Monday, July 2, 2012

Manager Mondays: Help Them Get An "A"

Welcome to Manager Mondays, a weekly feature about workforce communication.  This week we're talking about performance coaching that works.

The other day I was having a conversation with the head of talent management at a large organization.  She was telling me about their new suite of online business skills courses. She had high hopes that this new curriculum would help improve the effectiveness of their nationwide sales force.

"I have some top performers we want to retain and make even better," she told me, "and some under-performers who need to get better, or go away. In the middle, there are people who need various levels of tweaking.  I want to create a way for their managers to leverage online training to take everyone to the next level -- regardless of what their next level is."

I immediately thought of a particular book that I had at home.  "Have you ever read Helping People Win At Work?" I asked her. "It's all about doing just that -- and you don't even need to have online training.  It's based on a philosophy called Don't Mark My Paper, Help Me Get An A."  

After our conversation, I took the book down off my shelf and re-read it. It was even better than I remembered.  The authors, Ken Blanchard and Garry Ridge, present a great outline for coaching.  Their Situational Leadership II Model places every employee in one of four quadrants that defines his or her level of mastery.  Each level calls for a different coaching style.  Those styles are presented as part of a simple 4-stage continuum.  

If you find yourself needing to get better performance from people, you'll want to know about this book.  It will give you a wonderful toolkit of ideas that work, plus insight into what doesn't.  As in Ken Blanchard's other classic best-seller, The One Minute Manager, candid conversations are key to eliciting better performance...  but in Helping People Win At Work, you'll also find a clearly laid out alternative to annual performance reviews, plus tips on how to share your own leadership point of view, and why.

I hope my friend the talent manager finds this book, reads it, and applies it.  And if you are in a leadership position where you work, you should, too.  

I also recommend Ken Blanchard's website, which you can find by clicking here, for its many other idea-starters and organizational change resources.  

Are you helping your people to get an A? Or are you taking away their A game by being overly critical, untrustworthy, or discouraging?

Using the concepts in this book will help you transform your own leadership style and get better action from your troops.


  1. Hi Beth,

    I found your blog through a "recommendation" from a post that Bret Simmons had on his blog on "If you don't have something nice to say". My own comment on his post was just a few comments below yours :-)

    I think that the concept of "helping people get an A" as opposed to "marking their paper" is a pretty insightful one. I certainly try my best to "help" rather than critique, but if I am guilty of the latter then I should be more observant of myself to identify it.

    Thanks for the post and "Monday" insight!



  2. Welcome, Ronian! So glad you found thins blog and are finding it helpful. Yes, somehow it's much easier to be critical than constructive when we give feedback. We all have to monitor our messaging in that area. Watch for future posts that give more tips about helping workers get an A. Meanwhile, the Blanchard/Ridge book is a very worthwhile read. It's a performance improvement book about how to improve your own performance as a catalyst for your team's performance improvement! :)

  3. Thanks Beth! I've bookmarked your page on my blogroll so I'll be sure to check out more of your writing :-)

  4. That's great. Thanks for joining our new community of good communicators, Ronian. Feel free to comment whenever you want to contribute. Your perspective and insights are appreciated.