4 Reasons Leaders Don’t Notice Good Performance
What goes unnoticed gradually loses value.
What gets noticed improves.
4 reasons leaders don’t notice good performance:
- Ignorance. Upper-level leaders don’t know what front-line employees and middle-managers are doing.
- Personality. You don’t need people to notice your good work; why should you notice theirs?
- Schedule. You’re too busy to dedicate 15 minutes a day for a noticing walk-about.
- Discomfort. You’ve been a heads-down leader. Noticing good work feels awkward.
4 Ways to Notice:
#1. Overcome ignorance with next level noticing:
- Managers report good performance to higher ups.
- Higher ups walk around noticing good performance.
Once a week every manager sends a brief email to their boss. The email includes:
- The names of three employees.
- A project each employee is currently working on.
- At least one thing each employee is doing well.
- The boss’s boss shows up unannounced to notice…
Hi Wilma. I’m Barney; your boss’s boss. Fred tells me you’re doing a great job on project X. He says that he always wants you working on important projects. He told me that you stick with tasks until you find good solutions. Thanks for your great work.
Don’t focus on measuring. Notice instead.
“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” If this is true, you can’t manage many factors involved in performance.
You can manage behaviors that express initiative, but you can’t manage initiative.
#2. Overcome personality constraints to noticing by believing that everyone ISN’T like you.
You might believe the world would be a better place if people were more like you, but you’re wrong.
#3. Overcome busyness by expecting return on investment from noticing.
One of my friends and *coaching clients committed to a daily walk-about. Performance by all measures improved.
*Tip: Copy your boss when you compliment someone in an email.
#4. Overcome discomfort with noticing good performance by doing it.
What prevents leaders from noticing good performance?
How might leaders overcome reluctance to notice good performance?
Thanks for these reminders…guilty of some!!
Hi Dan, tips for an alternative to a daily walk-about for remote workers?
Good morning Dan,
In a somewhat related note…I often work with other teams and when that experience is praiseworthy, rather than sending the associate a note and cc: their boss, I send their boss a note and cc: the associate.
I’ve found this twist though virtually the same note, has an impact much different. The moral of the store? You don’t have to be their direct supervisor to notice or to recognize good performance.
Our organization has a system that allows peers to show appreciation to peers. It awards the employee with “stars” which can accumulate and be redeemed for gifts. Sadly, this system goes underused, so I used it today for someone who went above and beyond to resolve an issue. Thanks for reminding me to notice others!
Dan – love the idea of the weekly email, I’m going to try this by end of this week.
I completely agree with your first reason, Ignorance, especially in sales. There is a tendency in the sales industry to promote successful sales agents into leadership. It seems like the longer they are in leadership the easier they remember the job being. Which then leads down the ignorance path. I really like your suggestion of, “next level noticing.” I also read your previous blog suggesting a daily walk-about, great reminder.
Thanks for the tips and reminders on the importance of noticing good performance. A few observations: When I first moved from “worker bee” to first-line supervision, your #2 (“Personality. You don’t need people to notice your good work; why should you notice theirs?”) was initially an obstacle for me. I was raised from childhood with a strong work ethic and a desire to do my best at any task I undertook. Wasn’t that what I was paid to do? Isn’t that what the organization paid all of us to do? I soon realized that while it is fine to expect excellence, it is likely to be encountered more often when it is noticed -and immediately rewarded, if only with an encouraging word.. As I moved into middle management, I became a vigorous proponent of the daily walkabout, “trying to catch someone doing something right,” as the saying goes. It was interesting to see the reaction of line employees, at first apprehensive if not downright fearful of my drop-in visits, gradually morph into acceptance and welcome anticipation of my regular contacts. To be honest, getting out among the people doing the real work of the organization was often a welcome break from the often unavoidable minutiae of administrative tasks. When I moved into staff assignments and then top management, my walkabouts continued, but with particular care to avoid stepping on the toes of the management folks between me and the rank and file. Over the years, an increasingly hectic schedule often precluded daily walkabouts of the entire operation, but fifteen minutes daily over the course of a week kept my visits to the operating divisions regular and still very valuable to keeping my finger on the pulse.
Recently, after nearly five years of retirement, I was asked by my organization to return in a temporary staff capacity to advise top management on matters of policy. It is interesting to see how those I mentored have apparently found lasting value in those practices of noticing good performance.
Thanks again for another insightful post!