To keep your employees happy and productive – what HR people refer to as “engaged”, you need to focus on driving employee performance.
Some business owners think of this as screaming and tearing their hair out each time something goes wrong. We think of it as using proven techniques and tools in performance management.
Another important clarification that business owners and organizational leaders need to be aware of is that the primary purpose of performance management is not necessarily to reward or sanction employees; but rather, it is to get your employees to perform.
Understanding this is critical to designing an effective performance management system.
Here is list of Top 7 powerful things that you can do to improve employee performance in your organization:
#1: Set Clear Performance Expectations:
Driven by your organizational strategy and goals, and linked to the Job roles and descriptions for each individual, you should be able to establish clear performance expectations for each of your employees.
These expectations will align with your overall strategy and goals in a manner that you can see your strategic goals “trickle down” to individual job expectations.
Say for example, a school has a strategic goal of “increasing enrolment through referrals from parents”, you will find performance expectations like – Develop and Implement Referral Card Programme by 02 June” as a performance expectation for the School Administrator and “Host 2 Classroom events with 90% participation from parents” as a performance expectation for a Class Teacher.
In technical HR language these expectations are often referred to as “Key Result Areas (KRAs)” or “Performance Objectives”. Effective KRAs will consist of the goals, timelines, and the measures and trackers to evaluate them. Good KRAs should be Specific,
Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound – SMART.
Some business owners also set behaviour related expectations that usually focus on the “how” of performance and are linked to the company’s values.
This will involve describing in more details the specific behaviours expected under each of your values, and measuring this over time.
Behaviour based performance expectations are more subjective than the results-based ones, and a number of business owners combine both results and behaviour expectations in their performance management systems.
Having set these expectations, the business owner must take time to clearly communicate them to employees and get their buy-in. Some companies create Performance Contracts which employees sign each year, capturing these performance expectations or targets.
#2: Provide Tools and Training:
You should then provide tools and training to enable your employees achieve their performance goals. Again, using the example of the school – you will ensure that there is a budget for each Classroom Event as well as for designing and printing the materials needed for the Referral Cards and for purchasing of bulk sms to contact parents and follow up with them to attend the events.
You may also need training in some areas related to the delivery of an employee’s performance expectations, especially where the employee has no prior experience with that specific type of work. Failing to provide adequate training may ultimately impede the employee’s performance.
#3: Monitor And Track Performance:
You must also design systems to monitor and track performance on all the performance objectives or KRAs that have been set.
Using our school example again, you will have a notebook where each parent signs in at the Classroom Events – this is how you will determine the actual attendance of parents viz-a-viz the target of 90%.
Continuous monitoring, tracking and reporting is good for a healthy Performance Management System.
The use of dashboards is also encouraged, wherein you create a pictorial log of everyone’s performance and have it displayed, so that everyone can see what they have achieved so far.
Again in the school, you will have a notice board in the staff room where a display of the actual percentage attendance at Classroom Events will be placed and updated from time to time.
It can even be designed as a leader-board ranking all the teachers in a manner that promotes healthy competition.
#4: Measure Performance:
Usually, forward-thinking businesses will formally measure performance twice a year or in the worst case, once in a year.
At these performance appraisals, the performance expectations that were set earlier will be discussed, and the actual performance on each KRA will be reviewed. Usually the evidence of performance: trackers and dashboards from previous months will be brought together to enrich the discussion.
A well-structured and implemented system will reduce possible emotional outbursts and confrontations that happen at some performance appraisal sessions.
If your KRAs were well set and communicated, tracked and monitored effectively, you should have a tears-free performance appraisal.
#5: Give Performance Feedback:
As the year progresses especially at those points when you are publishing performance updates and results, ensure that you give feedback to employees in an effective manner – no shouting or screaming, just good old professional feedback that is balanced, observed, owned, specific and timely – BOOST.
You should also give feedback in this manner at the mid-year and year-end appraisals as applicable, but the all-year-round feedback that happens each day is much more important in line with the philosophical objective of “getting employees to perform”.
#6: Reward Performance:
At the end of the performance cycle, business owners should identify employees who did well in achieving the performance targets and provide them performance rewards and incentives based on their existing reward mechanisms.
This will also be an opportunity to differentiate employees, providing lower rewards and incentives to middle and bottom performers. Incentives could include salary increments, performance bonuses, and promotions.
#7: Manage Poor Performance:
As a business owner, you should also pay attention to managing poor performance by providing performance counselling to your bottom performers as well as establishing a performance improvement plan with clear timelines to ensure that they have a clear focus on what improvements are required, the support systems to aid their performance, the timelines for improvements and the consequences of continued under-performance.
Well-structured and implemented performance improvement systems can turn around almost 85% of poor performers, leaving the balance with the options to resign voluntarily or be exited in line with your policies.
With a clear and workable performance management system like we have captured above, you do not have to tear your hair out or scream to manage performance any longer. With these practices and tools you can truly place your business on the path to greatness!