We are already racing into the heart of the year. There is so much to do and not seeming much time to do it. One of the most important things in a business is performance management. You all know my mantra. What you do not measure you cannot manage. How then is it that most companies do not have a good performance management system, and everything ends up being subjective and just plain jungle.
The best managers are always looking for ways to help their team improve. But what does it mean to improve, and how do you achieve measurable progress? The first place to start is to have a plan right from when the employee comes on board.
A good plan should be fully understood by both parties and effectively measure improvement or lack of improvement. I did some research and with what I know have come up with s few really important features a good performance plan should have that will ensure employee and ultimately organisational success.
I hope you will be comparing what you have to this to ensure you are on the right track.
The starting point is a conversation whether the employee is old or new. This will be to talk about performance up to date and expectations. There might be an underlying reason you are not aware of for underwhelming performance. An open-ended discussion will help increase understanding between supervisor and subordinate that should allow them ask for help in specific areas.
Buzz words like progress and improvement may not really mean anything unless they can be measured
This conversation is two ways and there must be a clarity as to expectations and how these expectations are expected to be met. This way you can measure not just outcomes but process and procedure as well.
Performance has to take into consideration, skills and behaviour. Both areas require different plans but in all situations, it is imperative to explain exactly which areas need improvement, and what the performance plan’s ultimate goals are. You must be able to nail down a specific area that needs improvement or you will not be in the position to make and follow a plan.
The plan must define quantifiable standards for success. Buzz words like progress and improvement may not really mean anything unless they can be measured. Imagine that you hire an architect to design you a house, but give no information on square footage, number of rooms, aesthetic taste, and so forth. Both parties would walk away from the process confused and anxious.
The manager must be specific. Instead of asking employees to prospect better, define what that improvement will look like in quantifiable terms. A 5% increase in closed deals is very different than a 20% increase. The meaning of success must be clearly defined to measure improvement. This should also reduce the employees’ stress by letting them know exactly what targets they need to hit.
“Soft” skills (behaviour) can be measured, too. For example, listening skills can be improved with specifics like increased numbers of questions they need to ask in a meeting which can then improve their listening by not allowing them talk all the time. Just telling someone with poor listening skills to listen better may not improve the situation. The more you are able to use numbers to define success, the easier it will be for you and your employees measure progress.
Read also: Scaling organisational team’s performance
The plan must be able to determine a deadline for improvement. Depending on where you are at you may be able to give a longer time for improvements or not have that luxury of time. Regardless there must be a deadline for improvement. Increasing sales activity by 10% over three weeks is very different than the same increase over three months, and your plan should be crystal clear about the timeframe for results.
The organisation must provide resources for improvement. In certain cases, extra training or coaching might be needed for performance standards to be met. Improvement will not happen if everything stays the same. If staff are struggling, it may be because they do not have all the resources they need to excel. By providing them with as much help as you can, you will be setting your business up for success.
Complete transparency is essential. Not mentioning consequences is setting staff up for failure. You have to be completely forthright about what will happen if the plan’s standards are not met. If bonus or promotion or both will be lost or gained as consequence this has to be clearly stated
The plan calls for sober and careful consideration because it carries dire consequences either way of success or failure.
Communication is key both of the agreed plan and regular feedback thereafter. Scheduled feedback meetings to evaluate progress made to date and areas that still need work is essential to an effective plan. Not checking in until the end means you will not be able to provide suggestions and guidance along the way, and it also keeps your employee in the dark about how they’re doing.
I hope this will help you improve or start your performance management of your staff. This is very basic and very simple. I reiterate that you need to schedule regular appraisal times so everybody can check where they are at.
Have a great weekend and keep measuring so you can manage.