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Improving Team performance

How to Conduct More Effective Performance Discussions – Focus on Mutual Benefits

Barbara Brown, PhD asked:

It’s time to sit down and talk to your employees about their performance. If your staff is similar to that of most managers, your employees perform at different levels. Some are high performers, some are average performers, and some are low performers. So you will have different discussions with different employees. 

To increase your success at motivating these employees to deliver the kind of performance you want, consider focusing on the “mutual benefits” of performance. That is, tell employees how their performance benefits them and how their performance benefits their organization. Here is what you do:

Before The Performance Discussion:

1. Know at least one professional goal each employee wants to achieve. Consider things like doing different types of work or working with different types of people. Of course, career advancement is something to be considered as well. But don’t overlook things like a desire for personal performance improvement or a desire to see improvements in how work is handled or how employees work together. If your employees continuously talk about things they would like to see improved or changed, these are their professional goals. 

This information allows you to remind employees about the “personal benefits” of good performance.

2. Know how each employee’s performance contributes to the achievement of at least one workplace goal: This goal could be for the team, workgroup, office, or department. Make sure employees are aware of the goal you select. If you have to choose a different goal for different employees, fine. You want employees to clearly understand the impact of their performance. So they have to know what you are talking about. 

This information allows you to make a direct link between individual contributions and something you AND your employees know “must” be achieved-a workplace goal.

3. Know how the one workplace goal of your team, workgroup, office, or department helps your organization fulfill its mission. If you have a specific mission for your staff or component, use that. If not, use the broader company mission. Review the purpose and other aspects. Every phrase, sentence, or paragraph may not have a direct link to the workplace goal you have chosen, but something in that mission statement will. So focus on that particular behavior or item. 

This information allows you to reinforce the value of positive performance by using something you AND your employees can embrace-the workplace mission. 

During The Performance Discussion:

1. For high performers, describe how their “continued outstanding performance” will allow them to successfully achieve their professional goal. Also connect this continued performance to the workplace goal and mission.

2. For average performers, describe how “doing a little more” will allow them to have greater success at achieving their professional goal. Additionally, link their elevated performance to the workplace goal and mission.

3. For low performers, describe how “major improvements” can lead to the achievement of their professional goal. Likewise, make the connection between improved performance and the workplace goal and mission.

Employees Want To Know HOW and WHY

If you only focus on HOW you feel during performance discussions, you limit your chances of encouraging continued or improved performance. To increase your opportunities of getting the performance you want, tell employees WHY their performance matters as well. And when you do, make sure your explanations are meaningful. They will be meaningful if you explain how employees’ performance affects the achievement of a professional goal they feel is important; a workplace goal they know is important; and a part of the workplace mission they can embrace.

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