Managing performance is vital as your business cannot grow unless your people grow. You need to know how well your people are performing, just as much as you need to know how the business is doing. The two are integrally linked. For motivation, your people also need to know what is expected of them and how they are doing.
If you have a process that regularly measures achievement against set targets; and identifies and remedies any shortfalls against these targets, this will help your people and business to grow. Application of that process has to be consistent and fair, whilst recognising individual needs. This can be a tricky balance. You may like to consider your own performance in managing performance and developing your people.
Key Characters of Performance Management
You, as the leader or manager, have the responsibility to set the performance standards – the height of the bar. The minimum performance you allow is the maximum you can expect. It is important to recognise the different people involved. Different approaches will be required for each. Part of that is being able to give constructive feedback, which is a difficult skill that may need developing.
There will be those people who have great self motivation and will often set a standard higher than required. They bring energy and positivity to a business. They frequently have a ‘can-do’ attitude and want to please you by doing their best. They will welcome a challenge, as long as it is realistic.
The risk for you, as their manager, is that you leave them to it, while you focus your attention on others. These people can then feel under-valued and performance can flag. It is important to give recognition to their achievements and use them as a role model.
The creative person likes to come up with solutions on how to achieve your standard faster, better or easier. They may not do the task as you intended, but they will get there. They are motivated by autonomy, making a difference and/or creativity.
Your challenge is to listen to their ideas and not insist a task is done the way that you would do it. The important thing is that you get the required results. Who knows, they may find a more effective way. This is especially important as a business changes and grows. More of the same may no longer work and keeping the status quo can be the death knell of excellence.
There will be those that try to sneak in under the bar, especially if you let them. They will know how to do this undetected. This is where performance management comes to the fore and requires effective leadership. It needs nipping in the bud.
Many managers find managing under-performance a difficult aspect of their work and therefore can turn a ‘blind-eye’. They then get the level of performance they allow.
These people will watch and wait to see who or what gets your attention. If the high flyer and creative ones get praise and recognition, they will want to emulate them. On the other hand, if the limbo dancer gets away with it, they are likely to follow their example. How these people react is down to how you manage performance.
Key Factors of Performance Management
I recently ran a Managing Performance for Growth workshop for Directors of a growing business and a summary of their conclusions is given below.
- Clear direction and vision with defined values and behaviours is the key starting point in setting expectations
- As a leader you need to stay focused on the goals
- Communication is vital in every aspect of performance management
- People need to know their responsibilities/expectations from recruitment, induction and onwards
- People need to feel valued
- The consequences of not complying need to be made clear
- You need to manage expectations – your own and theirs. You need to check that these expectations are realistic
- Motivation is vital and individual motivators need to be understood. There is no ‘one size fits all’.
- It is important to have a strategy for celebrating success
- The business requires a clear progression and succession plan, so people understand what the opportunities for growth are.
- You need a balanced approach with monitoring and follow through
- Appropriate time needs to be spent appraising people before reviews, so you can give meaningful and fair feedback.
- Regular informal reviews need to be held rather than just an annual formal event
- It requires managing stress and well-being to get the best performance from people.
Actions for the Workplace
Knowledge is one thing, but putting it into practice is another. The actions the Directors agreed to take were:
- Be more specific in asking questions during reviews to get down to the real issues. Challenge and not just accept the first answer
- Find out what really motivates individual people in my team
- Prioritise the time to have the necessary dialogue about performance
- Be better at giving constructive negative feedback and be aware of my tone of voice
- Give more constructive praise by being specific about what I am praising.
If you would like to evaluate and develop your performance management, then please contact us.