The Most Expensive Mistake Leaders Can Make

This is a three-part series on the Most Expensive Mistakes Leaders Can Make

Part One

The evidence is clear –the impact of these review programs has been dismal. What’s more, many of these review processes have been found to actually hurt organizations rather than help. According to Gallup analytics, only 14% of employees strongly agree that the performance reviews they receive inspire them to improve.

For leaders, this is not merely a question about your front line — it’s about how you develop future managers and leaders.

Failing to develop leaders is the single most expensive mistake a leader can make.

With that in mind, Gallup took a comprehensive look at the current state of performance management — including interviews with top scientists, leaders, managers, meta-analyses involving hundreds of studies, and using its own database of more than 60 million employees.

Gallup’s research suggests this: Today’s top talent does not want a boss, they want a coach. “Performance management” must be transformed into “performance development” — an approach that focuses on growing leaders, not just keeping employees accountable.

All other conversations — about new scoring methods or digital tools — should be grounded in this new developmental, future-oriented mindset.

Gallup analytics suggest that leaders who want to develop their managers into successful leaders must focus on three things:

  • establish expectations
  • continually coach
  • create accountability

1. Establish expectations: According to Gallup analytics, only 50% of employees clearly know what is expected of them at work. And only 41% strongly agree that their official job description aligns well with the work they do.

Even more troubling, a mere 26% of employees strongly agree that their manager is good at helping them set work priorities.

To be effective, managers need to become very skilled in setting expectations that are clear, collaborative and aligned.

That means managers need to be involved, themselves, and involve their employees in the process of setting expectations.

The worst thing you can have is an employee or manager who tells you, “Yes,” but does not believe the goal can be achieved. When employees believe a goal is unreachable, they tune out. At their best, goals are challenging but attainable.

During a review, leaders and managers should share the top priorities they would like employees to accomplish. They should also allow employees to share their own objectives — what they will accomplish, when it will be done, and how success will be measured.

According to Gallup analytics, only 30% of employees strongly agree that their boss involves them in setting their goals at work. Those who do strongly agree are 3.6 times more likely to be engaged.

This point cannot be overstated: When your managers and employees are included in setting their goals, they are more likely to be engaged, more likely to believe their goals are fair, and more motivated to achieve those goals.

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