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Creating High Performers - 2nd Edition: 7 Questions to Ask Your Direct Reports

Creating High Performers - 2nd Edition: 7 Questions to Ask Your Direct Reports

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Creating High Performers - 2nd Edition: 7 Questions to Ask Your Direct Reports

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16 авг. 2021 г.


Creating High Performers offers managers the means to answer, "Have I done all I can to improve employee performance?" Uncertainty leads to managers not addressing underperformance, not maximizing the potential of good performers, and not finding satisfaction in people management.

Managers don't confront low performance because they are uncertain whether it is the result of their failings or that of the employee. The 7 Questions enable you to 1) discover the truth as to WHY performance is lacking and 2) develop a detailed plan to improve it.

The author's 7 Questions are the foundation for a conversation leading to targeted, effective coaching. Real-life stories experienced by the author as a manager or coach illustrate the value of each question.

Effective performance management is built on an understanding of "why" performance is lacking or below potential. Knowing why a manager can take responsibility for his shortcomings or confront the employee's lack of motivation or confidence. The 7 Questions unearth the true why and reveal needed elements of a performance improvement plan.

Not knowing and acting on the why has resulted in a grim reality within organizations. Namely, "bad bosses" cause 78% unwanted turnover and a consistently low employee engagement rate. And, lack of tools and training for "bosses" leaves them disheartened.

Additions in this 2nd edition include:

1. An expanded discussion of why and how the traditional model for supervision is failing
2. A clear definition of a proposed new role of supervisor (people manager) to meet the needs of today's workforce, including a listing of what products or outcomes a people manager should be delivering
3. How to restart and build a strong working relationship with employees
4. Follow-up questions for each of the 7 Questions to clarify what's possibly missing that could lead to improved performance
5. Why it is essential to ask the 7 Questions in the context of current performance, i.e., whether it exceeds, meets, or falls below expectations
6. An expanded discussion on how to discern whether poor performance is a Can't Do or Won't Do problem and how to solve it
7. A new chapter on how the six ways to employ the 7 Questions for improved organizational performance
8. An expanded Troubleshooting chapter based on challenges/questions of managers that have been trained and coached on the 7 Questions method.

For those new to managing others, this book brings needed clarity and method. For experienced managers, it offers a new approach to overcome the ill effects of old practices. It details how to shift to a new role and establish the trust this new method requires. For both, it offers a way to gain greater satisfaction from managing others and to add more value to your organization.

Organizations that have adopted the 7 Questions to supplement or replace traditional annual employee evaluations have experienced a significant positive shift in organizational culture through improved relationships, greater trust, higher engagement, and better "bosses."
16 авг. 2021 г.

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Creating High Performers - 2nd Edition - William Dann


Creating High Performers:

7 Questions to Ask Your Direct Reports Published through Growth Press, LLC

All rights reserved Copyright © 2021 William Dann

Paperback ISBN: 978-0-99094-402-7

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in

a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic,

mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise,

without the written permission of the author or publisher.

Growth Press, LLC 721 Depot Drive, Anchorage, AK 99501

Table of Contents



1. Introduction to Second Edition

2. The Role of Manager and Supervisor

3. The Two Types of Performance Problems

4. Why A Change in Role and Approach Matters

5. The 7 Questions

Question #1 – Expectations

Question #2 – Good Performance

Question #3 – Feedback

Question #4 – Authority

Question #5 - Timely Decisions

Question #6 – Resources

Question #7 – Credit

6. The Performance Context

7. Relationship and The Underlying Principle of Fairness

8. Putting the 7 Questions to Work

9. Identifying and Handling the Won’t Do Employee

10. Troubleshooting

11. Some Final Thoughts

Appendix 1

Appendix 2

Appendix 3


For a long time, I’ve been interested in the subject of managing people’s performance. To me, there have always been three parts of that process: performance planning, where you set goals and establish coaching strategies; day-to-day coaching, where you follow through on what you agreed upon in order to help people win by accomplishing their goals; and performance evaluation, where you assess how well the person has performed over time. Of these three aspects, which typically is the most time consuming for managers? Performance evaluation. This tends to be the time when they have to sit down and fill out forms on each of their people and sort them into a normal distribution format. Only a few will win, a few have to lose, and the rest are considered average. Or, even worse, they may have to rank order their people. Bill Dann condemns this process, and so do I.

It has always amazed me how very few organizations do extensive performance planning where clear goals are set. They’re even worse when it comes to how little day-to-day coaching goes on.

I always ask managers in my training sessions How many of you hire losers? Do you say, ‘We lost some of our best losers last year, so let’s hire some new ones to fill those low spots’? Of course, you don’t! You either hire winners—people who already have good performance records in their position; or you hire potential winners—people whom you believe you can train to be high performers. Obviously, you don’t hire on a normal distribution curve.

Bill Dann and I wonder why every leader or manager wouldn’t want every person to potentially win—to be a high performer who gets A’s? Yet, to do that, managers have to talk to their people. That’s why I love Bill’s book. He introduces 7 questions you can use to partner with your people for better performance.

Peter Drucker always said, Nothing good ever happens by accident. If you want something good to happen, you have to put some structure around it. If you want your people to perform well, meet and talk with them about how they are performing. Use Bill Dann’s good questions and I guarantee not only that you will become a better leader/ manager, but that your people will become better performers.

This second edition adds a chapter on the distinction between supervisor and manager, expands on the role of managers and explains why that role needs to shift. Also added are in-depth guidance on how to introduce the 7 Questions method to employees, the importance of relationship, the multiple ways the 7 Questions can be used to fulfill a manager’s role and an expanded treatment of how to deal with underperformers.

These changes all serve to provide managers greater clarity re. how to get employees to optimum performance and how to deal with those choosing not to go there.

Thanks Bill, you’re the best.

Ken Blanchard, Co-Founder, The Ken Blanchard Companies

Author of The New One Minute Manager® and Servant Leadership in Action


It took a long while and lots of encouragement to bring about the first edition. Those who deserve to be credited include students of mine, co-workers, partners, clients, friends and loved ones. There are too many of you to mention again in this edition. But there are a few of you that I want acknowledge for their contribution to this second edition.

First, my friend and mentor, Ken Blanchard. In addition to being an inspiration as a human being, Ken taught me the meaning and essence of developing people. He has continued to encourage me to share my own learnings.

Second, I want to acknowledge John Gregoire, current owner and CEO of Professional Growth Systems, with whom I have collaborated on training and coaching to implement the 7 Questions in organizations. John shares my passion for work becoming the source for satisfaction and energy in our lives. He has an insight into the challenges of making the shift to a coach and to deploying the 7 Questions. His insights have been instrumental in the additions to this second edition. An expanded treatment of what has been learned to date, the impact on organizations and how to implement what we now call The Question Method® will be contained in the forthcoming book by that title, co-authored with John.

Lastly, I want to again thank my lifelong partner, Jenny Alowa, for always believing in me and encouraging me to go for it.


Introduction to Second Edition

My purpose in writing both the first and second editions of this work was to fill the void of lack of training for first-time managers and help them gain more satisfaction from that role. Having been thrust into supervision myself without training, I experienced the pains from failure and the self-doubt that was created by my dealing with poor performers. In consulting, I have seen all parties - manager, employee and organization - suffering from this void. My hope is to provide answers to the following:

What results should I be producing as a manager?

How do I become more comfortable and confident in delivering those results?

How do I know if I am doing well?

How do I know if poor employee performance is due to my lapses or that of the employee?

How do I become more effective at correcting underperformance and helping employees achieve their full potential?

Two developments have prompted the writing of this new edition.

First, overwhelming research findings year after year show that the traditional supervisory roles and practices are failing both organizations and their employees. Bad bosses are the greatest cause of disengagement as well as unwanted turnover and may be the leading contributor to underperformance of organizations.

One takeaway from implementing the 7 Questions method is that lack of fulfillment from work constitutes a spiritual crisis for many in the work force. A second takeaway is that higher performance and happier employees are attainable through a change in management practice. Validation of the methods in the first book prompted a desire to improve clarity and useability in a revised edition.

Secondly, while implementing the 7Q’s in organizations has proven the impact of this new approach, it has also uncovered new questions and challenges that need to addressed to help future readers. These are addressed in this edition.

Redefining the supervisor-employee relationship is challenging. It may involve establishing trust where trust has been broken. The 7 Questions work only when and if they reveal new truth. Convincing employees that you want the truth in order for both parties to improve is a precondition for the 7 Questions to add value. A heartfelt communication of why you want to restart will get you there. That new truth can’t be heh, I learned a new tool or the organization needs to shift to this new method. It needs to be a personal realization, a shift in values, an ability to be vulnerable. More about this in Chapter 4.

Through helping clients implement the 7 Questions, the need for a context for the conversation has become apparent. It cannot be an abstract discussion about employee needs or management missteps. It must be about those needs in light of the current performance on accountabilities and standards.

Clients tell us successful implementation has made their annual evaluation process add true value for the first time. Many have replaced the formal evaluation with the 7 Question conversation and action plan.

The 7 Questions method has proven itself capable of shifting organizational culture. Engagement, cooperation, morale, turnover and consequently performance can all be positively impacted. But it requires sustained effort. If it is just another one-shot training program without ongoing support to leaders seeking to make the shift, it will join the history of programs that didn’t make a difference. Chapter 8, Putting the 7 Questions to Work has been expanded to lay out the lessons learned.

Organizational culture or what is labeled ‘level of engagement’ is the secret sauce that separates high performing organizations. Your organization may have the same products/services, the same technology, same locations, same pricing, but a competitor with a healthier culture will doom you. Culture dictates the quality of the experience for employees and hence for the customer. Customers can feel a positive culture and value it highly. Culture creates customer loyalty or what Blanchard calls Raving Fans.¹

The number one concern of those we have coached is how to handle the Won’t Do employee. Scores of questions have led to several distinctions on this question that we explore in depth in a new chapter in this edition.

While adding some new material in this edition, I have also chosen to delete some previous material in order to get to the heart of the matter.

Lastly, several managers with whom we have worked say they have had to read the book several times before trying to put the material to work. To ease this burden, Key Points have been added at the close of each chapter to lessen that burden.

¹ Blanchard, K. & Bowles, S., Raving Fans , William Morrow, 1993


The Role of Manager and Supervisor

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