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Performance Management Starts With Looking In The Mirror

by David Brock on February 1st, 2011

Performance management is a hot issue.  Sales leaders and business managers constantly strive to get the highest levels of performance from their people and teams.  We coach, provide tools and systems, create processes, measure and reward.  All of these are important, but I think we tend to overlook another important factor—our own performance.  To maximize performance in the organization we have to first look at ourselves and how we perform.

The personal example each of us sets as a leader is a starting point.  It we expect our people to use the CRM system or our sales process, yet we don’t use it ourselves, why should our sales people use them?  If we expect our sales people to plan and prepare for sales calls, yet we go along and shoot from the lip, what behaviors would we expect?  If we ask our people for reports (say call reports), yet we never read them, what kind of message do we send to our people.

But it doesn’ stop with the personal example we set.  It goes much deeper.  It goes to accountability.  We hold our people accountable for producing results.  Yes, it all rolls up to us, so in some ways we share accountability.  But as managers we are accountable for our people’s success.  What are we doing to help our people be successful?  Are we coaching them, developing them as we should, are we addressing performance issues?  Are we fighting for them–getting the resources they need, promoting them within the organization, protecting them from the organization.

Do we trust them?  What do we do, every day, to earn their trust. 

Do we talk about “them” when they don’t meet the goals, then claiming their success for ourselves.  Do we constantly recognize them and are we proud of their success, publicizing it to the organization.  When there is a failure to we share the responsibility or start playing the blame game.

Our our behaviors and values aligned with the expectations that we have about our people and performance?  If we expect teamwork, are we team players–not just with our people, but with others in the organization?  If we expect integrity, do we meet our commitments, is our own behavior above reproach?

Performance management is not about getting “them” to perform at the highest levels.  It starts with examining ourselves, making sure that we are performing at the highest possible level.  That everything we expect is aligned with our own personal behaviors and performance.

Outstanding sales leaders have very high expectations of their teams and organizations.  They have even higher expectations of themselves!

Have you looked in the mirror recently?

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  1. David, very nice expresion of a challenging topic. Looking in the mirror is never easy and often painful, but that is what great leaders and successful people do. When we believe we’re as good as we are going to get, we not only stop growing and improving, but we actually regress.

    Major league ballplayers have batting, hitting, and throwing coaches. They scrutinize every detail of their mechanics, constantly honing their skills.

    How we share in the wins and losses of our team may have more impact than anything else we do. When my son was named captain of his high school baseball team, I gave him one piece of advice, “When the team wins, they get the credit, and when they lose, you take the blame.”

    I didn’t blame myself for the losses. It’s just my nature to question where I let my team down. What could I gave done differently to get us across the finish line in front, where did I go wrong, and what can I change so this outcome is never repeated.

    I’m not the one in the trenches getting banged around so when the team executes, they deserve the credit.

  2. David,

    Excellent approach to look at the self performance evaluation issue. The questions you have raised by linking with subordinates are outstanding.

    This is the biggest issue in every organization around the globe. I believe there is not a single company out there having strong self evaluation controls. Looking at the mirror is before evaluating your sub-ordinates seems to be something which is not for the managers etc.

    In my opinion, there must be such controls that every person, not matter hat position he/she holds, should be fully evaluated before the sub-ordinates. I know most of the companies have such arrangements, but there controls are weak therefor high level management easily takes advantage of it.

    But, very good article. Have you also written any article about how to involve senior management in the evaluation system?

    • Cameron, thanks for the comment. I tend to agree that too many organizations have weak performance management systems at all levels. I’ve written a lot about management, just search on it here. Also, we will be providing much more about performance management and the roles of managers at Future Selling Institute, You might want to start looking at the materials there and subscribe.

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