Managers mainly assign work based upon position requirements. In many cases this can be effective; however, performance can be elevated when managers attempt to tap into employee strengths and interests. Focusing on strengths can be powerful but it can prove disastrous if done in isolation without consideration of organizational goals. To prevent this from occurring, managers need to understand employee strengths and weaknesses and plan to leverage strengths and improve weaknesses. For example, if you expect an employee to complete tasks that are new to them, discuss the assignment with them to understand their capacity for doing the work to meet expectations. Once they accept the new assignment, check with them periodically to ensure steady progress of the work. Build in opportunities for formal learning as well as learning among employees.
Setting and Communicating Clear Expectations
Conversations about work assignments and performance can be uncomfortable for managers, especially new managers. Be clear on the expectations of your team from your supervisor and prepare to assign work after reviewing operations and employee performance history. Yes, work must continue while you get up to speed and learn about the team and the policies, processes and procedures. Once you understand operations and employee capacity and potential, determine to what extent responsibilities will change and create a plan for implementing any changes. Discuss your plans with your supervisor and make any recommended changes, then begin meeting with employees to discuss the upcoming changes. You may need to make a broad announcement to all of your direct reports and let them know that you will be meeting with them individually to discuss changes prior to bringing the group back together again to review the final changes.
Independent and Team-based Learning
Depending up work assignments, learning and developmental opportunities may be needed for both individuals and teams. Employees may be able to receive customized training in-house or you may need to bring in consultants to help achieve learning goals. A formal needs assessment will help identify the learning needed to support desired performance. A needs assessment with a proposed learning plan and budget should be prepared and discussed with your supervisor. You need to be able to clearly articulate the learning support needed for your team as well as understand the options for learning and how much it will cost.
- Set and communicate clear expectations to ensure employees can meet expectations.
- Provide employees with learning opportunities to support performance expectations.
- Within your first 30 days, review team and individual learning plans to ensure alignment with performance expectations.
- If a mentoring program does not exist, create a task force responsible for creating a mentoring program proposal for your unit.