Getting the most out of your employees isn’t always easy, especially if you aren’t able to give them the pay rises or specific perks they want.
However, if you can crack the formula and keep them highly motivated, you’ll not only give your company’s productivity rates a good old kick up the backside, but you may just reduce staff retention too.
If you’re saying “yes please” in your head, you might want to check out these tried and tested top performance management tips below.
Be a coach
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to position yourself as an evaluator.
Some of the best performance reviews happen when you adopt the same approach as a successful coach.
Sure, you may think that a ‘review’ is all about assessing or judging, but in doing this it comes across like you’re not on the same team as the employee.
Understand your employees’ personal goals and start creating steps towards helping them achieve these.
You can still cover any negatives from the past week or month, but end it by coming up with a positive resolution.
Talk about performance on a regular basis
If you carry out set routine performance reviews on set dates, you’ll create an air of anxiety and unrest among your employees.
Make them slightly more sporadic and relaxed. Catch-up every week (if possible) and they’ll feel like you’re investing in them and their futures.
In Harvard Business Review’s “The Performance Management Revolution” article, it found annual reviews “hold people accountable for past behaviour at the expense of improving current performance and grooming talent for the future, both of which are critical for organisations’ long-term survival.
In contrast, regular conversations about performance and development change the focus to building the workforce your organisation needs to be competitive both today and years from now.”
Even if your business still wants to conduct annual reviews, top performance management is all about keeping the communication door open between employer and employee.
Collect colleagues’ feedback
Performance management shouldn’t rest entirely on your shoulders.
In fact, asking other employees for their own feedback on their colleagues can give you a holistic view of someone.
Think of it this way, you’re probably not going to work with each employee every single day of the week, it just isn’t proactive.
Whereas other employees have to.
Therefore, they will give you a true indication of how they mingle with the wider team, their work ethic and their performance.
Share information before reviews
When you have to conduct a performance review, don’t allow an employee to walk into it blindly, as this can create anxiety.
Remove the fear of the unknown by giving them your initial feedback and any goals you think are appropriate.
The employee will then be able to assess these and come prepared to make any adjustments or ask particular questions.
Once again, it’s all about keeping the channel of communication between both parties transparent.
Pro recruiter top tip
Saying that you’re going to conduct weekly, monthly or quarterly reviews is one thing, but actually doing it is a completely different story altogether.
Prepare each meeting long in advance so you don’t have to scramble around worrying about it on the day.
This can then form a basis for many years to come.
Although it’s vital that you take a look back at each employee’s entire record beforehand so you can get a complete picture of them and personalise the process to make them feel valued.
Focus on recent events (even the bad ones), but never forget about the bigger picture to ensure you aren’t just scrutinising them for smaller, more recent issues.
You can learn more about establishing the right fundamentals in our previous blog: ’10 Tips for Conducting a Productive Performance Review’.
Listen and be present
Whether you’re just having a 5-minute catch-up in the kitchen or are conducting a full review, the art of quality performance management is listening intently.
To do this effectively, you should:
Listen to learn
Don’t just be polite and be unengaged, come from a place of curiosity.
Ask questions and show that you’re interested in what they have to say.
You’ll learn a lot this way.
Be alert to emotions
Having emotional intelligence is where you can get to grips with both your own and others’ emotions.
Try to understand how the employee must be feeling and don’t react in a negative way if you don’t completely agree with them.
Repeat what you’ve heard
If you’re unsure on what an employee has said or you just want to reassure them that you’re present in the conversation, don’t be afraid to repeat what they’ve said to clarify.
However, this doesn’t mean you have to turn into a parrot and do it every single time they say something!
Don’t go on the defensive
If your employees are opening up to you, avoid responding in a negative and defensive way.
Calculate your thoughts, listen and approach it by challenging their opinion in a non-threatening fashion.
Be comfortable being uncomfortable
Tricky scenarios occur at work, so the quicker you get more comfortable addressing these tough conversations, the better you’ll be as a manager.
The main thing to remember with performance management is to do it on a regular basis and don’t treat it as an exercise.
Instead, it should be an open environment for employees to express their opinions and an opportunity for you to get a better understanding of their future goals.
The latter is an important tool for retaining staff in the long-run as well.
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