Improving Team performance

Improving Employee Performance – How to Talk so Employees Produce

Barbara Brown, PhD asked:

If you want to improve employee performance, start thinking about your daily conversations.  You discuss new projects, talk about overdue assignments, give updates about completed tasks, and so on.  Use these conversations to reinforce the importance of doing a great job.  How? Link the performance to some type of workplace result. Consider these five examples:

1. “When you submit your reports on time (improvement you want employee to make), we are able to meet our deadlines for submitting the monthly reports to the field office (result of improvement).” 

2. “Entering clients’ medical records into the database by 5:00 PM every day (improvement you want employee to make) helps us achieve our strategic goal of quickly responding to health issues (result of improvement).”

3. “When you order the janitorial supplies timely (improvement you want employee to make) that allows the maintenance employees to do their job in a timely manner (result of improvement).”

4. “If you attend the community meetings (action you want employee to take), you will have an opportunity to interact with all the senior managers in the company (result of action).”

5. “By participating in the project (action you want employee to take), you will have an opportunity to learn more about the organization’s strategic plan (result of action).”

Why does this approach work?  

The main reason this approach works is because you are able to explain the value of positive performance from different perspectives. You can talk about results that are important to employees and results that are important to the organization.  You are also able to use multiple reasons to explain why something is important or why something is not important.  So if employees react negatively to one result (i.e. impact another employee), you can use a different result (i.e. impact customer service).  That means you don’t have to say, “Do it because it’s your job!”

What type of results can you link to performance?

At the individual level, performance can be linked to things like greater autonomy, less stress, reduced workloads, or increased visibility.  These emphasize personal and professional interests. On a broader level, performance can be linked to things like organizational mission, office goals, customer service, or team performance.   These require employees to look at the larger impact of their performance.

Make your conversations matter

Talking about work is something you do everyday.  Make the most of these discussions.  Give employees a reason for doing a great job and they will produce for you.

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