Leadership is about creating clarity. Managing employee performance is a key to increased performance. According to the Corporate Leadership Council (CLC) 5 Imperatives for Managing Employee Work and Performance – up to a 36% impact on performance occurs when employees have a clear understanding for the standards by which they are evaluated.
Managers and leaders will increase employee performance by doing these steps:
1. Having regular formal and informal conversations about performance standards.
These conversations allow employees to understand expectations and requirements to do the job effectively. An often approach for managers might be more "hands-off" with the hope of allowing your employees to do it on their own. While no one likes a micro-manager, you do need to be involved.
Tip: Schedule regular (every other week or monthly) one-to-ones to talk about performance. When you schedule time with your team members you also demonstrate "you matter" – something that also creates an emotional commitment to you, the work and the organization.
2. Create behavior anchors.
Identify 2 – 3 core competencies for a position or role on your team. Begin to define specific behaviors or actions that are needed for this competency. Create a 3-tier scale: Successfully Meets Expectations, Exceeds Expectations, and Does Not Fully Meet – I suggest you start writing them in this order as well. It allows you as the manager to clearly define expectations so that your team knows when they have met or exceeded your expectations for this competency. It also provides for a discussion on how employees might enhance their performance when what they are doing does not fully meet your expectations.
Tip: Take a first pass at defining this. You are the leader and your team needs you to be laying out the path for expectations. Then, involve individuals on the team to enhance your ideas. Have them contribute to building out specific actions and behaviors for each tier of the scale.
3. Define HOW the job gets done.
Managing performance can be tricky when you focus on only WHAT gets down. It's also challenging to have performance-based conversations with employees who get the job done – but create a wake of disruption along the way. When coaching leadership I often hear "but they get there work done." And then I ask, "is it okay that they are a jerk as they do it?" No. Right? Including more attitudinal or interpersonal skills on HOW the work gets done can help you avoid some of these interpersonal disruptions that contaminate the team.
Tip: The interpersonal conflicts that arise from employee behavior – how the work gets done – don't self-correct. They get worse over time. Decide how you can define key behaviors that contribute to how the work gets done. Make it clear by using the first 2 steps in this article on managing employee performance.