Tag Archives: communication

Communication - Performance Management

When Performance Suffers, Are You Actually Stealing?

Back in the 1950s, stealing in the workplace was pretty black and white. If your workplace was a production line creating widgets and you took a widget home, you knew very well that you had stolen this physical property. Nowadays however, not everything falls neatly into the category of a product or a service.

Now performance for many is processing information. Workplaces cannot simply put up a metal detector to see if information is leaving in someone’s pocket. Information resides in our minds – invisible to others and not very useful to the organization unless we communicate effectively. 

You probably didn’t mean to steal the information. In fact, you probably never even thought about it this way. But as technology changes, so do our workplaces. Once we understand the true nature of the materials that our jobs involve – be it physical materials, or in many cases information – we can then understand our responsibility to help move ALL those materials along.

Today’s workplace requires effective communication. We must be able to synthesize a tremendous amount of data and then provide it in the right format, at the right time. Sometimes that format is for a meeting with our boss, a report, a presentation, a meeting with a client, or marketing material.

Think about it this way. When you are paid to gather, assimilate, and pass along data, it is the same as if you were paid to gather materials, create a widget, and pass that widget to the next person. In an information age, information and data are now the property that companies are processing and profiting from.

So with new types of work, there also needs to be new boundaries to define an employee’s responsibility. Your performance may be based on your ability to gather data, to give an opinion, to help translate the information so it will be valuable to your colleagues and clients. If you don’t help this data or information progress down the line – the data in your head is not valuable to the organization. It’s as if you took a widget home in your pocket.  

To improve your workplace culture, leading to increased productivity and better employee performance, remind employees that sharing information is the new widget.

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Conflict Resolution - Performance Management

Performance Management: Is Your Workplace in a Pickle?

Like over 30 million other Americans, I have been playing pickleball. I am bad. I don’t say that to be coy, modest, or kind, I am truly not a very good player. What I love about both my husband and the group I play with is they are very, very encouraging. I hear on the pickleball court in the evenings what I hear in organizations during the day, both the good and the bad.

For the most part I hear encouragement like “Good idea!” which is a lovely way to say, “You missed it, but you at least know where to stand.” Or “Good try!” Or “Now you’ve got it.” I am both amazed and impressed by the different ways this supportive group encourages.

One night I had a new partner. She was so kind and supportive of me, but when she herself missed the ball, she called herself an idiot, stupid, or a loser. Another player suggested, “If you start encouraging yourself the way you encourage Karen, your game will improve.” She heard the feedback and I can only imagine that her play has improved as well.

Sadly, not everyone in our group is so supportive. One member said to me “You have absolutely no hand eye coordination. You should hit against a board about 200 times a day, every day for about 3 months and then come back. My spouse did this and it helped.” My takeaway from that interaction was, “You need to learn about Carol Dweck and the growth mindset.”

Carol Dweck wrote a Mindset: A New Psychology of Success. In the book, Dweck says that those who see learning as an ever-evolving and fun process have greater life and career satisfaction. They aren’t expecting life to be easy so they aren’t easily frustrated when life becomes challenging. I discuss Dr. Dweck’s research in my programs and I use it in my life. I notice during performance discussions that those who are expecting work to be challenging are more open to feedback.

Now on the court I say to myself, “I don’t serve consistently, YET.” It’s helped my game. What growth mindset phrases have helped you in your work and life?

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Employee Engagement - Performance Management

Proximity Bias and Neighbors

Twenty-five years ago, my husband and I moved into a newly-built house in a brand new neighborhood. There were just a few other residents at the time and there was a ton of construction. For the first three years, our streets were filled with dirt, noise, and construction workers. As each house was completed, we were excited to meet our neighbors.

We soon discovered that many of our neighbors had children the same ages as ours and that we also shared similar interests. We kept seeing these same neighbors while waiting at the bus stop with our children, while volunteering in the schools, while working out at the gym, and while shopping for groceries. They seemed to be everywhere! If we hadn’t liked them, it would have been a problem, but we not only liked them, we loved and cherished our newly-formed relationships.

As humans, we have a fundamental desire to connect with others. Informal relationships, where people in close proximity engage in frequent interactions and bond with one another, happen at work as well. This phenomenon has been studied and can actually lead to what is called proximity bias. Proximity bias is when those who are physically closer to company leaders enjoy greater influence and advancement opportunities. Unfortunately proximity bias can create a less equitable work environment since remote employees can feel like their career trajectory lags behind their in-office peers, simply because they are less visible.

So, how can organizations encourage a thriving in-person office community while at the same time offering an inclusive environment for remote workers?  

As with many challenges, the first step is to begin talking about the issue. Through open and honest communication, obstacles can be identified and solutions proposed.  

It’s very helpful for meetings to include a virtual option, and information sharing should be done both in writing, and when possible, in person. Written documentation of all communication should be shared through a central digital platform. 

In order to ensure that promotion decisions and bonus opportunities are fair, it is critical that performance appraisals measure and analyze an employee’s full impact.

Concordia Consulting can help your organization with the new challenges of a post-pandemic workplace. And, if your business is successfully navigating the demands of in-person, hybrid, and remote work, please share your achievements with us!

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