Effective management of performance is naturally difficult as requires the manager to confront and this is something that is outside our normal comfort zone. It is made more so in indigenous organisations where people are often related and try to influence through their relationships with other members of staff.
Walk the Talk
If you don’t model what it means to attend and be productive, be respectful and courteous and treat people with care and sensitivity, then you just cannot expect people to do what you don’t.
Chris’ Four Golden Rules for Performance Management
3. Never make it personal
Performance management needs to be an ongoing dialogue. If you are not having a regular discussion with your direct reports, then you are not being an effective manager. Immediacy means that you can never let things slide as, when you do this, the thing you want to correct simply persists and other people will see that you have let something that should have been dealt with remain unaddressed. It can even result in the perception that the person’s work performance is acceptable.
Moreover, when you do get around to addressing it, perhaps during the performance management discussion, the employee becomes defensive “why didn’t you tell me earlier?” When someone does this and it is legitimate, it puts you on the back foot when the discussion is supposed to be about them.
The required correction is much more likely to happen when you address it shortly after it occurs as your attention to the issue becomes associated with what they did and when it happened. That said, you need the right time and place. See Timing.
The employment contract is fairly simple. Human beings just make it complex. Employees should have in their minds something like this:
“We have hired you because you have the skills, knowledge and experience that we value and we need people to do things which contribute towards our goals and objectives. In return for turning up and doing this, we pay you a good salary to use your abilities and expending effort and skill in a role which we have clearly defined and you have accepted.”
Sound about right? This is the psychological, often unsaid and unwritten, contract. With this go a whole lot of expectations and these are the things that need to be crystal clear, written down, understood and accepted by the employee – a binding contract which covers, for example:
a. a code of conduct;
b. values and our culture;
c. specific duties for each person;
d. specific objectives and goals and the timeframe for their achievement;
e. how we will operate in a team; and
f. how we will work with clients and stakeholders.
These expectations need to be written and tailored for everyone, understood by the employee and they have need to agree and accept them. Taken together, they clearly set out what each employee is required to do and how they should behave to each other and to clients. The whole package defines success and if it is ill-defined you are much less likely to be a successful organisation.
Never Make it Personal
This is always about work and should never be about them as a person. The issue is about whether they are meeting the expectations that you have of them and which they have agreed to. It should never be personal as you want to improve a person’s:
a. Performance in completing tasks or their duties;
b. Behaviour toward others; and/or
c. Their attendance – turning up and being ready to earn (ie deserve) their salary. This is why we call them earnings.
A performance discussion should never seek to change a person’s personality or appearance, unless this is an issue which affects their work performance.
· Be calm, never react or raise your voice;
· Expect denial and anger. Wait until they are calm;
· Use your ears, there is a reason you have two of them and one mouth. They are twice as important; and
· Use active listening, reflecting back on what the person has said to encourage them to say more.
Remember, you want to get to the underlying issues and work with the employee to:
· Define what the job requires and what the employee is doing wrong when viewed against the employment contract they have agreed and accepted;
· Accept that they need to improve; and
· Agree to the changes they need to make to meet the required standards of performance;
Timing Time and place are very important. Factoring in immediacy, you need to choose your moment. You need to be prepared and you need to avoid shame and, where possible, that you have even had the conversation. Sometimes this is necessary, for example, when the issue has not been corrected and you want to use shame and the team dynamic. But calling out “Hey you. In my office now!” simply doesn’t work in a modern workplace. Most effective discussions are done over coffee or in an office or meeting space if you don’t have one. It’s also better not to sit at your desk, to use more of your referent power than your coercive or legitimate powers.
NEVER BE AFRAID TO WARN THE EMPLOYEE OF THE CONSEQUENCES IF THE PERFORMANCE REMAINS UNCORRECTED.