Communicating for Success
Managing performance may be one of the most challenging tasks you undertake as a new manager. Generally, your abilities as a manager and the work environment influence how effective you will be with managing performance. For some, this seems to come naturally and for others, managing performance can be dreaded, uncomfortable and ineffective. You have the opportunity to set the tone and pace of employee performance.
Performance management programs vary by organization. Goal setting; feedback, review, appraisal; development; collaboration, teamwork, communication; and rewards and recognition should all be included in your organization’s performance management program. It’s important that you work within your organization’s guidelines and continue to learn to develop your performance in this area. The following offer key points to consider as you approach managing performance:
Set goals for employees after you understand your organization’s history, culture and procedures. Review employee files and understand how goal setting has been handled in the past. Understand your organization’s policies and procedures before setting goals. Unfortunately, politics can also influence how managers set goals and manage employee performance. This can be difficult to comprehend or discover but it’s important that you do—and do it as soon as possible. This can be accomplished by getting to know your employees, peers and leaders and look to identify any inconsistencies in how employees within your department have been managed.
Communicate how performance and the goal setting process will be managed. Share departmental goals with all employees as a group. By meeting with all employees as a group you give them the opportunity to ask questions and learn information together; hopefully alleviating any anxiety they may have about goal setting or how you plan to approach the process. Then meet individually with employees. Reiterate the process with employees and confirm their role within in. Explain the organization’s goals and the department’s goals and how their goals and objectives will support achieving the overall organizational goals. Give employees the opportunity to ask questions and take the time to ensure you’ve answered their questions to achieve understanding. Be clear about expectations and how frequently you plan to discuss progress with them.
Foster an environment in which employees can flourish.
Provide employees with feedback periodically throughout the year. Ensure employees have the support and resources they need to make progress and achieve goals and objectives. Offer guidance and empower them to do their jobs. This can mean letting them determine how to accomplish tasks to meet goals. Show appreciation and discuss mistakes with them offering constructive and timely feedback. Do not wait to discuss any aspect of their performance that needs corrected. If you do, the employee can lose respect for you which can negatively impact their productivity or possibly even damage the morale of your team. Be timely even with conversations that make you uncomfortable—it’s your responsibility to offer timely guidance.
Conduct performance appraisals in a timely fashion and according to your organization’s guidelines. This will be easier to do once you’ve been properly trained. Keeping good records throughout the year also helps. Ensure that you document goals and objectives and give them to employees in writing. Keep notes throughout the year to help you keep track of both positive and negative events. You should have an ongoing dialogue with employees. This can help prevent or alleviate any anxiety you may have about the performance appraisal meetings. Be sure and acknowledge positive performance with employees when it occurs and discuss poor performance as it occurs as well—do not wait until giving a performance appraisal to discuss performance that should be or needs to be acknowledged.
Encourage collaboration and teamwork. Provide opportunities for employees to exchange ideas and work together. Relationships are built upon trust. When you bring employees together you give them opportunities to get to know one another, discover shared interests and develop meaningful professional relationships.
Foster and celebrate. Foster an environment in which employees can flourish. Seek opportunities to empower them to perform individually and as part of teams. Reinforce positive performance and set the tone for the group. Recognize and reward employees consistently.
Photo by Thomas Hawk, available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license.