Monthly Archives: April 2013

Lead with Behavior

Lead with Behavior

What happens when you try to change an employee’s attitude?

Often, the attitude just gets bigger. In the process, the employee is left feeling smaller and their behavior doesn’t change. Before you begin your next performance-related conversation, consider this critical mind-set: Lead with Behavior.

Describing the employee’s attitude won’t help him or her understand what they are expected to do differently. For example, if you say, “John, you need to focus more so you can improve your performance,” John will likely say that he is focused. At that point the conflict is about whether or not he is focused, which is really not the issue. Instead, if you describe the behavior, such as, “John, I’ve noticed that your tracking forms were not completed for our last three one-on-one meetings,” he is more likely to engage in the conversation.

Leading a conversation with a description of the employee’s attitude does not leave room for a productive change. If you say the employee is lazy, rude, distracted, or slow, the dialogue is more general in nature, and he or she won’t really know what to do differently. When you give a specific example about what he/she did or didn’t do that had an impact on the job, there is room in the conversation to explore options. This might sound like, “John, during our last three meetings when you did not bring your completed tracking forms, we were unable to review the progress you’ve made.”

When the conversation focuses on the employee’s attitude, you will most likely get a defensive reaction. If the employee feels attacked, whether emotionally or personally, the reaction will be to withdraw or fight back. In turn, the employee will stop listening and become more concerned about his or her next response rather than a solution.
In your next performance conversation, define the behaviors you would like the employee to change and lead with those. It will take the pain out of the conversation for you and for the employee.

Marnie Green Discusses the Launch of Painless Performance Conversations

Author Marnie Green Discusses the Launch of Painless Performance Conversations

As the second in a series of interviews with Mix clients, I spoke with management education consultant Marnie Green. Marnie has recently published her second book, and we’ve been working with her team to promote it. I asked Marnie some questions about her experience:

Q. Why did you select to write and publish Painless Performance Conversations?

A. After publishing my first book, Painless Performance Evaluations, it didn’t take me long to learn that what was really painful for leaders were the day-to-day workplace conversations with employees, not just evaluations. So first and foremost, the book was driven by a need I saw from my clients. But also, the book is a tool to leverage my consulting services. It establishes credibility and market presence for myself and my company.

Q. What steps did you take in marketing your book to present a brand that’s consistent with your company, Management Education Group?

A. It started with the content itself: everything in the book supports the principles I teach in my workshop, so the book links back to my business. As far as design, I provided the publisher with my brand’s fonts, colors and other design elements to consider when designing the cover of the book, so it felt consistent with my company’s branding.

Q. How is marketing this book different from the last you published in 2006?

A. I put a lot more into the marketing of this book than the last one, partly because the publishing world has changed and now there’s an expectation that the author will sell the book. Part of it is what’s available now, too. We’re marketing this book in social media, it has its own web page, there’s a video trailer on our site and on YouTube and we published it both in paperback and as an e-book.

Q. How is book marketing different from marketing your business?

A. The difference is that this is a tangible product, so I have to think about price and partnerships with others to provide incentives. I’ve never had to do that with my business, which is service-focused. Yet, both rely on websites, e-newsletters and social media strategy to add value and create a following.

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Marnie E. Green, IPMA-CP, is principal consultant of Management Education Group, Inc. and the go-to expert on development of public sector leaders. 

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Creative Mix  – Mixer interview

Q&A with Marnie Green, author of Painless Performance Conversations

I’m excited to share this interview discussing my new book, Painless Performance Conversations, published by Wiley in a recent press release!

1. Why did you decide to write a book about workplace discussions?

After the release of my first book, Painless Performance Evaluations: A Practical Approach to Managing Day-to-Day Employee Performance, I received feedback from the managers and supervisors who attended my training sessions. They told me that while they dreaded the annual performance evaluation, the real pain was in the day-to-day conversations with employees, especially when the employee’s performance was not up to par.

I began to chronicle the conversations they indicated were the most painful and developed tools and approaches to boost their confidence in tackling the toughest discussions. After testing these ideas and approaches in workshops with managers, I learned that the concepts were sound and applicable in any work environment.  Writing them down and illustrating them in Painless Performance Conversations was a way to honor the hard work these managers do every day. Leading a staff is not easy and managers deserve simple, practical tools that will make their lives easier, while boosting the performance of employees.

2. Who is the target audience Painless Performance Conversations is written for?

Painless Performance Conversations will speak to anyone who provides feedback to others.  Leaders wishing to create a culture of accountability, in private sector organizations, as well as in public agencies and non-profit organizations, will find value in these concepts.

3. What is a painless performance conversation?

A Painless Performance Conversation is with a person you care about concerning an issue you are concerned with where the outcome is uncertain and the situation requires your influence. In essence, painless performance conversations are the discussions that managers use to help employees make a shift in their performance.

4. Chapter 2 is titled, “Have the Guts” – why are managers often reluctant to have the hard conversations with their employees?

Over the years I’ve captured dozens of reasons why managers put off critical performance discussions. Many of these reasons are listed in the book.  A few of the most common reasons include concern for how the employee will react, a fear of the unknown, and a lack of confidence that they can manage the conversation productively.

5. What do you hope readers take away after reading this book?

My hope is that readers will find practical tools and approaches to use in their most uncomfortable workplace discussions.  From setting expectations to using questions that engage employees in problem solving, the book is filled with dialogue, phrases, and sample conversations that will help managers better approach their next performance-related conversation. Using these ideas will help managers create a culture of ownership that allows employees to perform at the highest levels.


Wiley Press Release for Painless Performance Conversations



Leveraging the One-on-One to Boost Performance

How often do you meet one-on-one with your employees? To make the most of what has been called the most powerful management tool in the world, a one-on-one meeting should be regularly scheduled (every other Tuesday at 9AM or every Monday at 4PM or whatever works). It should be rarely missed and its primary focus must be on the employee and their performance. Notes should be taken by both the employee and the manager. The meeting will likely last no more than 30 minutes with 10 minutes for the employee to provide an update on their progress, 10 minutes for you to share your perspectives, and 10 minutes to focus on the employee’s development.

Some managers use a standardized form to track the outcomes of each one-on-one. The format might include notes you take from the employee’s update, notes you prepare for your update to the employee, and a list of agreements or follow-up items. The fundamental goal of the conversation is to maintain an ongoing dialogue with each employee about:

performance expectations
resources the employee needs to meet the performance expectations
feedback on the employee’s progress
development opportunities the employee is pursuing

If a regularly scheduled one-on-one conversation with your employees is one of the most powerful tools you can use to boost performance, why not give it a try?

Performance Conversations: A Key Piece to the Cycle

The performance management cycle is the ongoing process of setting clear expectations, providing ongoing feedback, documenting performance, and summarizing all of it in a regular performance evaluation document.

Color PMC - Cropped

While clear expectations, documentation, and the evaluation are all critical parts of the process, performance conversations will have the greatest impact on the employee’s performance. Frequent conversations about performance accomplish the following:

• Clarify the organization’s mission and vision
• Reinforce performance that is on target
• Redirect performance that is off the mark
• Bolster the employee’s confidence
• Boost morale
• Create a sense of connection for the employee
• Enhance levels of engagement

The performance management cycle will vary from organization to organization. Your Human Resources department is the best source to help you understand your organization’s expectations and processes. Regardless of the system used by your organization, performance conversations will be the tool you most rely upon to influence, guide, and support your employees on a day-to-day basis. Get good at the conversations and the rest of the cycle is easy to master.


Painless Performance Conversations Reminder Cards!

Participants attending a Painless Performance Conversations workshop will walk away with one of these reminder cards as a tool to use back on the job.

PPC Reminder Cards

Thank You!

Painless Performance Conversations has been six years in the making. Shortly after my first book, Painless Performance Evaluations was released I realized that while evaluations are painful for managers, the real pain is in the conversation. Managers need support in leading meaningful performance conversations that they would prefer to avoid.

Thank you to the many colleagues and clients who have contributed to the development of Painless Performance Conversations, which is officially released in three days.

Tracy Bannon
Tamara Becker
Jay Castellano
Cheryl Cepelak
Stephen Cleveland
Dr. Richard Deems
Marla DeSoto
Kendra Eberhart
Betsy Fretwell
Neil Giuliano
Vicki Grove
Katrina Hase
Rick Hunt
Jolaine Jackson
Debbie Kent
Kevin Klimas
Michelle May, M.D.
Mark Olson
Neil Reichenberg
Ann Roseberry
Edward Scannell
Mike Sung
Karen Thoreson
Natalie Trudel
Nancy Van Pelt
Christine Wilkinson
Kay Wilkinson

Remember, you can still pre-order your copy of Painless Performance Conversations at any of these booksellers:Amazon Button 800 CEO Read button Barnes And Noble Books A Million