Managing Performance

Managing performance is not something that is confined to a situation when one of your team is not doing as well as you’d like them to do (when as a term it is often management speak for “disciplining”), nor is it something confined to the annual performance review meeting. Managing performance should be a daily activity for everyone in a supervisory position and involves a series of activities that encourage, support and provide opportunities for your people to give superior performance.

So what are these daily activities of positive performance management? Well they can be summed up in 6 key points as follows:

1. Set clear performance and behavioural objectives.
Without a clear understanding of what is expected, your people may work hard but still not achieve the results you want. Use the acronym SMART, which stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely, to help you set better performance objectives.

2. Provide appropriate support.
Ensure your direct reports have the support they need to achieve the SMART objectives you set them. Support comes in many forms. There is tangible support, such as providing people with the right tools to do the job, and there is intangible support - such as simply listening to what people are telling you.

3. Give feedback.
Praise works wonders for achieving good results, but it needs to be given in a timely manner. All feedback works best when it is regular, specific and focused on helping the other person improve.

4. Address under-performance promptly
Confrontational counseling is about having an informal one-to-one meeting with your under-performer at an early stage to identify and resolve the problems, in effect “nipping it in the bud”. Most managers shy away from such counseling as they dislike potential conflict situations. Assertiveness skills are required to do this well.

5. Provide training and coaching.
Regular training and re-training of people are now considered essential for business success. Backed with effective one-to-one coaching by their line manager, individuals who have the opportunity to continually develop their skills and knowledge perform far better than those who do not.

6. Provide developmental opportunities through delegation.
Even when promotion is not possible, effective delegation can provide opportunities for people to learn new things, develop valuable skills and so become highly motivated. Managers can find letting go hard, but it is essential if high performance is to be achieved.

Can your line managers and supervisors do all of these 6 things well?