It’s among the most frequent questions asked by managers on our programmes: How do I get the best performance out of my employees? How do I manage performance well enough to get the best results?
It’s not that managers don’t really know the answer; the problem is often shrouded in the way the question is asked. We try to ‘manage’ performance issues, instead of ‘leading’ people to achieve the results we require.
Here are some ideas to get the best performance out of others:
Make sure that everyone knows what is expected of them.
This should include things like what tasks they should work on, the projects they need to manage, the types of tasks they should own and the observable results they should be achieving. Being very clear at this point is vital, as you must get agreement on what people will achieve.
Discuss with them how they are and are not meeting your expectations
Start discussions with ‘how do you think it’s going?’ rather than with ‘ It’s not going well, is it?’. The reason for this is you want to know how they feel about things and how they view their performances. Focus on the exchange of simple, clear and direct information, leading to a mutual clear understanding of the current position and the expectation for the future.
Remember to praise the good stuff. Make them realise that what they have accomplished is helpful on the journey to great performance. Daily discussions will often be enough to determine how things are going. You don’t need to have formal meetings that will take hours and cause anxiety.
Maximise their intrinsic motivation
Intrinsic is much more forceful than extrinsic. Establish a working environment that engenders intrinsic motivation. If it’s only extrinsic motivation (money, promotion, perks, etc) that drives your employee, you will lose the momentum and struggle to get the drive that is needed ti keep motivation going.
Elements that promote intrinsic motivation include:
*Work that is meaningful
*A feeling that they are making a difference
*Having choices and discretion over how work is carried out
*Work that encourages use of the mind and brain
*A feeling of ability and competence
Take Decisive and Proactive action when dealing with poor performance
You need to let people understand what the results will be if the performance does not improve. Being there to assist in development is a sign that you are willing to lead the employee, rather than managing them. Coaching and mentoring defines the direction you would like your employee to go. Training and development assures them that you have their long-term interests at heart, as you are investing in their and your future.
Remember, there will be occasions when you have tried everything for the employee and there isn’t much more you can do to improve things. Then it is better to bite the bullet and help them find another role, inside or outside the company. The longer you put up with carrying a passenger in the department, the longer you will be having to find excuses to your bosses, shareholders and others for the poor performance all round, and the more time you will spend on management rather than leadership.
Looking for more tips on managing your team’s performance? Try these articles:
Head of Training
Originally published: 26 September, 2012