Relax, things are going great! What’s to worry??

Anyone who manages a group of consistently good performers knows it doesn’t happen by accident. Not at all.

It takes some real dedication, measured amounts of managerial finesse, and genuine concern.

ManagementAnd the first time a manager fools himself into thinking, since things are tracking along so well, it’s OK to set it on cruise control, you’d better hold on tight. There are surely curves ahead.

Every team member, even high-octane A-players, needs regular attention and maintenance from their managers to stay at their best. This is especially true when things are going well because that’s when you have the most to lose.

So, what are some of the thing you can do to keep people rolling along when they are running smoothly at wide open throttle?

Proven leaders keep an eye on key performance gauges, so employees can keep the pedal to the metal.

Here are four gauges to watch, and tend to:

Confidence

Good people don’t wake up thinking:  “I’m going to do a lousy job at work today.”  When a good performance starts to slip, it’s probably not a lack of desire.

You're Fired!
More often, it is a lack of confidence to perform a certain task, or to perform at a certain level. The person is likely anticipating failure, rejection – or maybe worse.

Empowering confidence is a mixture of skills training and ego boosting. Managers can ask questions and rely on their own experiences to identify the skills an employee might need to upgrade.

As for confidence, people grow more self-reliant when they feel assured they have the trust and backing of the organization – and that needs to be communicated. Be sure they know it’s important to learn, and it’s expected they might falter along the way.

Communication

It sounds so very simple, yet organizations are always struggling with communication.  The ability to talk to people in an open and direct fashion is perhaps the world’s No. 1 coaching and team-building technique.

Praise for a task done well will consistently do more for performance than any other managerial tactic, bar none. Helping a good employee learn from a mistake, and get better, works wonders.

Coaching communication should be clear, specific as to what’s needed and candid about the consequences.

Try to keep yourself in a position where you can freely explain the end game. It’s good to tell people where they stand, where the organization is headed and how you plan to get there.

Rewards and recognition

In the workplace, a carrot is always better than a stick.

Positive rewards not only engage people, but they’ll help you retain talent and accelerate performance.

Take the time to tailor incentives.  People are different and what motivates one employee can fall flat with another. It pays to personalize it.

Some people love ballet tickets. Others view it as being skinned alive. New tires? A round of golf?

As a manager, it’s pays to figure out what motivates each individual. Different strokes for different folks.

Recognition should be genuine, and fairly simple. Single out someone for going above and beyond. When you do that in a real way, everyone gets it.

Dead weight

One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch. Letting a sluggard get away with inefficiency or slacking off sends a powerful message to the rest of your workers: Goofing off is tolerated.

Dealing with poor performers is never pleasant, but neither is dragging down the entire team.

It’s important that poor performers be given the opportunity, tools and knowledge to improve, and that they get fair warnings along the way.

But if the time comes to pull the plug, don’t put off the inevitable.

Deliver the news with compassion and consideration, and don’t leave room for false hope or a stay of execution. Making the break cleanly and completely will also send a powerful message to the remaining members of your staff that, should the same fate befall them, they can expect humane, civil treatment.

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