How am I doing? and
Where are we going?
The “how am I doing” question is so important to people in the business as it gives them an insight into their performance, their attitude, their behaviour and, crucially for them, their prospects.
Does this mean that the dreaded annual appraisal becomes mandatory? Not really because I believe that once a year is just not enough. Your people want to know on a regular basis how they are doing so certainly, if you have a number of reports, then the regular one-to-one is best.
When I say regular, I MEAN, regular. It needs to be scheduled on a monthly basis at least, for 60-90 minutes, on the diary and NOTHING gets in the way. What is more, the agenda belongs to the staff member, not the leader. This gives opportunities to raise matters which may normally lie dormant and either not be actioned, or worse, fester.
The other question is more complex. This demands a statement of the vision or dream of the leader (or leadership) of the business and it must be stated clearly and regularly. I like the idea of a short, sharp long term objective for a business somewhat on the lines of the famous Pepsi mission statement of “Kill Coke”. They didn’t and they won’t but it gives the team a focused objective that everyone can understand.
While I certainly don’t like the idea of waging war on the competition, a short, snappy objective can focus minds and behaviour in the business, ideally to have your competitors worrying about you rather than the reverse.
Think one through and then communicate it on every possible occasion and in every possible way. Let it become the mantra of the business and watch performance improve.
Incidentally, take a look at http://www.xtranormal.com/watch/5714885/ for a slightly different take on coaching!