This month we’re going to start a series covering what we call No Surprise Management. No Surprise Management is the management approach that we teach as part of the PSE Method. It centers on the concept that no employee should ever be surprised by a conversation that they have with you. You should be communicating clearly and consistently so that every employee knows exactly what you expect from them. And they know exactly how they are performing against those standards.
Over the next several months we’ll cover each of the different aspects of No Surprise Management, but for now, I’ll give you a quick intro to each of them.
No Surprise Managers hire slow and fire fast. They know that getting the Right People into the Right Seats is one of their most important responsibilities. They take the time to understand what each role needs for success and then they match candidates to those roles. Great managers take the time to ensure that the people they are hiring will not only be great additions to the team’s performance, but also great additions to the culture of the company.
An important step in getting the Right People in the Right Seats is to define what those seats are. Everyone needs to know exactly what is expected from each role, especially the employee that is being asked to do it. There can be no accountability if there are not clearly defined expectations for performance.
No Surprise Managers know how to ask the right questions in interviews to help them determine whether candidates are really the right fit for the open position. They spend their time in interviews wisely and ensure that they get all of their questions answered. They are able to check their biases at the door to ensure they are hiring the right person, not just someone they like or someone they have something in common with.
Great managers create a seamless onboarding program that helps employees feel valued from day one. They put thought as well as time and energy into helping plan an employee’s first weeks and months on the job. They pay attention to more than just the practical training needs of the role, but also the more cultural aspects of the company. Helping the employee adjust to life in their new company more readily. Because they know that a great onboarding experience can make all the difference in terms of tenure.
Team Meetings and One-on-Ones
No Surprise Managers hold effective meetings. Both full team meetings and individual one-on-one meetings with their direct reports. They use their team meetings to make sure that everyone is on the same page about what the priorities are. And what each team member must do to help reach those goals. They use their one-on-ones to give effective feedback that serves to help their employees grow and develop.
When working with new managers, we often encounter a hesitation to delegate. Whether it comes from a timing or a control standpoint, it is detrimental. A major component of helping employees to grow and develop is delegation. No Surprise Managers know how to effectively delegate tasks to their team members. They know who to delegate what to and they spend the time necessary coaching those individuals to ensure they can continue to perform the tasks on their own.
Another component of helping employees grow and develop is showing them how they can grow in their careers. Sometimes that is with your company, through clearly laid out paths for each role to follow. Sometimes that is with another company, by helping employees determine that their next best opportunity is elsewhere. Either way, No Surprise Managers spend time investing in the career growth of their employees. They know that no one is truly happy with stagnation. So they take a proactive approach in helping employees identify and achieve career goals.
An often overlooked skill of great managers is helping employees set clear goals for both their personal and professional lives. Goals help to give employees clear direction and purpose for their work and their life. Most people are not good at setting goals for their life which is why it is so important for managers to step in and help their employees create them. An important note here is that not every employee’s long term goals will line up with the company’s goals, and that’s okay. The goal is not to force employees to stay with your company forever, it is to help them become the person they want to be in life while they are working with you.
Once employees have defined their goals, it’s your job as a No Surprise Manager to help coach them to success. Just like a sports coach, that does not involve you doing their job for them. But rather helping them to understand how they can be more effective and how they can reach those goals sooner. Coaching is an invaluable tool to add to your management toolbox because it helps you magnify your impact by building up those around you.
In addition to coaching, another critical aspect of helping employees reach their goals is giving them effective feedback. As a manager, you should be having regular and ongoing conversations with your team to let them know exactly where they stand. You should be delivering consistent feedback, both positive and negative, to help them grow and improve. They shouldn’t have to wait a whole year to get feedback on their performance.
It’s really quite simple, everybody wants feedback – at work, in our relationships, in our individual pursuits. We want to be able to push ourselves. We’re constantly looking to better ourselves and grow. The only way we can do that is if we know how we are performing and what we might do to improve that performance.
In addition to the more frequent, less formal feedback discussions, you should also be documenting your feedback in a more formal process. At least once a year. The key is to find a consistent format that helps employees understand where they currently stand as well as how they can improve. These discussions should not only cover work performance but also cultural and core values fit. It is just as important that someone is a fit for the values and the culture of the company as it is that they can perform their role well. You cannot tolerate toxic employees as they will bring the rest of the company down with them.
As I mentioned earlier, we’ll cover each of these topics in more detail over the next several months, so make sure to check back in to learn more.