Tips for Managing Employee Performance

Published February 26, 2020 (last updated July 22, 2020) Author: Nicholas Hartman

As a business owner, it’s vital that you feel confident in delegating out tasks and roles to your employees to fulfil on your behalf. Assessing the performance of your employees can assist you in understanding how you can support your team to work in the best way possible for the success of your business.

To get the most out of your employees requires an understanding of how they are currently performing, the benchmarks you wish to achieve, and strategies to reach them. A consistent and effective approach to reviewing employees’ performance is good first step to improve employee performance.

A soccer coach once described managing a team as “like trying to build an aircraft while it is flying,” so let’s make the ongoing and often complex process simpler and take the guesswork out of how to manage your employees’ performance.

Strategies for managing performance

You can boost your workplace productivity, morale, and employee retention by making your performance strategies relevant to your workplace, circumstance, and each employee.

Regular Reviews

Discuss your employee’s performance in reference to the standards that have been established by the company. Provide specific and actionable feedback in regards to the areas that they can improve. An insider’s tip is to conduct reviews more frequently, rather than just annually.

Employsure, for instance, conducts its employee reviews quarterly.

You might find that you get a more consistent outcome as you are able to remind employees of their expectations, potentially resolve underperformance issues as they arise, as well as finding an opportunity to provide constructive and positive feedback that might serve to enhance employee motivation.

360 Feedback

Receiving feedback from multiple sources can be highly beneficial for your employees. Rather than brushing it off as just one manager’s point of view, the feedback might be taken much more seriously if it is coming from different sources.

You might find it useful to consider:

• Creating anonymous surveys where co-workers give feedback.
• If customers deal with specific employees, then you could create a way for customers to offer their feedback about those interactions.
• Consider setting meetings with yourself, as well as separate meetings for other managers/supervisors to give feedback.

Management by Objectives

Performance objectives could be tailored to the individual, for example, if their speed of work is causing ineffectiveness, their specific action plan will be based on hitting their deadlines. Compare this to an employee who is down on sales. Their action plan might be about hitting certain numbers in sales.

Collaborate with your employees about:

• vital company objectives
• how to create measurable outcomes for each one
• potential rewards for achieving the outcomes
• ways that you’ll support growth and opportunities to enhance performance (rather than just deal with poor performance).

Managing Underperformance

Managing a decline in employee performance might require a formal performance management process. This process will usually involve a meeting to be arranged and a conversation to be had. Below are some tips on how to handle the hard conversations with your employees when discussing underperformance.

Handle the ‘hard’ conversations

First and foremost, consider trying to go in without the expectation that the conversations will be hard. Remember, the reason you are assessing the performance is to keep track of your employees’ performance and to ensure that your employees understand your expectations of them, and that the assessment also offers the opportunity for the employee to raise any issues.

When you need to address an issue, the following tips are going to prepare you to have these conversations.

1. Set a meeting

Rather than reacting to an issue instantly, take time to think through the best way to deal with it. Emotions may be running high and it could make it harder to find clarity in your conversation if you are too forward. Take time to think through the issue on your own and then reach out to set a meeting time with the employee that gives them time to decompress after any incident/problem, best practice is to give 24 hours’ notice.

2. Go into detail

Consider whether it would be beneficial to being more specific when you offer feedback. Discuss the scenario in-depth so that you are being transparent with them about what the issue might be, and why it is an issue so that they have a complete understanding of why this needs to be adjusted and worked on.

3.  Balance feedback

Begin with a positive note to allow the employee to relax into the conversation. Even providing examples from your past about when you have made a mistake in your career is a great way to break the ice.

4. Use the B.I.G Theory

Behaviour, Impact, Get Agreement. Begin with discussing the behaviour that you are meeting about. Explain the impact that this has on the workplace and their work in general. Then talk about the impact that a change in behaviour will create. Lastly, get a clear agreement on how you can move forward – the action plan.

5. Respect privacy

Don’t speak about the issue in public areas where other colleagues will overhear. This may lower staff morale in general, creating issues within the team. Respect the employees’ privacy by setting up a space to meet that you will not be disturbed, as well as keeping what is said confidential after the meeting.

6. Ask for feedback in return

This shows that you are on the same team. A simple question ‘what could I do on my end to better support you?’ can do wonders for how this feedback is being received in the meeting.

This gives the employee a sense of empowerment because you are treating them with the respect that they deserve and as a person with a valuable point of view.

7. Document and Review

After a performance management meeting the conversation and agreed outcomes should be documented. This might take the form of a performance management plan, which will include an outline of the performance issues, strategies for improvement and deadlines for the goals to be achieved.

Documentation should not be the end of the process however and you should ensure the employees performance and goals are continually reviewed, and feedback is provided.

Shift the perspective

Rather than thinking of your role in performance reviews as an ‘evaluator’, shift the mindset of your role to that of a coach. This will change the perspective of the employee from feeling like they are on trial to feeling like they are on the same team, being supported to improve. This enhances trust, connection, and overall morale with your staff.

Performance matters don’t have to be a ‘sensitive’ topic. Performance conversations are simply a way to communicate any underperformance, increase productivity, motivation, and ultimately how both parties can work better together to grow the business. When the business thrives, the follow-on effect is a more thriving workplace for employees to be part of.

However, there can be times when an employee’s performance starts to have a significant impact on the business. In these circumstances formal performance management may be necessary.

Employsure is one of the largest provider of employment relations and workplace health and safety advice in Australia – servicing over 25,000 clients throughout Australia and New Zealand.

We offer documentation, unlimited advice, policy and procedure review and for small business owners. Being an Employsure client means no surprises – we keep our clients updated on Award changes, wage updates, and other changes.

If you need any assistance with managing employee performance or with workplace relations, feel free to contact Employsure on 1300 207 182 and we can give you free, initial advice.

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