Planning, Preparing, and Preventing: Keys to Enhancing Authority

Making team members aware of the importance of their work and how best to get it done prevents most problems that affect performance. Most performance problems fall into three general areas: problems related to training, problems arising in an environment which the team member cannot control, and problems of motivation. To prevent problems and increase your effectiveness, incorporate these four strategies into your training and motivation program:

1. Fit the job to the team member. Aptitude, qualifications, interest, skill, physical fitness, and mental capacity are essential for good performance, so take great care to match assignments with each team member. Individuals who are ill-suited to their work frequently grow bored or frustrated and become dormant volcanoes likely to erupt into active problems at any moment. For some team members, assignments that provide frequent opportunities for small successes are essential for building their confidence in preparing them for new, more difficult projects. On the other hand, the more performance-oriented top producers often need assignments that provide increased mental and emotional challenge to prevent decreased motivation and loss of momentum.

2. Provide adequate training for the job. Under trained workers frequently become confused, frustrated, bored, or all three. Their potential is not being maximized. You can prevent most poor performance and negative behavior by communicating clearly to the members of your work group what they are expected to do, and by training them consistently on how to do it.

3. Provide necessary tools, supplies, and procedures. An employee whose efforts are thwarted by a lack of information, supplies, or equipment cannot satisfy the requirements of the work situation. Provide clear instructions, possibly with a manual or handbook identifying and describing your organization’s expectations and procedures. A physical environment that encourages productivity is often overlooked but is very important. Make sure your team members have what they need to do their best work.

4. Give team members periodic feedback about their performance. Periodic feedback about their performance lets people know when they need to take corrective action to get back on track. In addition, feedback affirms people who are performing well and lets them know they can enjoy the satisfaction that comes from meeting expectations for their work. Communicate clearly and frequently to the members of your work team how their particular jobs contribute to the overall work of the organization. If their work seems to go unnoticed, team members may assume that either the work itself or the quality does not really matter. Or they may simply be unaware that they need to take corrective action. When feedback quickly follows poor performance and corrective action is agreed upon, team members are less likely to repeat mistakes. They are also more receptive to corrective action whenever it is needed. In addition, feedback motivates team members to work toward the ultimate goal of discipline – assuming responsibility for monitoring their own work. As a leader, you are responsible for training and motivating your employees to become contributing members of a high performance team.

Taking Corrective Action

An integral part of working with and through people to accomplish desired results is taking corrective action when it’s needed. Discard any fear that upholding high standards hurts relationships with your team members. On the contrary, avoiding corrective action and failing to help each member make a positive contribution to the team projects an impression of weakness and is a sure way to lose the respect of your team members, diminish your authority, destroy motivation, and jeopardize the results you are seeking.

When problem behavior occurs, the first step in correcting it is to define the real problem. Find out whether the employee can perform in an acceptable manner. Ability to perform depends upon adequate training, supplies, materials, and information, all of which are part of the work environment. Ask questions to learn whether the employee knows what performance is desirable, knows how to do the job, and understands the requirement in question. The answers you receive reveal whether the problem involves training. If it is a training problem, provide the instruction needed. If training is adequate, next find out whether anything in the environment is preventing satisfactory performance. Are the necessary materials available? Is equipment in good order? Is information available about standards, deadlines, or other pertinent details? If a problem exists in the environment, it is your responsibility to solve it. Learn to ask pertinent questions and to listen attentively as you seek the best solution to motivation and other problems with lack of productivity.



Leadership Management® Institute
Reprinted with permission
Strategic Essentials is a Managing Partner for Leadership Management® International, Inc.

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