Many people cringe when they hear the term “performance management” and associate a degree of negativity with the experience. Due to badly managed performance management experiences, people now believe the term to mean the type of attitude or approach required to manage people’s poor performance. Whether we are leaders, managers or employees, we tend to feel let down, the team suffers, results are always questioned and pressure is placed on managers to fix “the problems”. We end up expecting the situation to be difficult or for people to be difficult and for the conversations to be awkward. It feels time-consuming, energy-consuming and hard.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
With the right approach, the experience of performance management can be positive, proactive and enhance the leadership skills. Yes, we need to recognise that sometimes things go wrong, but the right strategies can make the experience a positive one.
If you allow the conversation to be two-way, you can find out ways that systems and procedures can be improved. Perhaps the employee is feeling frustrated by an outdated or under-resourced process. By listing and brainstorming, new improved methods or strategies can be implemented and increase productivity. A good use of systems or technology to track productivity elements (such as time, quality, efficiency, effectiveness etc) can help to pinpoint areas of improvement. The employee is likely to feel frustrated or unmotivated by problems too. A first step in the right direction is to ask them
what can be done to make improvements. Additionally, setting goals for the individual that align with the companies goals, helps the employee to focus. However, the goals need to have a way to clearly measure the outcome. Not only does this create purpose but transparency.
Obviously, ensuring that staff are following procedures correctly is vital for Work Place Health & Safety, however, there are also other hidden risks that can be addressed by effective performance management.
An open and transparent conversation will allow an employee to raise their own
frustrations or concerns about their working environment, that the employer may not be aware of. This allows for a collaborative approach to improve the performance of the employee but also for the employer to implement or trial changes for the better of the business. The type of underlying issue that can surface could include potential risk around:
- inconsistent quality
- slow down in delivery
- unnecessary time wasting processes
- physical risk
- wasted or exhausted resources
- inconsistent expectations
- constant variation in procedures
- loss of clients or business
Business Growth through Leadership.
When you support the growth of your team, you support the growth of the business.
Dr Irena Yashin-Shaw, who has a doctorate in creative problem solving, says that good leaders will deliberately create learning opportunities for their team. A strong leader will support people who are working in demanding and stressful situations to realise the opportunity, to recognise that these very same experiences are also stretching them and developing their leadership skills. However, most of us only appreciate it in hindsight so it requires a mindful approach. She says “These are the experiences that are helping to create a body of knowledge and experience that are ensuring that they have a career that will serve them well.”
I had a client recently, struggling with the relationship with one of the more senior staff, assigned with the task of training and mentoring her. The business owner might direct my client to learn in a particular area, yet the senior staff member would stunt this development with the belief it was not relevant, not needed or not a priority. My client felt stuck in the middle. Fortunately, the Business owner came up with the directive that each staff member would review their list of required competencies and assess how well everyone was doing. This actually gave my client a sense of relief. My client was not feeling confident that they had grasped the required detail needed for some of the serious and delicate work. They took it upon themselves to write down any procedures (if they didn’t exist) and have someone more senior sign off on them, to agree that this is the way it should be done, to avoid any future conflicts.
Stay Aligned with the Vision or Culture of the Business.
The opportunity for an oper conversation creates an opportunity to reinforce the values of the organisation, more specifically, the vision (long term goals), purpose(why are we here) and the mission(how are we doing this). A good leader will reinforce discussion around who it is we actually work for, why do we do it and where are located. The location might seem odd but sometimes this is relevant in terms of culture. Not just community culture but workplace culture, for example, which region are we dedicated to supporting. Simon Sinek, author of Start with Why
says that we can impact significant change in those around us, if we focus on the “Why” not what we do or how we do it by Why
we do it. When people align with it, they buy products but they also work more productively. This type of communication speaks to our Limbic brains. The section of our brain that does not necessarily to words, but more to feelings and gut instincts, when things “feel right” or just unexplainably make sense. It’s where we can act with “heart and soul” rather than clocking in and out for the dollar.