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If you've been a hands-off manager, transforming yourself won't be easy. But with hands-on transactional (HOT) management techniques, you can learn to emulate the rare but incredibly successful managers who are highly engaged in the day-to-day leadership and supervision of their direct reports. Here's what you need to do:
1. Stay up to speed on the key details of your direct reports' tasks and responsibilities by monitoring changes in each direct report's workload, pace, challenges and corresponding needs. Know when to step up the pressure and when to take off the pressure, when to increase your guidance and when to back off.
2. Schedule and carry out regular meetings with every direct report. In an ideal world, you should have a brief session with every direct report every day. At the least, you should meet with each person weekly. Use this outline as a guide for your discussions:
4. Do more for your people but require more from them in return. Take advantage of discretionary resources at your disposal. Gain control of "bargaining chips" and use them to negotiate for increased performance. For example, use your power over resources and work conditions, such as the assignment of tasks, training opportunities, scheduling, recognition, exposure to decision-makers, work location, work partners and so on.
5. Tie every reward to measurable instances of performance. Don't be afraid to reward some employees more than others. Give each employee the chance to succeed, the chance to meet basic expectations, and the chance to go above and beyond. And give each employee the chance to be rewarded in direct proportion to his performance. But remember: If you are going to enforce those deals, you must be hands on, monitoring and measuring every person's performance and documenting every step. And then don't flinch when it comes time to provide the promised rewards that people earn through their choices and behavior.
6. Make high performance the only option. What do you do when, despite your regular coaching, a direct report fails to meet your regularly stated performance standards and the daily goals and deadlines that you agreed on together? Letting people off the hook for performance problems diminishes your credibility and undermines the team. The person you are letting down the most, of course, is the individual whose performance is failing. As soon as an employee's performance starts to slip, you need to take the following chronological steps:
Bruce Tulgan is the founder of RainmakerThinking Inc., a workplace research and consulting firm based in New Haven, Conn. He is the author of several books, including HOT Management
(HRD Press, 2004), Managing Generation X
(WW Norton, 2000) and Winning the Talent Wars
(WW Norton, 2001). Tulgan can be reached at
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