As summer draws to a close mid-year performance conversations are in sight. The most fruitful are those that continue an existing conversation – whatever crops up shouldn’t come as a surprise. Research shows that simply being noticed boosts performance; here’s how to show you’re paying attention.
1. Make it overt.
No-one likes to feel as though they’re being spied on. Be open about when and why you’ll observe your team members’ performance, and clear on what ‘excellent’ looks like. People are far less tempted to slack off if they know their efforts are noticed.
2. Be specific.
In the same way that describing a child’s drawing is now considered better parenting practice than saying “it’s beautiful”, effective attention means giving specific, fair and accurate feedback about what you noticed, before offering your interpretation.
3. Hold them to account.
Feedback’s value is limited if there’s no follow-up. Individuals are responsible for their own success so ask how they will get to ‘excellent’. That doesn’t mean they need to have all the answers – if you know a way they could improve, tell them.
4. Do it often.
Feedback feels awkward when it’s delivered stiffly once or twice a year. Make paying attention part of your weekly or daily regime and have regular, informal chats about what you’ve noticed. The immediate benefits will make initial discomfort worthwhile.
5. Be consistent.
No matter what our intentions, it’s human nature to be drawn more towards certain individuals. Whether it’s paying more attention to the employee whose home town you share, or noticing only the shortcomings of someone who performed poorly last year, be aware of your biases and keep them in check.