Need to talk about performance but not sure where to start?

People performance is the responsibility of both the manager and the employee. Yes, that’s right there are two parties involved here and when I talk about “people performance” this includes great performance and under performance.

In simple terms, the manager needs to share the vision, set expectations, support development, give feedback and coach. The employee needs to be committed to the job and company, be clear on their responsibilities, be willing to learn and deliver. The glue that sticks managers and employees together is great conversations. If you don’t have meaningful one to one conversations with your employees then start having them immediately. This will build trust. Without trust there is no relationship. Don’t try and be a mind reader… just ask great questions.

Now, there are a myriad of other factors that play a part in people performance including company culture, customer satisfaction, cost, behaviours, processes, org structure, leadership qualities to mention just a few.

Here I’m going to provide some simple and practical tips to start having great conversations and start proactively managing performance of your teams.

Firstly, when’s the last time you informally asked your employees how they are getting on in their role? if they have any frustrations that you can help them with?

Put two one hour slots in your diary per week to start having these conversations, get out of the office and mingle. Great questions to get your started:

  • How’s your week going? Any wins this week?
  • What are you stuck with? How can I help remove the barriers?
  • What can the business be doing to make this the best place to work?
  • If you owned the company what one thing would you do differently?

Secondly, are your employees clear on what their duties are?

Take time to sit down with employees to share how their role fits in with the rest of the business and discuss the importance of each task. Be clear on the link between business performance and the employee delivering these duties well. This is a great opportunity to dust off those job descriptions to make sure they are still valid and fit for purpose.

My third pointer is to never put off giving feedback. If an employee is not completing work to the standard you expect or with the right behaviours, then have a conversation. Yes, us British are renowned for giving feedback with an apology that immediately follows. Stop doing that and start following the feedback model below to remove emotions and provide clear robust and supportive feedback. Feedback should also be given to acknowledge great contribution and performance.

This feedback model is called the BEEF model (Two examples:1 to acknowledge great performance and 1 to address under performance).

  • B is for Behaviour (I need to give you some feedback on the report you produced for the team meeting or I need to talk to you about your contribution at the meeting this morning)
  • E is for Example (Your report was very comprehensive and I particularly liked the fact that you asked people for input prior to presenting it or You didn’t interject and explain the impact on the project if we went down a certain path, which is part of your role)
  • E is for Effect (You are a real team player and that is exactly what we are trying to achieve here or Are you aware that the project team relies on you and your expertise to highlight potential risks and by not doing so could increase overall costs)
  • F is for Future (Please continue to do that and be a role model for others in the team, thank you or In future, please ensure you highlight risks to the project in the following meetings)

And finally, support and coach your employees. What tools, skills and resources do they need to be able to do their job? Once they have those they can get to business and deliver. Ask them, agree what you can do to do to help them and DO IT.

So to recap, set time aside to start or continue to have great conversations, give feedback, support and trust people.

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