Getting The Most Out of Your Employees

In it’s simplest form, performance management is a common sense set of discussions that make sure people are clear about what they need to do, have the support to do it and get open and honest feedback on their performance.

Any performance management process should resolve this important questions for your employees:

Direction
Employees are not mind readers. Just because it is clear to the manager exactly what is expected, doesn’t mean the employee has the same understanding. Having a detailed discussion about exactly what the job requires and any specific priorities is the first step in good performance management. Key points to cover include:

– what needs to be achieved throughout the year

– what data or information (evidence) will be used to measure performance

– the key actions needed to achieve the desired outcomes

Both parties should have a written record of this discussion either in the form of a job description or a set of specific objectives for the next 6 or 12 months. Written documentation leaves little room for misunderstandings or confusion between manager and employee about the expectations of the job.

Feedback
Observing the performance of your employees and providing feedback about it should be a routine part of the performance management process. Feedback is most effective in making a difference in work performance when the employee has confidence in the basis of that feedback. And you as the manager will be more confident if your feedback is based on information that you can support.

For this reason the most useful feedback should be based on observed and/or verifiable work-related behaviors, actions, statements, and results. If you can provide specific examples of good and “not so good” performance, your employees will be confident that you have taken time to notice what they are doing and sincerely support them in improving. This kind of effective feedback helps the employee sustain good performance, to develop new skills and to improve performance when necessary. Feedback should be given as it is required – it loses effectiveness if not delivered at the time an event occurs.

Reward/Recognition
All employees need to have a clear understanding of how the reward and recognition system operates in your business. Most probably everyone gets paid a salary for doing their job to a certain level. What happens when an employee performs significantly above that level? How will they be rewarded, if at all? If there is no incentive for employees to be outstanding, then the likelihood is that they won’t put in the extra effort. A well designed scheme will clearly identify the rewards and incentives available for strong or outstanding performance.

Support and Development
This aspect of managing performance focuses on current and future skills, behaviours and knowledge. Firstly, the discussion should focus on what training or other support the employee needs to be the best in their current job – identifying skills and behaviours that need to be improved. If you can support the employee in doing their job better, they will have reassurance that their contribution is valued by the business. The discussion should also focus on where the employee would like to go in the future and how you can help them achieve their longer term career goals. If they are being considered for other roles in the business then you will need to identify what new skills and behaviours they need and help them to develop those.

If you are managing people, then people management activities need to take up the majority of your time. Each business can only be as effective as the people that work in it. One of the best ways to ensure your employees are being effective is to monitor and provide feedback on their performance. Setting goals, making sure your expectations are clear, and having regular discussions will help people perform to their best. The payoff for the business is increased employee productivity, knowledge, loyalty and contribution.