Question: How does one eat an elephant?
Answer: One bite at a time.
(That was a learning point, not a recipe tip. My apologies to vegetarians and animal rights activists who may object to the analogy. Evil Skippy says fire up the barbecue.)
Many supervisors seem overwhelmed by performance management. I get it. You have a “real” job to do and supervising your staff is just one part of the overall job description. People like me come in with all sorts of grand ideas about the science of management, but all you want to do is get the work done and go home.
Trust me on this one. If you make performance management a daily routine and break the task into easy “bite-sized” pieces, it will soon become pretty easy to do. Part of making it easy is to learn and apply the I.T.S. approach. “It’s” simple.
I = Immediate. Immediate feedback is the most effective kind. When there is a problem, deal with it right away. It is the rare problem that solves itself. In the same way, when there is a praise-worthy achievement –offer the praise right away. It means more to an employee than you might suspect.
T = Think Small. Even if the problem is a minor one, address it. It is crazy to wait until the issue grows into a major disaster. If you engage in a gentle I.T.S. moment when a potential problem first starts, you have a strong chance of avoiding the major future problem that might have developed. Think small about positive feedback, too. People should not have to win a Pulitzer before being told that they wrote a good report.
S = Specific. Do not be vague or too broad. Make your point, and then return to your supervisory day. When necessary, also be specific about consequences if a problem seems to be turning into an unacceptable pattern.
Don’t forget to jot down a few lines about the “I.T.S. moment” to document the occasion.
I.T.S. Moments work. I used them all the time when I managed a group of legal secretaries, paralegals and new attorneys. Talk about nerve-wracking supervision. All of these people knew attorneys!