Performance Management with Lucus Lyons
This is kind of a question that we've been dancing around now, for a few sessions, how do you ensure that your new hire is a great team member? You're gonna write a phenomenal job description, first and foremost, you're gonna go through a rigorous interview process, but even with all of that, there are times when corrections need to be made. And any new hire is an opportunity to develop performance, right? To develop the perfect employee. You never hire the perfect employee, you develop the perfect employee, right? And so, if you wanna have great team members, you have to invest in the process of their performance development, you have to invest in course correcting them when necessary. So, really, the only way to ensure that your new hire is a great new team member, and is really contributing value, is by opening up an ongoing discussion about their performance and about how they fit in. And there is no one I know who does this better, than Lucus Lyons. He's the Long Distance Manager,...
but before that, he was a district manager, I think, he can correct us then, but a district manager for Chase Bank right here in the San Francisco area, managed a bunch of branches and the people in them, and got incredibly high marks for employee satisfaction and from meeting really important business metrics, as well. And performance management, you know how I get enthusiastic about all the other stuff I was getting enthusiastic about earlier? Like hanging out on the internet? Lucus gets really enthusiastic about performance management. You know, not everyone can have cool hobbies like me. (laughing) So let's go ahead and bring Lucus up. And I'm gonna attempt to bring the questions up for Lucus, there we go, hey Lucus! Hey Tara, how are ya? Thank you so much for joining us today Lucus. Yeah, thank you for having me. Absolutely, alright, so, I've got some questions for you and then I'm hoping these guys have got some questions for you, too. So, guys, be thinking about your questions, okay? So, first and foremost, Mr. Lucus Lyons, what can we do to make sure our expectations for a team member are clear? Because I think that, well, I'll just speak from personal experience, I can think something is super clear and as Shannon will attest to, it is not. (audience laughing) So, what are your best practices for just making sure that we're actually communicating with people what we actually need from them? Yeah, stating clear expectations is so important. It's pretty easy, but it's not done very well. Gallop is a research and polling firm, and they found 50% of employees, don't know what's expected of them everyday.
Wow. Wow, yeah. So... It's clearly, it's a problem. So, let's talk about what I would recommend to set those expectations. You've just hired a new employee, time to sit down one-on-one, and have a conversation with their job description about what they're supposed to do, how they're supposed to do these things that they're supposed to do. Say you hire someone who's gonna be talking to the clients, let's talk about what that client work looks like, talking to them looks like, and how they would end up doing that. The next thing you wanna do is assign priorities to these descriptions of these things that they're gonna have to do, cause they need to know what's most important, what they should focus on first, second, third, and fourth. And then when you have to reorder, or something happens in between where they need to, say, change or make a shift, they should understand how to reprioritize that as well. But it helps to know what are your top two most important things. And then when they come to you with questions about this type of stuff, like, hey, I'm not sure what to do, you can talk to them through an example. So, example of that is, my wife runs a PR agency. Number one priority there is to get a client in the media. So, when we hire someone who's pitching and doing this work, we make abundantly clear to them that responding to media inquiries is the number one priority. So, there's a lot of other things that are involved in pitching media. But when the media responds to us and says, hey, we'd like to talk to you, you drop everything for that. And when you walk your employees through these examples and show them and go, hey, this is the primary thing that you should do, they know what to do without coming to you. If they don't have to come to you, then you can't possibly micromanage them. You're teaching them, here's what you do, here's how I think about what's most important, and allows you to do your work, without having to come to me and like, what's next? What's next? They know, they can adjust on the fly, they can work hard all day, and not be waiting to bug you with, you know, go through slack or whichever. They can just keep in their groove and keep moving and keep working. It's as simple as that. Awesome, and there was some mm's in the audience here, I don't know if you heard that. But there was definitely some resonance there. And I think the other point that you make here about thinking through like, what are the top priorities? When do I switch jobs? When do I drop everything? What we've been talking about through this whole class is how getting ready to hire, actually makes you a better employee of your company, as well. And I think there's probably some room here for all of us to readjust and remind ourselves what the top priorities are and things like that. So, that's super helpful. Yeah, absolutely. Awesome, so, I've been prepping them, kind of, throughout these lessons that yes, we are gonna talk about performance management, yes, we're gonna talk about offering feedback because I know offering feedback can make people really nervous. How should we approach conversations where we're really needing to adjust the way someone is doing their work, or change their behavior? Yeah, so, the thing about feedback and what makes people nervous about giving it, is they're so used to always being negative, always about what you messed up, what did you screw up, what mistake happened, and then fixing it. That really shouldn't be the bulk of your feedback. The majority of the feedback that you should be giving your employees is about what they do well, what you think they're exceptional at, what their strengths are, and then like, how to use those to do more. Mkay? So, and it's gonna go different ways. You're going to give good, positive feedback and you're gonna do it regularly. You're going to do it daily, weekly, whichever it may be, but you're gonna do a lot of it. And it's really not that hard. And when you do enough of that, when it comes time to address something that went poorly, they're gonna be more open to listen to you and to hear what you have to say, and know that you're helpful, and that you're really in it for them. And if you're thinking like, oh my gosh, this is, how much time does it take? You can give feedback in as little as 10 seconds. It's super easy. So, I'm gonna demonstrate for ya. Hey Tara, can I give you some feedback?
Yes please. Great, hey, I wanted to tell you really quick, that I love the environment you've created with this class, you've gotten entrepreneurs together, in a warm space where they can talk about things they feel very vulnerable about, and be open to solutions from their peers and from others. I think it's fantastic, I love the energy you bring to it, please keep doing it. Aww. Thanks Lucus. How was that? I was waiting for the but. (laughing) No, oh goodness. And that could be one of the worst things you do too, like, do the sandwich, no. You gotta give good feedback, just leave it there because that's right, it feels good, right?
Yeah. Awesome, it's that simple. It didn't take that long. I love the-- Now. Well, just to put a finer, not too fine a point on that, but I love that you said, don't sandwich the negative feedback because, I mean, I literally was waiting for you to say but. And that does not feel good, right? That feels like, when's the other shoe gonna drop? And I think we've all been in that scenario, and if I'm feeling like that while you're telling me how awesome this is, then our employees might be feeling that too. And the only way you can reverse that pattern is giving positive feedback on it's own, right? Yes, absolutely. I'm 100% with you. I've had bosses do that too where, and you know what you do? You block out what good things they have to say because you're bracing for the bad stuff.
So true. And it's just, and if you're really good and you're a top performer, by the way, 90, 95% of the stuff that you're doing is good, then you should hear about it. And a good boss is gonna do that. Now, an example of what it's gonna be like when you have to give some constructive feedback. So, you know, one of the common problems with a long distance business, like we run online, where you're not face-to-face with your employees can be like a lack of communication. So, let's say you've hired Sheila to be your customer contact person. And one of the responsibilities of hers is to send a status report to your clients every Friday. And she's agreed to cc you on it, so that you know it's going out, it's getting done, and you can see it, mkay? Now, let's say two weeks have gone by, and you haven't seen a status update. It would sound something like this. I'd be like, hey Sheila, I haven't seen a status report in the past two weeks, what's going on? So, she'd probably tell you like, oh, I'm sorry, I forgot to include you on it, but nothing's wrong, it's okay, whichever it may be. I'm gonna come back to her and go, well, hey Sheila, when you don't include me on the status update to the clients, I worry that we're not communicating with them and we're failing to meet the commitment that we said we'd give them, and that makes me worry about losing business. So, in the future, would you please include me on all status updates in the future? And she's probably gonna commit to and go, yes, absolutely, I will. You'll be like, great, thanks, I look forward to seeing that next one. Now, when that next status update comes in, you're going to give her some positive feedback. Hey Sheila, thank you for living up to your commitment and sending me that email and including me on it, it lets me know you're on top of it, I really appreciate it. Keep doing it.
Awesome. That's it. I know another thing that you shared when we did the reluctant manager conference at CoCommercial, was the idea that we're giving feedback on behavior, versus giving feedback on whether someone is good or bad. Can you say a little bit more about that for this crew? Yes. So, one of the key elements to feedback is you're trying to influence future behavior. So, what do you want them to keep doing, do more of, or what do you want them to stop doing? Or maybe even a stop doing, and then what should they do in its' place? So, the thing about the behavior is it's like, you get somebody, so, I mentioned you, hey, keep creating a warm space like this for people to share and be vulnerable, that's gonna take many different forms and you're just gonna do it because you're gonna know, hey, he's asked me to do this, I'm gonna keep going. Mkay? And the same side on like, if I know what my behavior results in on the bad side. I'm not going to do that stuff where, say, like, my example of Sheila where we don't want the client, or we don't want the boss to think that the client is being neglected, so I'm gonna make sure that I communicate in a way that lets people know that they're cared for. So, again, it's gonna change things that you didn't necessarily directly have to address, and again, it's gonna teach them the way you think on how to act in the future. It's really hard to explain until you live it, it's like when you coach them on something, and they apply it to something else, and you're just like, oh, this is great. Awesome! Cause that's the best part of it is that you teach someone how to do these additional behaviors, they get better. And just like you mentioned before I jumped on, you build great employees and that's how you do it, through the behaviors. You teach them the great stuff to do and they do it, the more of it, amazing things happen. Yeah, cause I think one of the big fears about performance management is that when you have to have a tough conversation with someone, or you have to tell them what they've been doing isn't working, you need to do something else, we internalize that we're saying, you're a bad person, or I think you're not good enough. As opposed to what you've articulated which is just that, hey, your behavior needs to change. We hire good people, let's assume we hire good people, and go from there.
Yeah, definitely. Awesome, so, how often should we be having performance management conversations with people? I think this is gonna surprise some of you out there, but you should be having them frequently. How frequently? Like, constantly.
Yeah. (laughs) The feedback conversation you have, I gave it to ya, it can happen in like 10 seconds, that's a performance feedback conversation. You're letting them know what they do well. Thinking about waiting till an annual review to do it doesn't really help your employee, so don't, I wouldn't recommend that. But what I'd say is, have them frequently, have them on a regular basis where you're helping that person get better. Awesome, I love it. That makes the conversations less intimidating, too, right? If you're just in the habit of doing it, then you don't have to worry about a big conversation, they're happening all the time. Yeah, and you don't want it to be a, oh my gosh, I'm in trouble, I gotta go--
Right. Feel like you're in school, and getting called to the principal's office. Like, oh no, what now? No, hey, this is good and when you do that frequently, it's just that's the culture of what you do, and I'm telling you, employees love it because when they learn from you, they get hungry for more. Yes, that sounds awesome. So, I know you are really big on having really good relationships with your team members, with your employees. What do you recommend that we do that we make habits of, so that we can have those relationships and really help our employees know that we care? Yeah, having these regular performance conversations where you're telling somebody that you notice the things that they're really good at, what they're great at, what they're just fantastic at. And then helping them get better at other things maybe they aren't, you're already showing you care, by doing that, okay? Most managers are not doing that. That is one way that you can do it. Now, in the larger scheme of things, that's not the only way that you show them that you care. You, like you said, you spent a lot of time with this person, bringing them on, training them, you've gotten to know this person, you're doing your weekly check-in meetings. You're understanding what's going on at work, but also outside of work. You need to know the names of the people that they hold dearest, otherwise you'll never get the best out of these folks. Because again, your employees expect to have a great relationship with you. And part of the things that they expect, are these performance conversations. They want to know how to get better, they want to do more, they want to grow. And when you really care about that person, that's the kind of behaviors you engage in, observing what they do, noticing what they do well, helping them when they can improve, and just building that to the whole course of your business, that's how you show people you care. I love it. Guys, what questions do you have for Lucus? LaShanta. How do you create a culture, to where, the people who work for you feel like they can do the same thing to you, comfortably, like how you can be a better manager? So, what she asked is how do you create a culture in your workplace, where you're not just giving feedback, and your employees feel really good about that feedback, but where they also feel comfortable giving feedback to you and saying where they think, maybe you can do something differently or you can, like the whole team can improve? Yeah, so, when you have a great relationship with your employees, you can talk to them. And you're gonna have conversations with them about, say, their performance, like, maybe you're gonna give them feedback and you don't have quite all the information, you're gonna want to let them know, like, hey, by the way, if I don't have all the information you think I should have, please do share. You're gonna have to communicate with them and let them know that, hey, it's okay to talk to me, about things that you think were missing, about things that you think maybe I got wrong, that you can share with me. Great, awesome. What else? Who else has questions for Lucus? Oh, you guys are all great performance managers? Megan. I have a question. I feel like in situations, and kind of everything we've talked about over the two days is gonna help with this, too, but, I feel like I default to, oh, I probably didn't explain it well, or, oh gosh, if we had a better system in place, they probably would've not that made that mistake, or something like that. Instead of maybe giving them feedback. Yeah, so, how do we evaluate when we're the problem, when we've done something wrong, not communicated clearly, and when they actually didn't perform or behave the way we wanted them to? Yeah, so... In one of the examples I gave, I was giving the constructive feedback, one of the things, if I walk back through that and I go, hey, I didn't get those status emails, what happened? That's the employee's chance to tell you what happened.
Mm, yeah. And then that's your chance to address it. So, that employee might say, oh, I cc-ed you on it and you didn't look at it, or whatever, yeah. (all laughing)
Right, it's going to the wrong--
Your inbox, yeah, exactly. Awesome. Yeah, you gotta have that good relationship with them where they can be honest with you, so that when you ask that question, they can give you a straight answer. You can believe them and then you can address what happened and fix it. Yeah, Lucus, I know you mentioned weekly check-ins. But I know more specifically what you're talking about is one-on-ones with all your team members, can you speak to that a little bit more? Yeah, so, the weekly one-on-one, that I would recommend, is that every week you have 30 minutes to meet with every single employee that works for you, and in this time, you're going to have the first 10 minutes allocated to them, as they can talk about whatever in the world is important to them. They wanna talk about puppies, rainbows, what they did this past weekend, that's okay, up to them. Next 10 minutes, it's gonna be time for you, and you get to talk about whatever you want. Odds are you're probably gonna talk about work and then the last 10 minutes you wanna save to talk about the future, okay? What's gonna happen going forward, anything that you wanna throw in there and collaborate on. Now, that's not a hard and fast agenda. Your employee may take 15 to 20 minutes. They may take whichever it may be, right? But this meeting is about them, and it's about developing your relationship with them. So, again, like I said, they wanna have a great relationship with you. So, when you give them the chance to talk about what's most important to them, believe them. If they bring up, what they did this past weekend that was super important to them. If they bring up their concerns about this project that we're working on, that is what's most important to them. Meet them where they are. But I do gotta tell you, that is your best way to really get into stuff, without spending a ton of time just catching up. And when you do it every week, it's not a big production. And you're over the miles from each other, and even if you're close by, it still helps keep that relationship alive, you're never too far away from last week when you wanna find out what happened, so, it doesn't take a ton of preparation. But you're saying week to week, how is this person performing? How are they doing? How are you helping them? But again, you get to intimately know them, how they work, and then that's gonna help you with your feedback, and how you help them develop and grow from there. But, really, it is the absolute core foundation forward. And I'll tell ya, it's a great time to save for some, maybe more in-depth feedback. And your employee will know that during your time, you're gonna talk about work, generally, but when they know it's your turn to talk, they're listening. There's nothing else that they're doing. So, that's a perfect time to do it. And it's set aside every week, so you don't have to worry about getting bumped from anything else. Or, oh, who knows if we can fit it in? No, you know you're gonna be there, you talk about it, it's a safe space, it's just the two of you, and it's really productive. And I gotta tell ya, it's only helped when you do this. People get so much direct one-on-one time with you, that they get to know you, and they get to be very comfortable and talk about the big, better things. And that's when you get to talk about the future and that can go a lot of different ways. Ideally, that's growing your business, and you know, what's next? Hey, you hired them into to do client research. Well, maybe you need them in to do a finance role. Maybe here's where you can talk about, hey, how do I get you there? Do you wanna do this kind of role? What other opportunities do you see here? And you can then guide your future coaching and development into getting them into this big role that your company may need in six to 12 months. (laughs) That's good stuff. What about documentation? Do you document your-- Absolutely, so, I would keep notes for yourself, so you can recall them, like, yeah, but you got a ton of stuff going on, if you've made a commitment to them, you should write it down, document it, be at a sauna, a slack, or wherever you may need to do it. I personally am a big fan of the written stuff, but ya know, what works best for you. Where this helps, is if you review these, you gotta spend about 10 to 15 minutes reviewing, say the past month's worth of one-on-one notes, and just kinda look where it's going. You should have an idea of where, is this person trending up? They trending down? Or are they kinda trending sideways? So, that'll help you know where you can help that person, a little better. Lucus, how can we find out more about you? What you're doing? About the Long Distance Manager? Yeah, you can find out, I set aside four keys to giving feedback on my new website for ya, it's longdistancemanager.com, forward slash, feedback. If you go there, I'll just give you a quick four things about the things that we talked about today, you'll see me there. I'm looking forward to working with some business owners, to help you manage through the difficulties of being remote, because it does have some challenges. But I'll tell you what I've found is that usually the solutions are pretty simple, and that's what I wanna do. Excellent. Help business owners do what they do best. Hiring is so optimistic, I wanna help keep that positive energy moving forward, and help you make that growth that you're shooting for. Brilliant, alright. So, longdistancemanager.com, forward slash, feedback. Yep, that's it. Beautiful. Lucus Lyons, thank you so much. This is really enlightening and you just make it seem so easy, because I think that it might be. I tell ya, when you do do it regularly, it's like second nature. I love it, thank you Lucus. Great, thanks. Isn't he great? I love him. That's Bridget's husband, he's awesome. Alright, so. How ya guys feeling? Do you feel like, if you brought somebody on, you could give them some feedback? You think you could turn them into a really great employee? Any questions? Now that Lucus isn't watching. (laughing) He might still be watching, but shh! Any questions about developing those team members, moving forward? No? Megan. I'm just gonna followup on mine, cause I think it's just so what we've talked about over this whole two days, is getting really clear. Because I definitely came into this class doing what you said at the beginning, where I just have people that just take things off my to-do list, and they're great at it, but they kind of just wait for me to say, do this thing. Even if they have, kind, of recurring roles and things like that. And so, I think then that sets me up to be in a position to say, wait, did I ask it? Again, even though we haven't documented stuff, but to kind of have this mental, like, wait, did I ask them to do it? Did I not do it? Did they not do it? You know? And so I think this, everything we've talked about, about having a really clear job description, so that they have ownership of what they're supposed to be doing, so that I know this is what you're supposed to be doing. So that we can evaluate, so that we can get better as managers, but also, so that we can evaluate, like this is part of your job description and you're not doing it? Or this isn't part of your job description and I shouldn't be expecting you to do it? Or kind of whatever that. Yeah, it goes both way. Yeah. (laughing) Yeah, absolutely. I think that the thing to remember with performance management, giving feedback, correcting bad behavior, correcting wrong behavior, is that if you're not willing to do it, don't hire. Part of the commitment to anyone you're bringing on board, is telling them when they're doing good work, and telling them when something needs to change. If you're not willing to do that, if you're not willing to sit here today and say, yes, I'm all in on making sure my next team member is the best team member for me, they can be, then don't do it. Don't take the leap, even if you've gotten this far in this class, and you're like, yeah, I'm ready, I've got my business all set, if you get to this point, and you're not ready to be all in on that piece, you're not ready to hire. You're not ready to hire. So, hopefully Lucus has made this pretty straightforward. It really is enough to care, and to just be willing to give in 10 seconds, 30 seconds, 60 seconds, that both positive feedback, and that course correction when necessary.