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13 October, 2015

Improve Employee Performance at Work – Why You Need to Focus on Day-to-Day Leadership Activities

Last week I suggested that you’d be well served by documenting the leadership processes you expect of your firstline and middle managers. I suggested in particular, to document the day-to-day leadership activities you require of them.

This week I want to talk about why it’s useful to do so.

I’ve noticed that effective leaders are very good at managing work behaviour. They do this by managing the consequences for that behaviour.

As it happens, the most powerful  consequences are both immediate and certain – while the weakest consequences are those that happen in the future and are uncertain.

Let me give you an example to illustrate.

A surprising proportion of the population smoke cigarettes – even though many people die of smoking related diseases.

So, lets look at the consequences for smoking.

Imagine a smoker lighting up right now. The negative consequences of doing so – becoming ill, potentially dying of a smoking related disease – are uncertain, and if they happen, will occur in the future.

On the other hand – the positive consequences for having a cigarette – feeling satisfied, getting rid of the craving, getting the opportunity to socialise with others – are all immediate and certain – and they drive the smoking behaviour.

Let’s put this in an organisational context. Positive, immediate and certain consequences are going to drive the work behaviour you need from your people.

This can be best summed up by the old saying “Help people to reach their full potential – catch them doing something right”.

My experience in helping organisations to boost employee engagement and grow team performance, is that it is the day-to-day interactions your managers have with their people where they have the opportunity to provide these immediate consequences. As a result, I encourage you to document the day-to-day leadership activities that you expect from your managers.

We’ve recently discussed one example of the day-to-day leadership activity you’ll want to document that supports providing positive, immediate and certain consequences: implementing a process for noticing what people are doing – which I call doing ‘Laps’. You can find more about it here.

That’s it from me for this week. Next week we have a guest post from a Brisbane based colleague, Geoff Wade and he’ll be posting on ‘How to fix leadership problems’.

Until then, have a superb week!


To get our report “The #1 Most Costly Leadership Development Mistake Businesses Make, and What to do About It”, which shows how to make sure you get the increases in employee performance and engagement you’re wanting from your leadership development program, for more profit, click here.


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