Business cannot thrive without a focus on results, yet all too often bosses who push their teams too hard for results push them instead to misery and poor performance. Here, Vodafone’s UK enterprise director Anne Sheehan shares what she’s learned about getting the right balance between delivering on objectives and motivating workers.
"Every executive you meet will say they’re results driven – and that’s why they are where they are. But not a lot talk about people being happy at work. It’s really important - if people come in with the right attitude, they’ll be braver and push boundaries more, and they’ll be more accountable.
"If you drive results hard without the right environment, you’ll get results but they won’t be sustainable.
"Creating that environment is about being open and honest about the good things and the challenges the business faces, so people understand where the business really is. Don’t assume they won’t understand.
"Ask for feedback. I spend a lot of time with people on our front line, either in person or live-interacting online. I chat to people on the stairs or in the lift, anywhere I can get a real feel for what’s going on. It’s important to listen, acknowledge and act on it – or if that’s not possible then be honest about why. Our UK CEO and I both respond personally to any customer who writes to us.
"If someone’s struggling, you create a plan to help them, and if that doesn’t fix the issue, you need to figure out if they’re playing in the right position. You also need to make sure the objectives you’re setting are realistic.
"If you genuinely think people are not capable of doing their job, you need to take them out – it’s not good for them or the company to stay, and that’s just part of being a leader."
For more information
This feature explains the problem with setting too many targets, while this piece delves into the dangers of perverse incentives. For the story of Intel’s Andy Grove used OKRs to push Intel to win the microprocessor wars in the 80s and 90s, see this feature.
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