Set clear standards to drive performance

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in Leaders & Managers,Performance Reviews

Expectation and motivation go hand in hand. If your employees know how you’re going to evaluate them—and they see that you’re consistent in your approach—then they are more likely to push themselves to excel.

Problems arise when managers keep changing their tune. In the winter, they reward workers for productivity gains. By the spring, the focus shifts to aggressive cost-cutting. Employees think, “Why bother to work hard? Next week it’ll be something new.”

“You motivate people by setting a clear expectation of how you intend to manage them,” says Lee Cockerell, who retired from the Walt Disney Co. in 2006 after overseeing operations for 20 resort hotels and four theme parks. To manage 40,000 “cast members” in Disney parks, Cockerell met regularly with their supervisors.

In each private discussion, he covered what he called “the four P’s”—people, process, projects and profit. He’d tell each supervisor, “When we meet every two weeks, I’ll want you to go over the four P’s.”

Each supervisor updated Cockerell on their employees, process changes in their unit, new and existing projects, and profit data such as the latest sales figures. Because they knew what Cockerell wanted, they prepared carefully and sought to impress him.

“I set it up that way so that I didn’t get any surprises and my direct reports were motivated to exceed my expectations in each of the four P’s,” says Cockerell, author of Creating Magic.

Cockerell’s most enterprising supervisors would highlight successes such as grooming a promising aide to take on more responsibility (people), citing stellar results of a customer outreach initiative (project) or repositioning the soft drinks to boost beverage sales (process). His ability to motivate flowed from the “four P” framework he used to guide his meetings with his supervisors.

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