Let’s recap. You have:
- Learned and understood the benefits of a healthy organization
- Built a cohesive leadership team
- Created the clarity that establishes “who you are” by answering the key questions: Why do we exist? How do we behave? What do we do? How will we succeed?
- Discovered what is most important for your organization right now and designated specific people to be accountable for seeing these things through
- Recruited, hired, and onboarded excellent people who are both right for your organization and right for the role / responsibilities
Congratulations – this is no small task! Now, we begin a new chapter in your leadership journey. Of the many names that could describe it, “retention” seems to be quite fitting. As we will discuss in the next few blogs, understanding what motivates people – appropriately managing performance, rewarding and recognizing, developing, disciplining, dismissing – will all factor heavily in your ability to retain individuals who advance your organization. As such, let’s talk about performance and how great leaders manage it.
Every member of your “body” (your organization) has a specific and unique function that is in part crafted by both WHAT your body needs (to function properly) and HOW it wants to live (on the basis of what you value). As the leader of your body, you must experience and decide (brain) what the various elements of your body are to do. For example, some time ago, you decided that the members best utilized to help you ingest food are your hands and mouth. Of course, in early stages, you will stumble and fumble, figuring out what is best (e.g. In his toddler years, I watched my son employ his feet and ears for this task. He, too, learned that this would leave him hungry). But as your body grows, you get a better sense for the responsibilities and tasks best suited for the various parts of your body.
So it is with members of your team. They should be both culturally and technically competent, their performance evaluated on the basis of both WHAT they do (technical competence; job description-based) and HOW they get it done (cultural competence; values-based). These evaluations should happen more informally than formally, providing high-frequency, low duration touchpoints that help solidify the definition of good performance in their specific role in your organization. Framed differently, do not wait for annual performance reviews to tell people what they are doing right and/or wrong! These quick touchpoints help them darken the lines on the blueprint for success in their jobs. As the leader, it is your responsibility to help them define success and subsequently let them know how they are doing.
In short, leaders are responsible for the successful retention of their people. The first step in doing this will be defining success for your people and reminding them what it looks like.
If this task seems overwhelming to you, consider a time someone helped you define success for your role. WHAT did they say? HOW did they say it? Ultimately, WHY was it beneficial?