Top Tips to Manage Performance
Top Tips to Manage Performance
One of the most recurring challenges for managers is how to manage performance, in particular, under-performance or poor performance, whilst still trying to maintain productivity and engagement, both from the team member concerned and their colleagues. Having the difficult conversations and delivering constructive feedback are often not relished by many managers, but these are key skills to maintain overall performance and morale. Issues of under-performance, poor performance, or conflict between team members, tend to deteriorate when left to ‘fester’ and can end up escalating, even in to legal cases.
Years ago, a manager would simply ‘manage’ their team, watching when they clocked in and out of work, and how much work they produced during the day, often in terms of physical outputs or volumes of paperwork. Nowadays, in the complex work environment, with an increase in remote working, flexible working, virtual or global teams, and matrix management, it is not always easy for a line manager to have regular 1:1s with their direct reports. However, it is important that they do, preferably meeting face to face where possible, or utilizing video conference as opposed to telephone calls, in order to be able to see ‘the whites of the eyes’ of team members to be able to understand and gauge how they are really feeling.
Once a lack of engagement, under-performance, or poor performance has been identified in 1:1s, or by receiving feedback from peers or colleagues, it is important to address it swiftly by actively listening and asking relevant open questions, whilst maintaining the balance of caring about the employee’s well-being, but not prying in to their personal circumstances. It helps to examine what motivates and annoys team members, which can be a challenge for a manager who is new to the role or team, or even to Management.
Working with an Executive Coach who is a qualified Assessor can also help to identify personality types by using Personality Questionnaires, such as the Strength Deployment Indicator. This identifies motivators, values and how individuals behave in conflict situations, due to their overdone strengths, which helps to pinpoint how managers and different personality types within teams can flex their styles according to their colleagues. 360 Feedback Reviews are also very beneficial in establishing any key issues and development areas, which can be addressed in Performance Coaching or Management Training Programmes.
If the organization has a clearly communicated vision, mission statement and strategy, team members should be aware of these and how their own key objectives, projects, and work tasks align with them, in order to ensure they feel motivated and understand how their role contributes to the company’s success. A Competency and Behavioural Framework is also key to underpinning all selection, onboarding, training, performance management and retention.
According to Gallup, when managers don't hold employees accountable for performance, about seven in 10 employees (69%) are actively disengaged, with only 3% being fully engaged. Performance can be managed effectively if the Line Manager regularly carries out the following activities:
- holds regular informal and formal 1:1s
- knows what the direct report is working on, especially when project work in other functions is involved
- walks the floor
- holds regular Career Conversations
- delivers timely constructive feedback
- gives positive reinforcement to increase discretionary effort and ensure team members feel valued
- documents any issues
- addresses issues swiftly
- gives clear KPIs with regular progress reports
- empowers individuals by delegating interesting and challenging work
- completes any in-house appraisal or performance review processes
- uses a Coaching style of Management to develop the team member
- ensures the team member has a realistic PDP
- asks HR for support if a situation starts to become difficult
At Natural Talent many of our Management Training Programmes on Performance Management and Feedback Skills are aimed at managers who are new to a Line Management role, or who are finding it a challenge to manage under-performing or disruptive team members. They practise highly effective tools and techniques on real-life scenarios, and feedbackhas been very positive:
‘This was by far the best exercise I’ve ever done on a Training course – you must include it in all your Training days! To actually practise on real-life scenarios in a safe and supportive environment, and explore the options for dealing with poor and unacceptable performance, whilst receiving on the spot constructive feedback, is invaluable. Thank you!’ Head of IT
Managing Performance takes time and effort, but done well it can lead to high performing teams, greater levels of engagement, morale, productivity and efficiency, and an improved company culture.
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