Barbara and I both love going to the theatre and seeing live performances -- concerts, plays, it doesn't matter. It's amazing to me how performers can go on stage night after night, sometimes twice a day, and engage an audience in flawless entertainment.

We saw the play Nice Work If You Can Get It on Broadway in April. There was one scene where Matthew Broderick and his leading lady danced around the stage, including on couches and tables singing S'Wonderful. It was (wonderful) and I was exhausted just watching them. I marveled at the energy they expended in that one number -- and they had one more act and six more scenes to go!

Since I take the "stage" periodically to make a presentation, I suspect that professional performers reflect on each performance. I know I do! To the audience it may seem flawless, but the good performers always ask: "What can I do differently to make it even better the next I have to perform?"

Do all your employees perform flawlessly? Do they all strive to be better the next time? As a "director" of their performance, what do you do when they don't?

The role of a manager is part producer (i.e. finding the right talent) and part director (i.e. assuring the show goes on as planned). Consider the following:

Are you diagnosing the problem? Do you have the right performer in the right role? Do they have the talent (i.e. skills) and all the props (i.e. tools) to perform in this gig? If not, what will you do to get them the skills and tools they need? If they don't have the talent (i.e. can't dance on tables), then can you use their talent elsewhere?

Have you set expectations and clearly communicated them? Does the employee understand that his or her performance is not flawless and that the audience (i.e. management, customers, stakeholders) are not wowed by it? Are you discussing problems on the day of the performance and not at the end of the show’s run (i.e. the annual appraisal)?

Are you documenting the issues? Do you have refutable facts and evidence that the employee cannot refute? Are you having those tough conversations with your employees?

These are just some things to ponder when you are looking to strengthen performances. In The Big Book of HR you will find a whole section devoted to Employee Development. Developing employees is a process and is a crucial part of your role as managers. Even your "stars" can develop and prepare for the next role. Your reward is when your "cast" gets that standing ovation and there are calls for an encore.

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Managing people is the most challenging part of any leader's day. And that job certainly is not getting any easier. The Big Book of HR will provide any HR professional, manager, or business owner of any size organization the information they need to get the most from their talent. It is filled with information on everything from the most strategic HR-related issues to the smallest tactical detail of how to manage people.