Performance management is generally regarded as the responsibility of managers and leadership teams within an organisation.
However, it is a two-way street - both the management teams and those they manage must align their approaches to performance management in order to truly achieve high performance and to maintain that of high performing teams. If individuals refuse to accept the performance management techniques and approaches of the manager, the process will ultimately fail.
As a leader, the best interests of those that you manage should always be at the forefront of your concerns. After all, a happy and content team will always perform better than a team which feels undervalued and unrecognised.
There are many theories that explore the idea of motivation as a key factor in performance such as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and Herzberg's Two-Factor Theory. It is always a good idea to understand the background of these theories as they inform many of the approaches and strategies that we undertake in performance management.
Performance management concerns an array of aspects regarding a team’s successful functionality, and there are multiple techniques to tackle any one issue. The key is choosing the correct one for each scenario. Techniques typically form to address the following:
- Monitoring performance: meetings and check-ins
- Progress checks: reviews and summaries
- Setting expectations: demonstrating what is expected and how to achieve it
- Offering incentives: rewards, recognition and addressing poor performance
- Continued professional development: conferences, mentoring for example
Two of the most important steps in any of this are making the organisational and individual performance objectives clear, and then using feedback to review and improve processes and performance.
- Ensure your teams know exactly what it is the organisation is striving for and the values and beliefs it encompasses. This will allow them to identify with and internalise the vision as their own. If an employee does not know these objectives, they cannot meet them reliably.
- Encourage employees to ask questions about how projects fit in with organisational objectives. If they do not fully understand then offer feedback and support them. It is always worse to send a team forward without a vision as the result may be the opposite of the requirement.
- This is important, if a staff member is under-performing, they may not even know it. Meet with them and offer feedback. This does not mean you should tell them they are under-performing and that they need to step it up. This means sit them down identify causes for this underperformance and come up with solutions to aid them, tackle underperformance through growth.
- Do not just give feedback to under-performing individuals, ensure you provide positive feedback to those doing well, this will encourage them to continue the good work as they are being recognised. Furthermore, ensure you let under-performing team members know of their strengths and positives do not solely focus on the negatives.
- Deliver regular feedback. There is a current shift away from yearly reviews as it has been recognised that these reviews create stress within teams and often results in demotivation and withdrawal as a result of any negative.
- 360 reviews allow peers to deliver both positive feedback and constructive feedback whilst simultaneously perpetuating the organisational objectives. These tools enable all member of a team to grow as they can give identify areas for improvement in others whilst considering their own developmental needs.
- Whilst this process is primarily handled by team members the manager should still oversee the generated reports to ensure any claims, concerns, and praises are noticed and addressed. When these aspects are addressed it demonstrates to the team the importance of peer review, as it has resulted in action and as a result, they are more likely to continue to engage in the process.
- Preemptive management
- Preemptive recognition
- Review meetings
- Technologies such as performance management software
Whilst this article has been geared towards management, it is important to remember that anyone can have a say. If you believe there are opportunities for continued professional development, skill gaps or other pressing issues, communicate it with your manager. They might not always be aware, and it is their job to ensure you are comfortable within your role. Issues arise when communication fails so make sure you let them know.