Category Archives: Recognition

Performance Management: Beginning the Discussion

How many of us have heard…or uttered … these phrases in our professional lives?

“I haven’t had a performance review with my boss since I got here.”

“She couldn’t really tell me why I got the performance rating.”

“It’s not fair.  I know I did better than he says I did.”

“He said, I should ‘be happy’”

Are these the comments that stellar organizations and relations are built upon?  I think not.  If this is, or has been, a part of your journey, how can we as leaders make change?  Some believe that change can only occur from the top of an organization.  There is a grass roots component that I believe can enhance your work place and potentially have an impact on the larger organization.  It begins with first level leaders understanding key themes about managing employee performance to better the organization.  I have always thought of these as the key components of understanding outstanding employee performance management:

1.  WHY

2.  WHO

3.  WHAT

4.  HOW

5.  WHEN

Let’s address each of these in successive posts, starting with WHY.


1.  Critical to Business Success.  Employees must have expectations for performance excellence tied to goals.  Without employee performance expectations aligned with company vision and mission, employees and leaders struggle with focus.  When employee expectations are aligned and met, it is a simple progression that leads to enhanced engagement.

2.  Improves Colleague Engagement.  Simply doing without understanding why limits employee engagement.  Imagine the motivation when an employee actually gets it.  Think of how that employee feels about him/herself and the work required on a project, when they are clear on the importance of how their role relates to the end product.

3.  Drives Individual Employee Development.  As the leader assigns goals and/or objectives, it can be done with an eye toward stretching the ability of the employee.  In so doing, a business-complementary stretch objective is introduced; the employee senses trust on the part of the leader and can more easily align with growth/development opportunities.  Success for both parties is derived from employee growth and business success. Of course, employee accountability for performance is an important part of development and growth.

4.  Enhances Rewards and Recognition Program.  With a clear, established performance program, employees understand what is happening to them.  Comments like those that opened this blog can be reduced and eliminated.

We may even get solid suggestions and recommendations from our employees concerning rewards and recognition.  Talk about engagement!

5.  Incentivizes Employees.  Now we have employees who understand and participate in the organization’s rewards and recognition program. They are bought-in to their individual development objectives. They are engaged because there is clarity and understanding about what they are doing and why.  Because they see the alignment with overall business vision and goals, these employees are now leaning forward, looking for additional opportunities.

Once we have clarity about WHY performance management is valuable, we need to next look at WHO is involved in our performance management process. That is the topic for our next blog.

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This article was written by Gary Steele, Vice President with Learning Dynamics. Visit his personal profile page to learn more about Gary’s career and expertise.

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Learning Dynamics offers several customizable leadership development programs including Coaching for Results. Contact us today to learn how we can help your organization develop your supervisors and managers into leaders.

Don’t Wait to Give This

Black Friday is just behind us, and Cyber Monday is off to a record-breaking pace as everyone searches for holiday gifts at the lowest possible price. Then we will wrap them up and give them to our family, friends, customers, and coworkers over the coming weeks. It’s a fun time of year, for sure.

Our employees are deserving of something, too. We aren’t talking about a box of chocolate or a gift card, but recognition. In nearly every survey and study of the workplace, employees say they wish for more recognition. Giving it, and meaning it, can make the difference between a healthy, vibrant team and a place of drudgery and high turnover.

Here are some of the keys to offering recognition:

Be Timely. The best time to give recognition is when it is earned. Don’t wait. As a leader who is working to generate energy and build a high performance team, you should take a moment to offer recognition while the positive behavior you have seen is still fresh and memorable. If you wait a day or a week, your recognition will be less powerful. The right words at the right time have impact.

Be Specific. They don’t give out the Oscars to actors, directors and the rest without mentioning the film that is being honored. That would be ridiculous. When offering recognition, mention something specific about the performance. “I really appreciate the dedication you showed by staying late to work on that customer issue.”

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For more on building high performance teams, see Hire It & Inspire It.

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Link It. Take your recognition to the next level by linking the positive behavior to some immediate or future benefit. Make the connection for your employee so she will understand not just the fact that you appreciate some specific behavior, but how it will affect the company and its customers in the future. To add on to the statement above, “I’m sure your work will improve our relationship with the customer and lead to future sales.”

Be Personal. When offering recognition, make it clear that you, as the employee’s supervisor, personally appreciate the effort made. This one-to-one relationship building will prove valuable over time, especially when you have to ask for some extra effort in the future. Your team members are more likely to perform in a pinch if you have this leadership equity with them.

Be Public. Leverage is the idea here. Public recognition makes the experience that much better for the person receiving it, and it helps others. They can learn what’s important in your firm and how to earn praise themselves. They might even be inspired to perform better. Your public recognition can be delivered in person – maybe a brief department meeting or a stand-up huddle – or any other way that works for you. If you have a multi-shift operation, written recognition on a bulletin board or electronic resource (e.g., email, intranet page) could be appropriate.

Recognition is powerful. It’s free, it’s meaningful, and it works. Give that gift of recognition right now. Make regular, consistent recognition part of your routine to build your high performance team.

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Learning Dynamics helps leaders at every level learn to be better leaders. Bringing Out the Best in Others teaches participants leadership skills to enhance teamwork, morale, and organizational performance. Ask for more information today.

Hire It and Inspire It

Motivation is a topic that is included in several of our most popular Learning Dynamics training programs, and it is always a conversation starter in our classes. The question is this: Can you motivate others?

Class participants think long and hard about this before answering, and most groups are split with their answers. Some say, “Yes, of course.” Then they attempt to explain their reasons.

The other side, of course, says, “No way!”

Whatever your opinion, consider the idea that leaders – managers, supervisors, peers, even people below you in the organizational hierarchy – do not actually create motivation within their followers. Instead, they create the environment in which others can be motivated to bring their best and perform at high levels.

This is the big idea behind employee engagement. How do you get people to do their best, especially when there are so many companies filled with good, smart people who never rise to excellence?

First, think about going to the very beginning of the process. Whether you have a super star or a stunning dud on your team, someone hired that person. What went into the decision making process? Many organizations are placing greater emphasis on personality testing and cultural fit. And it’s for good reason.

Employees will excel where they are given the opportunity to do their best work in environments in which they can thrive. Find the people who will work in your organization as it is, not as you wish it was. And stop trying to pound the square-peg candidate into the square-hole job. If you aren’t sure about fit, get others involved in the selection process. Peer-level interviews can uncover all kinds of things that might not otherwise be discovered.

Once you have the right people, give them the tools, resources, training and empowerment to do the job for which they were hired. These inputs, combined with a strong, recognition-based culture will do wonders for most employees.

In the end, we all want to be included on a team that is aligned with our heads and hearts. Find those people, inspire excellence with leadership support and coaching, and motivation will multiply. Leaders, you cannot motivate others, but you can lead in way so others can find their own motivation.

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Bringing out the Best in Others is one Learning Dynamics training program that teaches leadership skills to create a motivating workplace. Contact us today for more information.

Thanks for Moving us Forward!

Thanks!This week is the time for taking stock of our lives and being thankful. For all, this thought rightly includes our personal lives: family, friends, health and everything else. For leaders, it could and should include some reflection on the contributions that followers – individual contributors and junior leaders – make to create organizational success.

As our consultants facilitate training programs with leading companies, we are always impressed and inspired by the energy that people put into their work. The conversations and insights generated by our classes make it very clear to us that many people, especially those selected for participation in professional development initiatives, put everything they have into driving their organizations forward. They really do care and want to do well. They give a lot of themselves every day.

Another valuable observation that we make is that these people, many leaders in their own right, value the power of a thank you. Simple, free, specific recognition – a note, an email, a phone call, a literal pat on the back – gives these motivated team members the fuel they need to keep contributing at the highest levels.

It is a simple idea, but one worth remembering during Thanksgiving week. As a leader in your organization, don’t just be thankful for what you have. Be thankful for all that everyone does to help you and your company grow and thrive. And be sure to share your thankfulness with those who deserve it.

We at Learning Dynamics are thankful for the opportunity to help our clients build better and stronger organizations by Investing in PeopleTM. Happy Thanksgiving to all!


Learning Dynamics offers customizable learning and development programs to help your organization grow and succeed. Bringing out the Best in Others is a powerful training session that will help your supervisors and managers learn to recognize and reinforce the behaviors your company needs to succeed.