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'Building Awareness' from Your Talent@Work with Shawn Kent Hayashi

Building Awareness

Posted: Feb 21, 2012

As a manager, you won't be able to help those you manage reach their potential and become star performers if they don't really know their responsibilities. It may sound obvious, but it's not -- many of those I have coached over the years express frustration with their job because they don't have clearly defined accountabilities. They aren't actually sure what they are supposed to be doing to be a star performer.

Your job as a manager is to create a conversation around effective performance. To do that, however, you need to answer three questions first:

  • Why does this position exist in our organization now?

  • What will this position be responsible for?

  • What will the people who perform this role really be held accountable for?

If you discuss what effective performance looks like and sounds like and what the rewards are for performing well in each area, you have expectations for the person in that role to meet. Once those expectations exist -- can be written down and discussed -- you have the opportunity to create star performers. It's all about building awareness, because people do not know what they do not know. By that I mean someone who is incompetent doesn't recognize the incompetence.

Having conversations that build awareness about competencies, that show people what would be useful for them to focus on next for their own development in their current role, helps them grow. An awareness of expectations is crucial for success, and it can come by way of a Talent Audit or also called a Job Benchmark. What do I mean by that? This is a tool that helps employees truly understand exactly what is expected of them in their current role. What communication style is best suited to the work they are doing, what values and motivators are rewarded by the work being done, what natural talents are necessary for success in this role and what level of emotional intelligence the job requires? These questions are answered in a Job Benchmark.

Completing a Talent Audit or Job Benchmark enables us to clearly identify what is necessary for success in a particular role.

Don't be thrown by the terminology-creating a Job Benchmark is a pretty straightforward process. Invite key stakeholders and a team of subject matter experts to collaborate on defining the position. The team should include the positions' supervisor, the senior manager and one or two of the top performers in that role, if there are any. You could also include customers and peers who rely on the role to complete their work. This benchmarking process aligns the position with the most current strategic business initiatives.

Team members define why the job exists and how it fits -as long as it does still fit -- into the organization's ongoing strategy. You will see that a clear picture of the work will begin to merge, including competencies, motivators, personal skills and the communication style that best suits the role. Use a job benchmark to coach existing performers so they understand clearly what's expected of them in their role.

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