Loosening the knot

“Performance management is loosening the knot between shared intentions on both sides of the plate, for employees and employers,” began Kristen Cummings at a Managing for Peak Performance Seminar, early this week in Blackfoot. With a down to earth and relatable style Cummings shared ideas on how we can lead better or more simply how we can be better with others. Her philosophies were aimed at managers but truly they apply no matter what area of life you consider.

She began with some basic assumptions

  1. That every person would prefer to perform well and give generously of their gifts, ideas and talents.
  2. That every organization is interested in peak performance and full engagement of their staff.
  3. That the average manager is a working manager who may struggle to balance doing with managing and leading.

Cummings suggests that is preferable to be encouraging our people when things are going well and not only correcting when they are not. Peak performance = significance + resources + influence + accountability. “ A leader’s job is always revisiting significance for their team,” she says.

Yet, there will be times when the corrections need to happen.  Don’t avoid these conversations. In just about all cases, everyone else also knows that a line was crossed and is waiting for the manager to do something about it.  Don’t make a broad policy change to deal with one individual. Again, everyone else knows who it is directed at.  Don’t get caught in analysis paralysis of the situation. Don’t judge. Don’t say too much and listen.  Don’t use extreme language. Stay neutral and do the correction when you are calm. Do not own the problem. Ask open ended questions and allow the individual to come up with their own plan for change. Allow for lots of time.

“It is really about connecting people with their purpose,” Cummings emphasizes. “And getting the team back to a standard of excellence.”  Cummings used many analogies and humor to help participants gain insight to  making some of these conversations easier.

– Kelly

“While no single conversation is guaranteed to change the trajectory of a career, a company, a relationship, any single conversation can.” Susan Scott

“Not all transformation is pleasant.” Susan Scott

“No matter how far you are down the wrong road, turn back.” Turkish proverb.


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