Inspiring Organizational Growth
So often when I ask leaders about the most challenging part of their role.... the answer is managing employee performance. Many say they find it easier to manage people who are excited to come to work, always give a 150%, thrive to learn more, and are loyal to the company. The challenge often comes with employees who seemingly "don't want to work" , "seem to struggle", "don't get along with others", and are always causing "issues". In these cases, leaders and supervisors have to choose a more direct-coaching style of leadership, while remaining supportive and encouraging growth. The process can be exhausting and frustrating. However, there are some strategies you can implement to ensure you are holding people accountable AND encouraging change.
1- People Need to Understand What is Expected of Them
Too often organizations skip over this simple first step. While we may think people know what is expected of them, when I ask to review applicable policies and procedures, the documents are often outdated, and unclear. Take a look at yours. Do they outline WHAT people are expected to do..... and HOW to do it? When were they last reviewed? Do they encompass new processes that have been implemented or still talk about ones that are now redundant? Employees need to be able to rely on these documents as their how to manual, and as a guide if they are unsure of what to do next.
Here is a quick example to demonstrate this point.
Documentation of Daily Duties:
While policies and procedures have their place, organizations need to spend the time and effort developing clear check lists, rules and regulations, and written "to-do" lists. This will allow both parties to have clear understand what is expected, and what needs to be done to correct the behaviour. The employee also feels empowered to follow the guidelines and provide insight on how well the process works and if there is a need for additional steps or explanations. Additionally, when a manager then needs to document what performance corrections must take place, they will have a clear document to reference and highlight.
2-Take Time to "Get to Know Me"
It is very easy for supervisory staff to get caught up in the daily processes, and "forget" to check-in with employees on a routine basis. Too often the only time an employee is spoken to is to correct a behaviour, or to be reminded about tasks that need to be completed. This tends to result in a sense of mistrust and defensiveness on the employee's part. I hear employees say things like "They don't even know who I am". "They are just worried about the bottom line". "They are always criticizing what we do". This can result in a very defensive culture in which people are not prepared or willing to accept feedback. Supervisors also feel like they are in a position of constant performance monitoring, and reprimanding employees for not completing tasks.
To alleviate this from occurring, supervisors should actually schedule in time to "chat" with employees and get to know them better. These don't have to be conversations about "so tell me about your life" or "do you have pets"? Instead, focus on developing a better understanding of who they are, how they learn, parts of the job they like, hear their frustrations, and look for opportunities for growth. By doing this, you can then utilize this information during your discussions on how you can help them grow, improve in their work, and meet their needs.
Here is a quick example:
3-Create Performance Development Plans Rather Than Evaluations
An evaluation infers that you are going to do it at the end of a process- Assumingly to evaluate their performance and determine if they pass, meet standard, complete probation, qualify for a promotion, or attain a bonus.
Developing a plan infers that you are setting out guidelines, goals, and a way to improve performance. It infers that the intent is to move forward and inspire growth.
Over and over staff have told me that they DREAD performance evaluation meetings. In fact, I hear this from both employees and their supervisors. Concern stems from how the evaluation will be done, if it will be viewed as transparent and fair, and what the implications may be if someone does poorly. Human Resources and Management spend a lot of time and effort re-evaluating how to rate, score, and measure performance trying to ensure it is defendable and can withstand grievances. Unfortunately, the entire process often moves from the intended "conversation" to more of one that is process driven, time sensitive, and done for documentary purposes. It is also something that often gets delayed, forgotten, or neglected. If an employee is doing well, then supervisors often say "there is nothing to talk about" , "they are doing fine". If an employee is struggling then I hear "I am always correcting them" and "I have to check up on them everyday" so a formal process may seem unnecessary.
Neither of these processes are very effective or motivating. Instead, I am encouraging leaders to schedule time in their week to actually sit down and have a quick 15 minute discussion with each employee on:
Ultimately, approaching performance management in a pro-active way will help to improve and retain great employees. If you tackle issues head on and set up plans to enhance needed performance, everyone will understand what needs to occur LONG before you have to make a decision about probation, promotion, or bonuses. It will also make performance "management" less of a reactive and more of a pro-active process.
Carrie-Lynn Hotson is an author, HR Specialist, and owner of an HR Consulting and Training Business entitled Inspiring Organizational Growth. To learn more about her services, and business guide -Knowing Who You Lead -please visit her website Inspiring Organizational Growth.
Carrie-Lynn Hotson is the author of Knowing Who You Lead, has created a series of blog posts to generate discussion, insight and inspire transformational leadership growth.