Anchoring your performance feedback alongside your organization's core competencies is a beautiful thing. Let me explain and provide some resources and tools on this topic.
If you work at Rockland Trust, a Massachusetts-based 120 year old bank with about 2,000 employees in 77+ locations everyone can tell you, “We’re a place where each relationship matters”. From the interview, onboarding, coaching, training, rewards and recognition everyone knows Rockland Trust is a place where all relationships matter. Case in Point: Bob, a Loan Officer, was great with clients: professional and respectful. Yet when it came to Bob’s tone and approach with the back office staff he showed impatience, frustration, raised his voice and generally treated colleagues poorly.
Here’s how the conversation between Bob and his manager played out:
Manager: “Bob, this is awkward to bring up but I wanted to talk to you about your behavior with the back office team. And before I say much more I want to point out that the behavior I’ve seen and heard about isn’t in line with our “Where each relationship matters” value.
“I need for you to put just as much effort into building positive, productive and professional relationships with your colleagues much the same way as you’ve done with your customers”.
Bob: “I was wondering if you were going to say something about that”.
Michael Shipman, VP, Talent and Organizational Development for Rockland Trust said, “The overarching value of “Where each relationship matters” is so well known that Bob’s response wasn’t surprising. Why? Because Bob knew his actions weren’t aligned with the bank’s values. The intent of an organization’s value statement and competencies are intended to communicate “this is the type of place we are and here’s what we expect.” Whether those things are really expected and enforced is hit or miss. Bob’s response says he knew the expectation but was testing whether he was going to be held accountable.
When someone in your organization is conducting himself or herself in a way that is behaviroally disruptive chances are that a number of your core competencies are being violated. This can be powerful stuff when it comes to justifying and providing performance feedback.
When is bad behavior ever ok?
The bad behavior with good work results type of employee is oftentimes given a pass because of his/her work ouput. I often hear, "We need these types of people". This is one of the points that inevitably comes up in every workshop when we talk about the Employee Performance Continuum. In anticipation I set up the answer in advance. I'll always have an exercise to get workshop participants to review and rank order their organization's competencies. Then I have them rank the competencies in order of importance. The only point to this exercise is to get people to internalize the competencies; really read and understand what they mean. Core competencies such as teamwork/collaboration, communication, respect, are givens in most competency models. I'll then ask, "Is there anything that shouldn't be on this list?" Knowing full well that answer is "no" because most of these competencies are so elemental. Then when someone makes the "we need the talented yet behaviroally disruptive employee" I ask, "Do the core competencies we just reviewed 30 minutes ago apply to everyone or just to some". Silence. Point made.
Values and competencies make strong anchors when positioning feedback that addressed behavior that goes against stated values. You can read more about how to leverage your competency model and use it to communicate expectations you can find some tips in an article I wrote: When it Comes to Core Competencies Actions Speak Louder than Words.
If your organization is considering the creation or updating of an existing competency model then there’s a good on-line resource to get you started at the Competency Management at the Center for Excellence.
In your experience have you found the talented yet disruptive behavior types aren't held accountable to stated values?