Effective Leaders Invest in Equipping Their People to Succeed

A manager’s primary duty is to help his or her people make their very best contribution to the success of their organization.

Who do you know that got up this morning and made it their objective to fail in their assignments or job?

Yet every day, regardless of industry or level of responsibility, ineffective managers permit talented people to struggle to make their best contribution to their organizations.

Why? Because ineffective managers improperly equip their people to succeed.

That’s where understanding a holistic approach to managing people is so important.


A Model for Holistic Performance Management

Many people think of performance management as the process of addressing someone’s poor performance or behavior. That’s akin to saying that an automobile is just an engine attached to wheels. Both descriptions leave out many of the most important parts.

The Holistic Performance Management model below shows how related activities can be used to equip and develop self-directed performers, and to correct performance when it gets off track. It’s a progressive model that is divided into two zones:

  • The Equipping Zone, where individuals learn and master skills and knowledge, and
  • The Correcting Zone, where individuals who have mastered skills and knowledge correct occasional shortfalls.


The Equipping Zone

This is the area where managers and supervisors should spend 80% or more of their time. It assumes that the right people have been hired and placed into the right roles.

A building is only as sound as its foundation. Likewise, the foundation for sustained high performance must be made sound. These five activities associated with the Establish quadrant are typical foundational activities (but not the only ones):

1. Job Descriptions not only help guide an effective hiring process; they also serve to outline key job duties and responsibilities.

2. Goals & Objectives serve as destination points for the job’s duties and responsibilities, against which performance will be measured, both quantitatively and qualitatively.

3. Setting Expectations requires clear and concise definition, in order to align someone’s efforts with his or her goals

4. Teaching New Skills and knowledge is essential training to elevate someone’s capability to perform his or her duties at a higher level. The “teacher” is responsible for assuring the “student” understands what has been taught, and for observing the correct application of the new skill or knowledge.

5. Assigning Work includes what is to be accomplished (quantity and quality), when it is due, why it is important to be done well, what resources are available, and how and when progress will be measured.

These five activities are not an exhaustive list, but representative of Establish activities.


Once the appropriate Establish activities have taken place, the Coach quadrant helps people master what they’ve learned:

1. Observing Performance is the first step to making sure that people are performing what is expected. It’s the way to catch them doing things right


2. Coaching & Feedback are essential to guide people in perfecting what they’ve learned. The best managers spend nearly half their time in coaching and providing feedback when interacting with staff members.

3. Working in an ideal Motivational Climate is vital for people to want to do their very best. Since each person is driven by their own set of motivators, it is essential for supervisors to leverage staff members’ personal motivators when assigning work or projects.

4. Evaluations – letting people know how they are doing against a set of standards and expectations – should be done informally along the way, not just as an annual event.

5. Solving Problems is a way that people master an area. The most effective managers lead staff to solve their own problems instead of doing the problem solving for them.

There really are no shortcuts to the Equipping process. If you invest your time in Equipping properly, you’ll spend so much less of your time Correcting.


Equipping Poor Hires


Question: What happens when you hire the wrong person and invest in equipping them?

Answer: You have an equipped-but-wrong staff member!

Whether you have hired a new employee, or moved an existing good performer into a wrong role, you are likely faced with needing to make a change. You have an obligation to the employee, his or her coworkers, customers, and shareholders (or stakeholders), to remedy the situation. Best advice: hire (or promote) the right people into right the roles for them and the organization.

If you have placed the right person in the right role, and equipped him or her for success, then he or she can master an optimal use of knowledge, skills, talents and abilities, along with appropriate workplace behaviors.

In our next post, How Effective Leaders Correct Their People Back to Success, we’ll explore the Correcting Zone of the Holistic Performance Management Model.


This article was excerpted from Boyer Management Group’s award-winning leadership development and sales management programs, Leading Through People Module 6 and B2B Sales Essentials Module 25.

I love working with people and organizations who want to improve their effectiveness! Here are several outstanding resources that can help you and your organization to go to the next level:

I work with some of the world’s top employers by helping them get the most out of their talented people. My company’s extensive leadership development course catalog provides effective skills-building for everyone in the organization, from the new / developing leader to the seasoned C-level executive. My company’s coaching programs produce significant results in compressed periods of time. I also help job seekers, higher ed, and employment services connect people to better jobs faster. My company’s acclaimed career development tools help people navigate the ever-changing landscape of conducting a successful job search. To find out more, please visit us at www.boyermanagement.com, email us at info@boyermanagement.com, or call us at 215-942-0982.


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