Sunday, January 1, 2012

Caring Beyond Nice

Caring isn't easy, and it isn't the same as being nice.  Howard Behar, It's Not About The Coffee

Which standards have staff agreed to?

Few things set household workers up for success better than caring about them. Being nice is a good start, but it's not enough. Caring is hard work, because it requires real action and follow-through to help others, not simply giving a smile and some well wishes.  Many tools are available to managers for demonstrating care with their staff, such as articulating and writing a clear team mission statement, understanding the employers' values, setting clear work expectations, and performing regular, honest evaluations. All are hard work, and all demonstrate a commitment to caring.

Unlike the needed autonomy required to reach household goals through a process of allowing healthy discretion, domestic staff citizens can attain success only if they know ~ before and during ~ what success actually is. Communicating with your staff about developing and meeting success - is management beyond nice.

Jack Welsh, well known as the CEO who steered General Electric into great success, conducts the very same process at home with his domestic staff of one housekeeper, providing her first with the information she needs up-front about expectations and then reviewing with her regularly if she's meeting them.  As with all effective management, not only are results examined, yet just as importantly, how the staff is meeting them - through behaviors:

"You simply cannot manage people to better performance if you do not give candid, consistent feedback through a system that is loaded with integrity... it should measure people on relevant , agreed-upon criteria that relate directly to an individual's performance. The criteria should be quantitative, based on how people deliver on certain goals, and qualitative, based on how they deliver on desired behaviors."  

Often dismissed as too formal in many households, a structured performance management system is anything but stodgy or impersonal, as it allows both working relationships and performance to flourish based on real, usable information, as opposed to gathering information through a more informal process of erratic feedback... or even resorting to relying upon workplace rumors and gossip, in hopes of understanding if they are meeting their employer's expectations.

Whether your staff is large or small, town or country, all workers possess an inherent desire to be cared about and to succeed, thus requiring access to information which both provides guidance for and evaluates success.

Management beyond nice is not easy work, yet with workplace performance management tools, real caring becomes possible.