For all our many flaws, we pride ourselves on our ability to organise things down to a tee, to our politeness and for our non-confrontational manner (for which we apologise even when we are not at fault!). We may moan about the weather constantly, but what can’t be resolved by a good cuppa?
Whilst these attributes may hold us in a favourable light, can these Great British attributes play havoc when trying to implement a strategy for improved performance management?
When it comes to managing performance effectively, research shows that goal setting (Locke & Lantham, 1991) combined with regular feedback are critical. However, is our polite and non-confrontational stance likely to interfere with providing real, regular and quality feedback? Certainly, feedback is essential for improved performance but if delivered in the wrong way, or not at all, it can hold little, if any positive influence.
A manager who delivers dishonest feedback out of fear that it could be taken the wrong way may well be airing on the side of caution so that they do not further impact negatively on performance however the feedback is meaningless and will not help develop the employee. Peer-to-peer feedback or 360 Degree Feedback could also lead employees to be dishonest out of fear of confrontation. For more information on how to deliver valuable feedback, you can download our latest e-book here: ‘Feedback – the game changer for performance management’.
We may well be stereotyping here but our reserved British character may also stand in the way of performance ratings. If employees are asked to rate their own performance against a set of objectives for their appraisal they may give a modest rating even if their performance has been outstanding. Using a tool like Actus Recognition, peers are able to recognise their colleagues hard work against a set of core values such as ‘tenacious’ and ‘supportive’. This way managers are able to look at the recognition provided against the employees rating of themselves to help determine how accurate it is.
Americans are typically generous with praise whereas a Brit’s reaction can often be self-deprecating and bashful: ‘Well done on that presentation’ elicits ‘Oh I thought I saw a few yawns from the audience’. Self-praise is often seen as ‘blowing your own trumpet’ and we can often show little generosity in providing it too. Whilst we are not suggesting that we all adopt the American attitude, managers and employees alike can all do more to show recognition towards their peers. When using performance ratings, negative terminology such as ‘Meets Expectations’ or ‘Acceptable Performance’ can be highly demotivating compared with aspirational language including ‘Fully Achieved’ or ‘Complete Performer’. Using the right language when offering feedback on performance and recognising others is key to effective performance management and improved performance. For more information on performance ratings, access our whitepaper here.
We have a lot to be proud of being British, aside from The Beatles, Fish and Chips and William Shakespeare, we have a rich heritage that draws in tourists from around the world and we pride ourselves on certain traditions and practices. However, are these getting in the way of the workplace?
According to a UK based study of 1,600 companies, recently run by Perkbox, many companies are still stuck with old fashioned traditional workplace practices which could directly be affecting their staff. Modern, less traditional workplaces that offer more freedom for flexible hours, creative work environments and long-term career development programmes are the future and the sooner that us Brits realise this, the more likely we will retain our top talent.
Above we have outlined some of the ‘typical’ British traits in the workplace. It is important to recognise that globalisation and changing workplace demographics have led to these factors becoming less significant; however we can still draw useful insights. We should be proud of our Great British Workplace, yet there is much to be learned from other countries across the globe, where productivity is greater and other factors such as work-life balance are greater yet.
If you are looking to improve performance in your Great British workplace, why not take a look at Actus Performance Management Software by clicking on the button below.