Good managers continually evaluate the performance of their team and
the people that comprise it. This can occur by simply observing interactivity
among the staff or through more formal measures. However, one thing I find
extremely influential in determining the causes for employee success or failure
is in how well supervisors have provided a positive and supportive work
environment to help them excel.
It’s the difference between being a task master and a leader. While accountability and personal
responsibility remain paramount to whether an individual will thrive in their
role, supervisors will undoubtedly play a critical part in that outcome. So before
I write an employee evaluation or job offer letter, I ask myself three
Am I putting the right person in
the right job?
Often times, people are hired or moved into roles based solely on their
past work experience, even though other factors always come into play in
determining someone’s potential in a new gig. A different culture, work tempo
or team environment can weigh heavily on the probability for a successful
When I evaluate an individual’s potential, I try to look at much more
than their current performance when considering them for a position, and
consider important intangibles, such as attitude, desire and team chemistry.
These traits may not supersede the necessary technical skills required by the
new role, but can certainly inhibit the ability for someone to make positive
contributions to an organization in their absence.
Have I given this person the
necessary resources to do the job?
I’ve seen instances where job titles were in name only, and came
without the necessary people, processes or technology that should go with it.
This can happen through no fault of anyone; for instance, during an economic
downturn, where cost-cutting priorities result in scarce resources.
Nevertheless, I do make every attempt to evaluate what support an individual
should have to do their job well.
I’ve also found it to be a good idea to get the opinion of the person
in question as to what he or she feels is required; getting them to help
identify what would be ideal, and, as important, what are the absolute
essential elements required to meet the business objectives of their role. As a
result, I gain an even better understanding of the individual’s creativity and
initiative, and thus offer greater insight if he or she has the skills and
potential necessary to perform in this new position.
What do I need to learn in order
to be a better supporter of this person?
In my opinion, this is the most overlooked question asked, but arguably
the most critical. I’ve learned–often through failure–that putting people
in new roles or new people in existing positions may require me to develop news
and more effective ways to communicate and encourage in order achieving a
positive outcome. Understanding this
ahead of time can mitigate any misunderstanding from the start.
This speaks to a much larger trait that I try to emulate; I must
continually learn new things in order to stay current. The volumes of books
that are frequently published on the subject will attest to that. Management is
as much art as it is science, so new challenges and opportunities related to
employees will continually arise. The trick is not necessarily to know the
answer at the outset, but know what questions to ask first. I firmly believe that doing so can help me
and my team exceed expectations.