3 Ways to Meet People Where They Are on New Tasks and Processes
“So many of us are dealing with changes to our work routines. It’s generating a mountain of new requests and tasks that require us to get things done using new guidelines, practices, and procedures,” says bestselling business author Dr. Vicki Halsey, VP of Applied Learning at The Ken Blanchard Companies.
“Leaders need to: (1) be sure direct reports are clear on what they have to do; (2) work with each of them to diagnose where they are on each task; and (3) get them the resources they need to succeed,” explains Halsey. “Managers need to be as clear as possible about what a good job looks like.
This can be more difficult than it seems on the surface—for example, when there are conflicting priorities. Managers are often asked to hit output quotas at a high level of quality but under a certain budget. In a call centre, this might translate to workers being urged to solve every customer’s problem the first time they call while also maintaining a call volume of more than 20 calls answered per hour. That’s a huge challenge. The best organisations get clear on what is most important and set specific, trackable, and attainable goals while striving to maintain motivation and avoid burnout.”
Once goals are set, leaders need to be attentive to each individual’s level of competence and commitment for the new task or new way of doing things. Diagnosing development level is key, says Halsey.
“Help people see where they are on a specific task in terms of ability and motivation, which we describe as competence and commitment. A person can be high or low on either scale. When these measurements are combined, the person will end up at one of four development levels such as Disillusioned Learner (low on commitment, low on competence) and Self-Reliant Achiever (high on commitment, high on competence).
“As a leader, you need to listen and observe very carefully. If the person is a learner, you help solve the problem for them. If they’ve had some demonstrable success but they’re a little hesitant, you flip the conversation and ask them how they think they should solve the problem.”
Halsey says in all cases, the leader must stay involved.
“If you leave people alone, that’s when they will move the task to the next day’s to-do list. If you want to keep accelerating their performance, you have to stay with them. Are they letting you know their status on a task, or have they gone silent? Go and check with them. If you notice you’re not seeing the person as much as you used to, you need to connect with them, figure out where they’re stuck, and get them back on track.
“Your goal as a leader is to keep the conversations flowing. That’s the secret to productivity—clear goals, people aligned on performance, and being able to diagnose and then give what is needed to ensure they get the job done. When you accomplish that, you are working in a highly productive, aligned manner,” says Halsey. “That’s good for you, your people, and your organisation!”
About the author:
David Witt is a Program Director for The Ken Blanchard Companies. He is an award-winning researcher and host of the companies’ monthly webinar series. David has also authored or coauthored articles in Fast Company, Human Resource Development Review, Chief Learning Officer and US Business Review.