From the Ask Tom mailbag:
I was curious about a study in IT that showed that while managers can see underperformance, they can’t see who is over-performing.
Actually, the results of the study may be correct, however, the conclusion may be flawed.
The results show that managers easily recognize or identify underperformance, but they do not as easily recognize or identify over-performance. The conclusion is that managers do not have the ability to recognize over-performance. I believe that to be false.
Managers do not recognize or identify over-performance because they do not focus on it. Managers allow the distractions of underperformance to dominate their vision and efforts.
It is simply a matter of focus. It is a conscious choice to focus on over-performance, and once that decision is made, the focus becomes quite natural. But it’s that choice that is difficult. It is too easy (unconscious) to see things wrong and too difficult to make the conscious choice to see things going right. -Tom
“But the project you are talking about abandoning is a service that we have provided for more than a decade. Our customers have come to expect it. Heck, part of our reputation stands on it,” Byron protested.
“So, is it your moral duty to continue something that is no longer producing results? Or can you accept that, what you are known for, once served a market, but that market was temporary? And that proud service no longer satisfies a customer need.” -Tom
“I have a dilemma,” Sylvia explained. “I have a team member who consistently underperforms. And, every time I ask what happened, to try to find out what went wrong, the cause of the project failure, I always get a plausible reason. I understand why the project failed and it’s not this person’s fault. My dilemma is, I have a make or break project that needs to go to this person, but I hesitate to assign it.”
“Is this person competent in completing assigned projects?” I asked.
“Not in completing them,” she defended, “but, there is always a plausible explanation.”
“Do you need the project completed, or do you need an explanation?” I pressed, not waiting for an answer. “It sounds like your team member doesn’t get better at performing. Your team member gets better at explaining why the underperformance is never their fault. Your team member gets better at an explanation that you actually believe. The measure of performance is not an explanation. The only measure of performance is performance.”
Short bow to Lee Thayer, Leadership, Thinking, Being, Doing.