Inspirational leadership is not rocket science, says manager
Inspirational leadership is not rocket science and shouldn't be overcomplicated, a BlueScope Steel manager told delegates at the 2010 HR Practices Day in Sydney last Friday.
Be intolerant... and honestAs Australians, "we are really tolerant people", Rooney says - perhaps too tolerant.
Even when poor performance is an obvious issue, "we put up with a whole heap of stuff before we actually do something [and] complicate things because we don't want the difficult conversations".
However, failure to address poor performance can have broad and destructive implications. Even if it only involves one employee, there will be spectators, he says.
"But there is an alternative, thank goodness, and it's so simple. We become more intolerant of poor behaviour - you correct it early."
A colleague once told Rooney that giving feedback to an employee is "an act of love". The words have stuck with him ever since.
"Because if they're not performing well, then everyone around them can see," he explains. Failing to address the issue "isn't really caring for that individual".
"If I wasn't performing I'd want someone to tell me, so I'm going to have that honest conversation," he says.
In addition to procrastinating when negative feedback is called for, Australians often feel uncomfortable about providing positive feedback. However, just as poor performance has a flow-on effect, so does positive reinforcement. "And it's as simple as saying, 'Thanks for doing a good job'.
"You don't need to go out and come up with some fancy awards program or anything like that," he says. You do, however, have to seize opportunities as they arise - "that's a real time moment you have to actually shape the future. And you don't get those moments back... It's got to be instantaneous; it's got to be quick."
By listening, responding to and thanking your employees, "you are reinforcing behaviour you want", Rooney says.
Keep it simple and keep it realWhen giving feedback to employees, and when communicating in general, Rooney's advice is to "keep it simple and keep it real".
"As soon as you start to make things too complicated, you lose people," he says - and if you don't genuinely care for people, they will notice.
"If you're not real with them, they're going to know. It's the only rule I had with my guys... if I can't tell you something because it's sensitive to the business I'll just say 'I can't tell you because it's sensitive to the business' and then they know. But everything else was up for grabs.
"People have great bulls**t detectors," he says. "You've all got them - don't think anyone else is less well equipped."
Rooney sums up his advice to leaders with four Cs:
HR Daily has previously hosted a webinar on handling difficult employees. Click here to watch it (HRD Plus Gold subscription required), or here to order a copy from our online store.