Here’s a case study: 

Julie has been with Company ABC for two years. Jonathan, her manager, pulls her in his office for an annual performance review. Part of her “developmental needs” focus on her time management skills and her customer service phone skills. What he doesn’t know is she gets very nervous when a customer presents her with objections or complaints. She doesn’t feel prepared and doesn’t know who to ask for help fearing reprimand.

As a result, she spends more time than needed on the call trying to handle these negative conversations herself, only compounding the anxiety she is experiencing, and creating delays with customers or within the call queue. 

Here’s an alternative: Jonathan could involve Julie her in the pre-review process and meet more frequently (for example, quarterly). He could ask her about how she feels about her performance, for example, “Julie, are you pleased with your customer service skills? How can we help you get more calls completed during the day? Are there any areas of the job that are bothering you where we could offer continued support? What recommendations would you have where we can help advance your confidence or skills?”

Are you a manager struggling to gain leadership acceptance? Consider asking yourself these self-evaluation questions:

  • Do you regularly ask your employees for their input on how they feel they are performing? Don’t wait until it’s review-time. Learn and support along the way then reinforce what you already know.
  • Do you sincerely engage in conversations with your employees to show that you value them not only as workers, but as people with needs and goals of their own? Appreciation not only drives more of the behaviors you like, but stimulates others to demonstrate the same.
  • Do you have a good gauge on where your employees hope to be with the company in one, five or ten years? Do you map out with them how they can get there? A career path is the equivalent of hope that helps drive tenure and motivates personal development toward that goal.
  • Do your employees approach you for help or do they avoid your input? Trust is a the most powerful tool when providing feedback. If I don’t trust your motivation, how likely am I do make the changes you see and how likely am I to appreciate a career trajectory?

Being an effective leader involves understanding someone’s needs – through their eyes.  A great conversation is the sharing of perspectives learning what motivates someone to move in the direction that both the company and individual want.  

Show that you truly care by asking questions about what affects them. In turn, your actual performance levels will climb to match your desired performance levels by sheer inertia.