Build great Teams – People management

Performance Management – Get And Stay On Track

Performance Management – Get And Stay On Track

So you’ve hired a great team, your new hires are up and running and life is good, or is it? Maybe some people in your team are capable of doing a great job, but they’re not meeting your expectations. You’re constantly going over work with them, or they never quite deliver the way you wanted, hoped or expected. It’s just about good enough to get by, so you say nothing. Do you have a performance management process to help you?

Compare performance management to building a house. First you need a strong foundation to build the house on – set SMART goals. SMART goals are the foundation that both employee and manager can refer to. They are a great place to start all performance management conversations from. Then, for your house, you build the walls, and the walls support the roof. Continual performance feedback throughout the year represents the walls that supports a formal end-of-year performance review or appraisal.

Performance Management Step One

The key to getting your team working the way you want is to set clear expectations through SMART goals. If that sounds like just one more thing to do, then ask this question. “Are you paying your team to do jobs that will help your company be successful?” Hopefully the answer is ‘Yes’. Are your team doing their jobs well enough to make your company successful? Use goals that tie the jobs you’ve employed your team to do to your business objectives. This ensures your team do what you’re paying them to do, to the required standard.

People are motivated by well-constructed SMART goals. Pro-active individuals become even more self-sufficient with SMART goals to show them exactly what you want them to do. They can visualize success, see when to ask for help and take responsibility for their own work. Giving someone a well-written SMART goal that stretched them results in a sense of achievement when the goal is met. It means your employees are continually learning, improving and becoming even greater assets to your company.

Think about tasks your team do and the impact of them not doing them on time or accurately enough? Write goals with your employees that help them exhibit the behaviours that will help drive your business forward. Explain how their achievement of the goal impacts the business to make them feel more connected to ‘Why’.

Performance Management Step Two

The start of a great performance management process is to have SMART goals that show what success looks like. All future feedback and performance conversations then relate to these goals. Set your team up to succeed!

The next step is to provide continual performance feedback. It’s important to review how your team is doing in terms of achieving their goals on an ongoing basis. If the goals support your business being successful, you have an interest in making sure your team achieve those goals. Leaving it until the end of the year to find out how it’s going won’t help you if it turns out they’re not making progress or they’ve gone off track altogether.

By checking how things are going regularly you have time to review what’s causing any problems that arise. You can help remove any blocks to them being successful. If they’re actually ahead of where you thought they’d be, you might even be able to close out a goal early and set a new one to let the business progress further, rather than just sitting back waiting for the formal completion date for the original goal to roll around.

Performance Management Step Three

It’s a good idea to draw a line in the sand once a year with a formal end-of–year review or appraisal. Even ongoing activity will have this time as the goal’s end-date. You can set new similar goals with a new end-date for the next twelve months.

End-of-year performance reviews based on well-written SMART goals have the potential to be rewarding experiences for you and your employees. People who’ve had the best experiences with end-of year reviews often reveal that it’s because the final review meeting, was just the last meeting out of a series of meetings that happened across the year. The final meeting of the year was just a summary, with no surprises. Such meetings are typically fairly short, sweet, and even if not all goals were met, everyone knew the circumstances going into the meeting so there was no need to argue about anything.

As part of an end-of-year review it’s good practice to provide each team member with a written evaluation that formally records how they’ve done. It highlights positives and it’s always great to see something complimentary in writing. It outlines areas for improvement and if you do need to start any kind of formal proceedings for poor performance, this is a step in that process that will allow you to do it legally and fairly.

The review meeting itself should be dedicated time you can spend talking to your employee about their performance outside the normal day-to-day activities.

Difficult Conversations

The above process is critical to having a well-oiled machine where you employees are working well, and doing what you’re paying them to do to ensure your business is successful. A little bit of time dedicated to performance management on a regular basis is less time consuming than having to spend a lot of time if it all goes wrong. In summary:

  • Setting SMART Goals.
  • Providing continual performance feedback.
  • Preparing for the final review.
  • Writing a good evaluation.
  • The end-of-year review meeting.
  • At any time be prepared to hold a difficult conversation, but expect them in particular in performance management conversations. Handle even a minor ‘difficult conversation’ rather than ignore it, to keep everything moving forward.

    If you do all the above steps in the order shown, and hold difficult conversations when you need to, you will use your time effectively to get your team doing what you want them to. Doing each stage properly should result in the behaviour you want. If it doesn’t, having been through these steps properly in this order will make your life easier if you do need to engage an HR professional.

    My Question To You

    Do you have a performance management process? How is it working for you? If this is something you would like to discuss or would like some help with, contact me at You can also buy my book Accelerate to Team Success which is available as a paperback or on Kindle.


    About the Author:

    Nikki Faulkner photo Dr Nikki Faulkner founded Mulberry Bush Consulting to work with business leaders and their teams to make the 'People' side of their business as effective as possible. Mulberry Bush Consulting's specialty is helping small businesses who are new to having employees and helping businesses who are growing rapidly and increasing their employee-base at a rate that is creating a significant challenge.

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