Managing performance is one of the necessary evils of management. To get the best from your team is vital and when you lead a team, ensuring each and every one of them delivers their best work must be your primary goal.
Whilst the very thought of performance management can strike fear and dread into the hearts of many a manager, the downsides of merely paying lip-service to this essential activity are significant. Good managers see the value of leveraging the potential of their people and spend time with it, nurturing the very best results from the latent capacity of employees.
To make it much easier, a change of perception about the challenges of performance development can easily lead to new opportunities for even the best managers out there. Here are four simple tactics to adopt to make managing performance much more effective – and productive – without any need for tears.
1. Work on Relationships
Individuals generally want to be their very best in the workplace. They strive to perform well if they are given the tools – and opportunity – to do well.
Sometimes though, they need help to be at their best.
Many managers fail to appreciate the needs of their people, simply because they don’t offer themselves up to be available to their employees. This means they are not close enough to them to enable their team members to be open and honest when asking for help. In turn, not being aware of their needs means they don’t have the resources to develop and grow to deliver their best.
Relationship building needs working on and it is the responsibility of a manager to take the lead and create the space for the best relationships to evolve.
When a manager makes this effort, those on the other side of the conversation will, unsurprisingly reciprocate, and give more back to the relationship too.
2. Use as a Development Tool
Traditionally, managing performance has been a formal process that both sides find stressful and demanding. When it becomes almost a disciplinary once-a-year activity, it’s no wonder that everyone tries to avoid it.
When we flip the experience into positive mode, where individuals look forward to it, the activity is framed in a much different way. Employees begin to appreciate the potential of expanding their performance and look forward to excelling.
In ‘The Art of Possibility’, by Ben and Rosamund Zander, they extol a philosophy of giving ‘everyone an ‘A” at the start of term, asking them only to explain why they achieved it at the end of term. In this way, the pressure is off and potential is freed up.
Then, your people will be much more likely to flourish.
3. Give Ownership Away
When managers see performance management as ‘just another thing to do’ and it’s quite a challenge to be creative with it. They struggle to find the time to give full attention to their people in an experience that really rather requires the highest levels of contribution on both sides.
By swinging the concept around and letting their people own their performance, as Ben Zander suggested, new possibilities show up.
Many individuals will shine when given the tools and freedom to explore their own potential. In a safe environment where mistakes are seen as positives, people grow way beyond expectations as they explore their own possibilities.
4. Use Informal Conversations Fully
Performance and its management need not – indeed must not – be solely a formal experience. The once- or twice-a-year experience with a desk between you is not going to inspire performances that deliver the most.
When a formal arrangement is necessary within an organisational process, it will be a poor manager whose people don’t have a very clear understanding of the outcome before that discussion takes place.
By regularly and informally engaging in conversation; by listening hard withut judgement and by asking great ‘open’ questions, all make a huge difference to the more formal performance management process. By putting the work in to know people well, great managers find they are more open to help and more honest about their own development too.
This takes a little time and yet is potentially the most valuable time a manager can spend in their week.
Managers need the best performance from every one of their people. To achieve this they need to work closely with them and engage individuals as well as they can.
Performance can be managed effectively when a manager invests time to make performance management work effectively. And this requires vision and perspective to work best – for everyone – and deliver outstanding results too.