From your best to your worst talent - keep on track

Written by
Changeboard Team

02 Apr 2010

02 Apr 2010 • by Changeboard Team

Key performance indicators

When considering someones performance it is important to consider what outputs are expected - what needs to be achieved to get the job done? But this cant be subjective the outputs you expect may not match the perception of the person doing the job. It is human nature to have habits good and bad and the person doing the job may have had years of service and but this is how weve always done it attitude.

The answer is to ensure that you have a clear job description with KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and also to ensure that the achievement of objectives is linked to Results. At the same time, its important to consider how the performance is going to be achieved the inputs - which can be broadly categorised as knowledge & skill on one hand and attitude & behaviour on the other.

Imagine a road which suddenly forks into two on one path you have knowledge and skill and on the other you have attitude and behaviour. Every performance management issue will lie on one of these two roads so choose the right track for each individual and stay on it particularly those with whom you struggle the most. A good starting point is to rate your employees from 1-5 (1 being the worst 5 being the best) on their competency (knowledge & skill) and their commitment (attitude).

Setting great objectives

Most people have heard about SMART objectives but the term has become a bit of a management buzzword in recent years. But when applied properly it reduces get out clauses and genuinely helps people achieve goals.

So the objectives have to be:

 Specific (be clear, not ambiguous)
 Measurable (can you measure if achieving the objective?)
 Achievable (can someone really achieve this goal?) 
 Relevant (to their role / current priorities)
 Time based (when does the goal need achieving by?)

Situational leadership

Once you have agreed the objectives, you are ready to manage performance and agree with your employee how you will manage them. Its a process which we call situational leadership. Its about treating people differently while still being consistent. A situational leader manages people according to the individual situation rather than treating everyone with the same style.

 Directing: This is the most time consuming as the manager provides specific direction and closely monitors.

 Coaching: This is more about two way debate - directing and monitoring but also asking for suggestions and supporting progress.

 Supporting: Supports efforts and shares responsibility for decision making. This is more of a Im there if you need me approach.

 Delegating: Turns over responsibility for decision making and problem solving to others.

1-5 ratings system

So armed with your 1-5 ratings, you should be able to determine for each member of your team whether knowledge and skill (competency) and commitment (attitude) is high medium or low. And thinking about these ratings you should be able to determine what leadership style you will use. And be honest with your employees about their scores so that you can then agree with the individual how you will manage them, and how much support and training will be given if appropriate.

This prevents you having to spend too much time with people who are at delegating stage and forces you to give people your time when they are at directing stage.

Ongoing reviews

Obviously all this activity needs to be reviewed but it is important to think about who are your A, B and C performers and tailor the reviews to their needs. Any review process should ideally take in the following elements

 Goal setting
 Review of performance
 Behaviour / values
 Training and support

But it needs to be flexibly applied according to whether individuals are seen as A, B or C performers.

Managing over-performance

You need to identify your top 10%  and they should have a tailor made programme which links into your retention strategy. This is all about asking those employees how they want to work and identifying the things that will stop them wanting to work elsewhere.

This could be flexible hours; time off for good causes; equity; Benefits etc. You want the rest of the workforce to aspire to be in that 10% and so you have to make their programme look different.

Managing under-performance

Managing underperformance is about knowing which of the two roads you are on with each person. We have already talked about skill and knowledge on the one side and attitude on the other. What also falls into each of these areas is capability and conduct - two areas which are also permissible grounds for dismissal so sticking to this model can also help in tribunal cases.

Conduct is a conscious choice – capability is more about talent, skills and knowledge. Conduct is managed through the disciplinary procedure; capability is managed through a formal process which may involve warnings after time given to improve has failed.  Assessing conduct v capability helps you determine action you need to take and support you need to offer.