This is the question I asked my mentee. What does your ideal performer look like?
Throughout 2020, as COVID impacted all of us, my live workshops were all cancelled. I consciously decided not to take them online and zoom everyone out even more than COVID was already doing. Instead I accelerated my mentoring and coaching online. I am now going to prioritise mentoring and coaching in my professional development work with leaders and managers. I am going to regularly address some of the issues that come up in that coaching and mentoring.
What is going on when someone is not performing well?
It can be an attitude, personality or mindset issue with the employee. It can be something that is happening in their personal life. It may be poor morale in the organisation, a culture and leadership issue. It may be a breakdown between the employee and his/her manager. And many more other reasons. It is usually never simple and straightforward.
The leader who comes to me for mentoring/coaching can often talk clearly about what is NOT happening, but then find it difficult to be clear about what they actually want from their employee, apart from being more easy to get on with. The question I ask them is:
What does your ideal performer look like?
When people are hired they are given a letter of engagement with certain expectations in it. They are also given KPIs they are expected to meet in the role for which they are employed. But the performance concerns that leaders bring to me in mentoring/coaching do not generally relate to those specific issues which are more easy to manage. They relate to behaviours that are much more intangible and more difficult to define. They are also the behaviours that employees don’t know are expectations because their leader/manager has not articulated them as expectations.
That’s why the mentoring/coaching approach is so very helpful here. We engage in reflection, critical thinking and problem solving, exploration and discovery of those intangible behaviours. At the same time developing and enhancing the self-awareness of the leader.
So what are those intangible KPIs that you want your employee to meet?
These will be different for every organisation, industry or professional sector or individual roles, but here are some thoughts to start your reflective process that I worked through with one of my mentees recently.
What Does Your Ideal Performer Look Like – the question I asked my mentee recently? Here are some ideas we brainstormed that will get your reflection started.
Displays a team spirit
Puts in discretionary effort
Is highly engaged
Has high emotional intelligence
Embraces, even leads, change
Has a growth mindset, rather than one that is fixed
Is committed to self-leadership and self-management, e.g., emotions, work/life balance, stress, conflict, etc.
Is willing to support and collaborate with others
Is solution focused
Pays attention to detail
Works on becoming increasingly self-aware and aware also of how they are coming across to others
Responds constructively to feed-back and commits to improvement
Volunteers willingly for work/tasks outside their designated role
Seeks stretch assignments as a way to improve and develop
This usually takes at least one session of mentoring and coaching. In the following sessions we explore what the leader needs to do to ensure that the employee understands, and is able to meet, these expectations. More importantly there are many following sessions of mentoring/coaching where the conversation focuses of what kind of leader he/she needs to BE so that an employee can meet those expectations.