Historically Performance Management often had a negative connotation to it. Employees often thinking of this process as them being micro managed or management thinking that their performance is beneath par. Employers often thought of this process as time consuming and more paperwork for them.
In essence we need to understand the deeper meaning of what Performance Management is and how effectively when implemented correctly, it can hugely benefit the organization as a whole. To summarize it is an ongoing, continuous process of communicating and clarifying job responsibilities, priorities, performance expectations, and development planning that optimize an individual's performance and aligns with organizational strategic goals.
A performance program goes even further and seeks to improve performance beyond what is achieved by programming an algorithm in the most expedient manner. The goal is to ensure that employees occupy themselves with useful work to the benefit of the company. Ridding them of processes that could be automated or monotonous work that adds no value to their job profile, growth or job satisfaction.
Performance management is also an ongoing process of communication between a supervisor and an employee that occurs throughout the year. The communication process includes clarifying expectations, setting objectives, identifying goals, providing feedback, and reviewing results.
Performance management is the process an organization follows to make sure employees know the roles they play and the objectives they'll need to follow to be successful.
The benefits of a Performance Management process are:
- Increased employee motivation.
- Improved employee morale.
- Increased retention.
- Consistency among departments.
Performance management programs use traditional tools such as creating and measuring goals, objectives and milestones. They aim to define what effective performance looks like and develop processes to measure performance. However, a Performance Management program turns every interaction with an employee into an occasion to learn instead of waiting for the traditional mid or yearend review.
Therefore, it is easy to adjust behavior, recommend new ways of work and make decisions quickly, where needed, to allow employees to achieve their objectives. This gives employees opportunity to feel accountable for their work and gives a healthier more transparent work environment. It often requires regular meetings which in turn also improve communication between an employee and their manager.
Studies has shown that when expectations are clear the workplace becomes less stressful. Employees feel like they have direction and are not being kept busy with random tasks and in turn management can measure performance better as they have a clear understanding of what is required from their team.
Performance Management Programs consist of the following elements:
- Aligning employees’ activities with the company’s mission and goals so that they understand how they fit into the bigger picture.
- Development of specific job-performance outcomes so that it is clear for the employee of what effect their work has on the company and how they should interact with internal and external customers.
- Creating measurable performance-based expectations. It is important for an employee to be part of how their success is measured.
- Defining job-development plans so that the employee feels that they can get the opportunity to gain knowledge to the benefit of the company.
Unfortunately, due to many external or internal factors, there are always the risk that even the best management style or Performance Management program can still lead to some employees not performing at optimal level. This ultimately affects a team’s performance and it is important to identify and rectify this quickly so that it has minimum impact on the business.
Below are a few tips on how to turn an underperforming employee or team around and boost productivity.
- Although not easy, it is important to address the problem immediately and set corrective course so that the impact is minimal. Always use constructive criticism and make sure that you are not perceived as “attacking” the employee as the problem might get worse. Listen out for clues that might make you understand why the performance has dropped. It could be something in the employee’s personal life or at work that could be easily fixed to bring them back to optimal performance levels.
- Set goals to give them an opportunity to turn their poor performance around. Let them work together on a plan to make them feel that they are part of the solution. There might be some tools that are lacking that could enhance their performance such as software or they might need mentorship from a more experienced co-worker.
- Provide feedback through regular check-ins to ensure that the employee has what they need to meet their deadlines and get their performance up to par.
- Encourage and inspire the employee and make them know that you see how hard they are trying to increase their performance. The more they are encouraged, the harder they will try to get things right.
It is important for a good leader to understand that even a high performing employee could go through a tough time and their performance could drop for a period of time. Managing that correctly is crucial to retain them. The last thing a company can afford is to lose a good employee because of mismanaging them during a time when they needed support from the business.
When a low performing employee is guided through a Performance Management program and ends up a high performer they might be grateful to have had the opportunity to be guided by their management team and not left in the dark, leaving them as dedicated staff for years to come.