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Are You Getting the Best From Your Employees? Let Me Show You How to Put Together the Performance Puzzle!

Jan Springthorpe asked:

Let’s start with a few facts about managing performance:

 isn’t easy

 it doesn’t just happen by accident.

 it can be a difficult puzzle, made up of several vital pieces.

If just one piece is missing from your performance puzzle, your organisation may struggle with performance. If more than a few are missing, your organisation could be heading for trouble!

Managing people and performance is tough, complex and a major issue for some organisations. Some managers never quite get it right and the cause of most performance problems is ineffective management. In order for people to perform well, managers must be courageous, committed and capable of completing the performance puzzle.

We’ve all done puzzles haven’t we? The first thing that most people do is look at the picture on the box. Then we carefully and painstakingly sort through the pieces, keeping a watchful eye on the picture, placing them where they fit. And there’s nothing worse than getting to the end of a puzzle to find one, or more pieces are missing!

What a disappointment! What an imperfect picture.

Well guess what? Solving the Performance Puzzle is exactly the same!

Does your organisation have a clear picture of what performance looks like? Does it have all the pieces? Can your managers complete it?

Like any puzzle, the pieces themselves are all very simple. Of course people know what to do and how to do it! Of course they know what’s expected of them and have clear objectives? But do they? Ask yourself if these things are in place in your organisation. Are your managers capable of putting all of these pieces in place and completing the performance puzzle?

Let’s take a closer look at each piece of the puzzle and consider the implications if this piece is missing for you.

People don’t know what to do

Don’t assume that, just because people have a job description or have been with you for some time, they really know what they should be doing.

Employees can drift into tasks that they think are relevant to their job or that they prefer to do. It’s easy to lose sight of the exact requirements of the job or the way that business is changing. Busy managers rarely stop to check that what people are doing is still relevant.

The solution

Line managers need to take stock of how the organisation is operating, what systems and procedures are in place and what tasks are required to support the business.

Undertake regular review of the work that is being done by individuals and in teams. Replace tasks that are no longer helpful to the business with new ones that support it. Most important – keep employees informed so that they know exactly what to do!

They don’t know how to do it

Good induction, on the job training and regular review of performance are key to ensuring that people have the knowledge and skills to do their work.

Change is constant, customers demand more and technology races before us, all affecting the way we work.

Sadly, many managers fail to keep pace and people struggle with gaps in their knowledge and underdeveloped skills.

The solution

Good managers constantly assess the learning and development needs of their staff, closing gaps in performance and providing appropriate training and guidance.

Great managers coach and mentor their people to reach their full potential and achieve higher levels of performance.

All managers need to pay attention to the needs of individuals and teams and make certain that people know how to do it!

They don’t know what’s expected of them

Knowing what to do and how to do it is the cornerstone of good performance

but it doesn’t end there.

Do your people know what standards they are expected to meet? What do you want from them in terms of quantity, quality, output, behaviour, teamwork?

Many employees fall short of expectations because no-one remembers to tell them exactly what is expected of them!

The solution

Clearly describe the performance standards that people should be aiming for. Discuss these with employees, involve them in setting the standards, define how performance against the standards will be measured.

If gaps appear from time to time between actual performance and what is expected, tackle it early, constructively, positively, working towards continuous improvement in partnership with employees.

They don’t have clear objectives

We all have different skills, talents, strengths and weaknesses. Without SMART objectives that develop us as individuals, many opportunities for improved performance are lost.

Mediocre results, average achievements, unamazing performance can all be totally turned around when people work towards clear objectives. No goals, no aims, no aspirations – no chance of great performance then!

The solution

Managers can help employees to learn, grow, develop, improve and unleash their true potential through working with them to set clear objectives.

Managers as coaches really do make the difference, stretching and developing people in line with the organisation’s values and business aims.

Individuals and teams can achieve incredible results when they are coached towards clear, focused goals.

There is no shared understanding

Often, people at the front line of the organisation are vague about the strategic aims, the business priorities, the real contribution that they make.

Without a shared understanding of the business between managers and staff, senior executives and front line troops, people are kept in the dark. Those who are kept in the dark, become afraid of the dark. Lack of understanding creates confusion and mistrust.

The solution

People feel part of the business when managers share information and create understanding about what is happening, what lies ahead, what needs to change.

When employees are fully aware of the strategic plans, business priorities and how the organisation is doing they take pride in the contribution that they are making.

Good managers create clarity and build trust through shared understanding with their people.

There is no 2 way communication

People need information, confirmation and an opportunity for participation. Lack of communication leads to suspicion, anxiety and an unhealthy grapevine!

Poor communication, failing to keep people abreast of what is happening in the business or the challenges that lie ahead is a recipe for ill feeling and, inevitably, low levels of performance. If people feel excluded from the business, why should they be motivated to contribute?

The solution

Communication that flows up and down and from side to side of the organisation is the oil that keeps the business machine constantly and productively turning.

Employee views count for a lot. Who else is closest to the customer? Involving people in decision making, problem solving and having regular conversations about the business creates ownership and commitment to the organisation.

Great managers know – it’s good to talk!

People don’t get regular feedback

“How am I doing?” is one of the most common questions that people have about their work. If they don’t know how they are performing, how can they possibly do better or make changes in their behaviour?

Many managers are afraid of giving feedback, especially where there is poor performance, and avoid it at all costs. The problem is that failing to give feedback has the greatest cost of all to the organis
ation – the risk of endemic poor performance!

The solution

It’s really very simple. Managers who give feedback to their people on a regular basis get better results. When people know that they are doing a good job they tak
e pride in their work and feel that they contribute.

Poor performance can be turned around and transformed through constructive feedback and careful coaching. Managers need to work in partnership with their people to help them learn, develop new skills, improve performance and unlock the potential within.

Their work is not recognised and rewarded

For most people, beyond their monthly salary, reward and recognition for their work is rare.

How often do they get told “well done” or “fantastic result” or “thanks for a great job”? We all feel bad when our efforts go unnoticed or there is no acknowledgement of the hard work that has been done. Do your managers ever find the time to show their appreciation of the results that people achieve for the organisation?

The solution

Looking for ways to encourage, praise, give rewards and recognise good performance presses the “Want To” button for most employees. When people feel valued and appreciated they are motivated and committed to the organisation.

Managers who take time out to engage with individuals and teams, to give praise and celebrate success see real progress. Performance can be lifted to the highest level when people feel respected and well regarded for what they do.

People are not given control and responsibility

Performance is no longer a rigid process full of control and command. Sadly, many managers cannot relinquish control of the task and let go of the reigns.

People who are driven and pushed, told and marshalled may perform up to or even below contract. In order for people to perform above and beyond contract they need to be given opportunities to take responsibility for themselves and the way they do their work.

The solution

Performance should be owned by managers and employees. When people own the task and make it theirs they put in greater effort and strive to do their best.

Managers who give freedom, control empowerment and responsibility to their people create the perfect opportunity for optimum performance.

Coaching people to take full responsibility for their own performance is a key task for managers.

And finally

How many pieces do you think are missing from the performance puzzle

in your organisation? Maybe you have all the pieces but your managers lack the skills and capabilities to put them all in place? Start now to identify the missing pieces and work on the solutions.

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