ago I was part of a senior management team that had just been hand picked to begin a new venture in a major metropolitan market.
Initially everyone on the senior management team reported directly to the Regional Vice President.
My position was the Human Resources Director. I had two Human Resources Managers and two secretarial staff that reported directly to me.
As the dust settled the Regional Vice President had the District Managers, the District Safety Manager, and me reporting directly to him.
Day after day he would come in and complain. Finally one day I told him why don't you just reassign her under my leadership?
Well, be careful what you say, because that is exactly what he did. He reassigned her to me.
Now with an open mind I met with her and set clear expectations of what she was responsible for and what I would like her to accomplish. I set some very immediate goals as well as some medium and long term goals as well.
There were a number of other items. Keep in mind that these were some pretty basic tasks for the amount of salary and the title she held. The tasks above should be second nature. I had no doubt she would handle this and a ton more. She never once seemed to question my expectations.
I set up a weekly meeting with her to go over any challenges she had as well as to give me an update on where we were at and what was going on in the area of safety and training. Of course I told her that she was always welcome to call or visit me anytime. Even if she wanted to just chew the fat, or express a frustration.
Well week one was behind us and it was time for our first meeting since we had officially gotten together.
She showed up to the meeting and seemed frustrated. I asked her what was going on and she told me that she had left the information for our meeting at home. She apologized for this. I gave her the benefit of the doubt and told her lets go ahead and meet anyway.
I asked her to please tell me how her week went. I listened for about five minutes or so about all the problems that she had run into that prevented her from accomplishing any of the short term tasks I had asked her to complete. Two of those tasks were to present a training schedule, and a schedule of safety inspections to be conducted.
I asked her if she could tell me if anyone had not completed their initial orientation training. She gave me everything except a yes or a no. I finally stopped her and asked her for a clear yes or no. She gave me a no.
I asked her why?
She tried to explain that she had been too busy.
I asked her if there was anything I could do to help, but she would first have to let me know what is consuming her time.
I quickly began to wonder how she was appointed to this position. She had been a current employee of the company in another area of the country, where she was hand picked for this particular assignment.
So I asked her some basic questions trying to be respectful. I asked her background in this area prior to being selected.
She went on to explain that she worked under another individual and that they did not get her involved in much of the things that we were asking her to do.
So quickly I pulled out her personnel file and took a look at the resume that she had submitted for the position. It didn't even come close to the description of what she said she had been doing in her last position. So I asked her which one was correct. Her resume or what she just told me.
She hesitated because she knew where this was going. She knew that she had painted herself into a corner. Either she was not telling the truth in her resume, or she was not telling me the truth in her previous statements that I just heard from her.
I explained I really need to know so we can figure this thing out. I need to know how much experience you have in order to go forward. I was very careful not to say anything about her future with us, because at that moment I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. I told her that this was a critical position, and that she needed to be at the top of her game in order to get the things accomplished that needed to be.
Now I was not proud or happy about the outcome other than I was able to quickly sort through the real issues as to why her department was failing. I didn't set out to arrive at this conclusion but, each question I asked supplied me with another piece to the puzzle as to why she was failing.
Good leadership skills require you to be able to know all the different ways to get results. One of my favorite ways is to ask questions.
She started off trying to justify why she was not getting the work done, but in the end her justification sunk her ship.
Never a pleasant moment for anyone!