Broadening Knowledge Base LO5295

Rol Fessenden (
01 Feb 96 09:36:57 EST

Sb: Broadening Knowledge Base LO5181

Diane has a few questions about mandating behavior rather than mandating

"I have two questions for you, or any others who would like to jump into
this conversation:

1) Do you feel there should be a method of assessing employee behaviors
vs. that which is expected, in a way that will make it objective, or as
objective as possible?

In other words, how can we minimize subjective assessments, which can lead
to confusion when working for different supervisors (transfer). For
example, I may work for one supervisor today, who feels my interpersonal
listening skills are "excellent" while another supervisor I may work for
in six months from now feels this same skill is "fair.""

2) When it comes to personal development, what kind of behaviors would you
mandate? How would you measure these behaviors objectively?

3) Would you consider "interpersonal development" the same as "personal
development?" For example, a lack of certain skills affect only me and my
value to my employer (or any other employer). However, a lack of other
types of skills (interpersonal) can affect the level of effectiveness
between a designer and engineer or members of a team.

I ask these questions because I have recently joined a team my
organization has formed for Training and Education. GM has a good
training program for Continuing Development. Our task is to understand
the training needs of our particular organization, come up with
measurement plans, make recommendations to management and assist with
implementation. Note that this team is multi-level, most of the
participants being product designers of various levels, like myself.

I would also like to know, if those responding to this LO message have a
problem with me sharing the responses with my team.

*** End Quote ***

These are tough questions to answer if you are intending to install an
entire performance review process that gets into details of behaviors. I
think the original question to which I responded was about behavior
_problems_. When I talked about mandating behaviors I was thinking of
establishing minimal performance standards, not an entire hierarchy of
behavior standards, and not with official performance reviews. Therefore,
I would tend to avoid the BIG process in favor of a more local and focused
process which I can describe.

Establishing minimal behavior standards is not hard. Keep the goals
simple and not too refined. A) Stop or reduce individual behavior that is
_destructive_ of team performance (Destructive is a strong word, and
limits our action to the most egregious cases). B) Provide ongoing
guidance, direction, counseling, and training to those identified as most
in need. Included in {B} is removal from teams. Remember, some people
are great individual contributors, and should not be forced into a team
mold that they don't belong in.

While establishing standards is not hard, obliging people to live up to
them can be tough becaue individual people have to take a stand. The
process has to start with the team, or -- less preferable -- with the team
leader. If a person is causing the team a problem, someone on the team
should bring it up. If Bill is interrupting, someone needs to say, "Let's
let John finish talking. I really want to hear what he has to say." It
would be helpful if others would nod in agreement.

Without this first step, there can be no real improvement. Bill needs
first-hand knowledge, and he needs to hear it immediately from the team
that they find his behavior -- not him, but his behavior -- problematic.
Most of us -- all of us -- need one or two jabs like that per year. That
is not problem behavior at that point, and we can all learn a bit from it.

For some few, the team's reaction does not help, and behavior may get
worse. These people may benefit from more penetrating work. So someone,
either supervisor or team leader, has a one on one meeting. At this
point, the 'assessment' is complete. There is a record of many lapses in
behavior, documented by the team, and brought up in public to the person
who has the problem. The evaluation is also pretty clear, and the person
has some choices, among them, training classes. He or she may also opt
out of the team.

By the way, everyone learns from this process, not just Bill. Some others
who are mildly problematic will probably improve by observing the sequence
of events.

I think that answers question #1, but you need better experts than me to
go into the other questions.

By the way, publish whatever you want, but it is mine, ant my company's.

 Rol Fessenden
 LL Bean