How to Improve Win Rates without Being Scary

To be tactical, you need to be more than simply practical. When it comes to improving your team’s performance, the simplest and least expensive solutions won’t always do the trick. No matter how easy they seem, old-school management styles—fear, manipulation and intimidation—simply won’t push a modern workforce into working harder or being more successful.

scary fish not scary boss

There are enough frightening things in the world. Your employees shouldn’t be scared of coming in to work, too. Flickr/Whuups

The problem with strategies that rely on fear is that they inevitably assign blame. They assume that when an employee’s win rates aren’t high enough, it simply has to be the employee’s fault. But the truth is that a worker’s performance can be affected by countless different factors, from a poor office atmosphere, to something in employee training, to a strong economic climate, and everything in between.

More importantly, relying on intimidation doesn’t actually work in helping employees improve their performance. Unless the employee has an extraordinary attitude problem, low win rates aren’t because the employee doesn’t want to succeed. There’s usually something else going on. Once you’ve gathered enough data and feedback to identifies these challenges, only then can you work together to improve work performance.

Here are a few tips for improving employee performance without resorting to scare tactics:

1. Accept that different people have different motivations. Some need recognition or a self-esteem boost. Others are looking to get more responsibility and progress in their careers. Good managers figure out what makes people go, and help them to pursue those goals. Meet with your team members one-on-one as often as feasible, to make sure that you’re still on the same page. This is also an easy way to keep track of problems and concerns your team may have with their workloads or co-workers.

2. Don’t let achievements go unnoticed. Of course, don’t be patronizing either. Employees appreciate honest feedback that is clear about how they’re providing value. Be as specific as you can. Congratulate your team for successfully completing projects, and congratulate individuals for their unique contributions.

3. When you give feedback, be honest but be kind. During performance evaluations, there are times when many employees will feel like the critique is personal. Managers should always be careful to keep things professional. Present your assessments to your employees in writing before you discuss them, so that they have time to reflect on the information they’ve been given. And whatever you do, don’t drag personal matters into the discussion.

4. Set clear, achievable, and measurable goals. Don’t couch goals in terms that are flowery, theatrical, or non-descript. Be direct, be feasible, and be realistic. The goal should also be measurable, meaning that there are specified parameters to determine whether or not the goal was achieved. If it’s not possible to fail, it’s not possible to succeed either.

5. Facilitate employee participation. Don’t just encourage participation, but make it easy and enjoyable to contribute. Empower your team to take charge of their own performances and work environment. Employees who are more invested in their jobs are also more motivated to optimize their performances. That’s how you improve win rates without being scary.

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