5 Critical Aspects of Performance Management for New Managers

Posted on: September 22, 2020, by :
performance management

Proactive Performance Management

When I started in management, I was focused on ensuring my team understood goals and expectations. Equally important, was knowing that each team member had access to the training they needed to do their jobs well. By the time I left that organization five years later, I was addicted to proactive performance management. Since then, I continued to hone my skills and help others develop. The more I helped others, the more I realized—if I can help others grow, I have made a important contribution. 

Helping others comes naturally for some. Over time, we realize one of the most significant things we can do is help others. That’s why I love lifelong learning. It helps position us with the skillset and mindset to realize challenging goals.

When we recognize the limits imposed by lack of development, we can proactively seek learning opportunities. As a new manager, you’ll need to consider the following five critical aspects of performance management to help others learn and realize goals.

Communicate goals and expectations.

Give your team the information they need to understand what’s expected of them. This may involve your investing extra time to communicate with them as a group and with each team member individually. Instead of hurrying through this task, invest the time to ensure each team member understands the team’s goals and their individual goals.

Stephen Covey said that, “We are the creative force of our life, and through our own decisions rather than our conditions, if we carefully learn to do certain things, we can accomplish those goals.” This indicates the need for managers to give employees the information they need so they can make the decisions to realize goals.

Managers need to communicate goals and expectations clearly and in a timely manner so employees understand what’s expected of them and what resources are available to support their efforts.

Ensure employees have the training they need to do their jobs well.

I have often said that employees cannot be expected to meet or exceed expectations without guidance and preparation. To increase the likelihood that employees will actually accomplish their goals, you need to understand their strengths and challenges and give them the opportunity to improve in the areas that may hamper their performance. Preparation enables progress. Give them the training they need to do their jobs well.

Use coaching to keep employees motivated and on track.

Through coaching, employees are empowered to make decisions and change behaviors that result in immediate impact. Managers help by encouraging employees to take ownership of goals and create the habits that are aligned with their objectives. Through questions and frequent two-way communication, new levels of awareness can result. Managers use coaching to help employees understand how best to leverage their strengths while overcoming obstacles. They offer support and guidance to keep employees motivated and on track.

Communicate proactively and effectively.

For employees to achieve goals, you must communicate effectively. Some new managers don’t invest enough time or energy into getting this right. That’s a big mistake. Usually one that hurts performance and morale. Knowing how to communicate proactively will enable your team to make progress toward achieving goals. 

I’ll share an example. Several years ago, I learned of a manager who was tasked with rallying support for a new stretch goal the team was responsible for achieving. Instead of simply focusing on the implementation of the new machinery, management needed to gain support from the employees who would actually use the machines. In this case, not only did the new machinery require learning how the machines functioned, it also required the adoption of new processes and policies to support their implementation. Production, customer satisfaction, and a return on the investment were all at stake.

Management succeeded in gaining employee support because they communicated not only how the new machines would be used, but also why the new machines and supporting processes were necessary. They communicated in advance of the installation of the machines, giving employees the opportunity to ask clarifying questions and understand why the installation of the new machines was necessary.

Recognize effort and progress.

Employees need to know that their efforts are important. When their work is recognized, they know their work is valued by others. This in turn, has a positive impact on future performance and morale. Managers miss opportunities when they only acknowledge success. Failure is just as important. We learn from our mistakes and use that learning to make better decisions in the future.

Failure can be painful but it can also be extremely valuable. When we fail, we realize that we have options and new opportunities. Our failures help us grow personally and professionally. We feel the pain of failure in the short-term even though we may benefit greatly from it in the longer term. When we fail, we get feedback and the feedback helps us learn and grow. Then we iterate, we make changes, and try again. If we fail again, we learn more and begin the process anew. Our learning and confidence grow throughout the process.

Now that you understand the five critical aspects of performance management, you can help your team embrace challenging goals.

Effectively managing performance is a skill. Your team can either sink or swim depending upon how well you guide and support them. As you develop your skills, be deliberate about your learning. Challenge yourself to develop both the skillset and mindset to manage with confidence. Being a new manager can be difficult. Failing to grow and properly support your team can be even harder.

performance management