As a manager you will have a range of different roles and responsibilities, whatever organisation you work for. These include ongoing managing of the performance of your staff.
Well-managed staff are more motivated, more productive and happier in their work. This benefits the company as a whole, as well as the individuals who work for it.
Performance management is vital, but it can be challenging: it requires thought, planning and structure, as well as sensitivity in the way you support your staff.
What is performance management?
Performance management is the way that individuals and teams are managed and directed by their team leader or manager.
It should be carried out:
- Across the whole organisation
- By well-trained managers
- Throughout the year, not only in annual reviews
- In 1-2-1s and team meetings
- Verbally and in writing
- Through formal and informal processes
In other words, performance management is not one but a range of processes that help staff grow and develop while working towards the same organisational goals. Employees should be encouraged to see themselves as part of the bigger picture and understand how their daily activities contribute to the company’s overall strategy and objectives.
Importantly, performance management should recognise positive achievement and provide a constructive approach for those who are underachieving.
What are the key performance management tools?
Sitting down with each member of staff once a year for a quick chat is not enough. To bring about the best results, a manager should carry out year-round activities.
Here are five recommendations:
- Set goals – set short-term and long-term goals and communicate these to staff and teams. This should include an action plan that sets out the objectives that employees are working towards.
- Establish parameters – ensure staff know and understand their employer’s policies and procedures, as well as the strategy behind a specific project. Create Personal Development Plans (PDPs) for each staff member.
- Monitor progression – supervise the activities of employees, to ensure that progress towards identified goals remains on track.
- Evaluate results – analyse the progress of individuals and teams and evaluate the end results of each project.
- Provide feedback – not only at annual staff appraisals but on a regular basis and throughout specific projects.
There are several business tools that a team leader or manager can use to help with performance management, for example SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic, Time-framed) and SWOT Analysis (see our blog on Management Models – SWOT Analysis).
How to motivate staff through performance management
One mistake that many managers make is that they don’t provide feedback on an ongoing basis.
Staff should be praised when they do well and given constructive help when their performance is under par. Saving up feedback for one annual session is less effective as:
- If staff don’t receive praise, they may feel that their positive contribution is not being recognised during the year – they may even choose to leave for another job before their annual review comes around
- If staff don’t receive guidance, they will continue to make the same mistakes throughout the year and will feel demotivated by hearing all the negative feedback about their performance in one session
Negative feedback should be factual and non-judgemental. Use questions as part of your feedback – for example: “What would you do differently next time?” – and listen carefully to their answers. Consider whether you should be offering additional training to support the staff member.
Be aware that employees who have done particularly well may be expecting to take on more responsibilities or receive a promotion.
Staff under your management should feel that they will be listened to any time that they come to you for feedback. They will also look to you for guidance on how to behave: complaining about a member of staff to their colleagues is a definite no.
However, be aware that there is no such thing as one size fits all when it comes to performance management. Some team members may be ambitious whereas others are happy to coast along, and individuals may react in different ways to the same piece of constructive criticism.
An effective manager will carry out all-year-round performance management activities rather than relying on an annual staff review.
They will spend time creating action plans, monitoring progress and ensuring that all the staff in their care are progressing and working towards the same company goals.
You may also like to read our blogs on Policies and Procedures – Why we need them and Policies and Procedures – How to write them.