Mastering the Art of Performance Management

We know that to make your business thrive, we need a great team. But what do you do when some employees are not team players or meeting expectations? During a pandemic, if your business can still operate, this is the time when these types of issues are exposed.

In most cases, you hired your team and saw their potential and where they could add value, so before you jump in to performance management, the right thing to do is ensure that you have enabled your team members to succeed.

Provide the support, tools and resources
At interview you are ‘selling’ the job to your candidates as much as they are endeavouring to show that they are the perfect fit for the role. If they joined your business, it is likely, they bought in to the vision, the company’s reason for existence, and how as a team you are making a difference in the world. They would be excited about the purpose of their role and how through their individual accountabilities they can contribute to the bigger picture.

Unfortunately, after the ‘sell,’ many managers forget to back up the dream and fully enable team members to grasp the ‘how to’ by providing ongoing support, tools and resources.

At the time of job offer (at the latest) your recruit should have a position description and KPIs which show alignment of their role to the vision, purpose and business goals.

From day one, reinforcing expectations is key. Be prepared with your induction process – it should be well planned and give a thorough overview of the company, the team and the role expectations.

The induction process doesn’t just stop at the end of the first week. Best practice is to have 30, 60 and 80 day checks – enabling managers to continually monitor team members in regard to how they are adapting to the business and meeting the expectations of their role. Use the position description and traffic light it at each check-up – green/all is well; amber/improvements and development are needed; red/errors and concerns. The reds should be ‘flags’ in trial and probationary periods.

Setting expectations gives you a framework from which to determine if someone is on track or falling behind in terms of performance. Performance issues are generally not a surprise if you have regular check ins with your team. Ideally these check ins are an opportunity to address concerns and determine what development is needed to achieve optimal performance.

What does poor performance look like?

Determining the cause for performance issues
Understanding what the root cause is of poor performance can help you determine how to fill the performance gap.

• Capability: do they have the skills, knowledge, experience and ability to do what is required?
• Capacity: do they have the time to deliver or are they overloaded?
• Contributing factors: personal factors such as illness, life, relationships, workload, support, work culture and environment

With these insights, you also wear the hat of a coach, helping to unlock the potential of your team members, enabling them to maximise their performance.

The performance management process
Performance reviews should begin informally, documenting everything as you go along. Introducing an effective performance improvement plan (PIP) focuses on the concerns, the expectations, support needed and required actions. PIPs give real insight into the root cause of the performance concern and can turn an employee’s performance around; or, highlight to you as the manager that even with support, unfortunately, the employee is unable to meet expectations of the role and the business. This being the reality, the next step is formal performance management.

The formal performance management process is detailed and specific in order to protect both the employer and employee. It requires rigor, good faith and an expectation to work within NZ employment legislation.

We recommend you speak with an employment relation advisor if it comes to that to ensure you get the process right.

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