Many managers dread the term "Performance Management". It can be shrouded in mystery, shame or fear, whereas it is the means to ensure that the business is running smoothly and when done well, performance management can be a win/win for everyone.
If you have a performance issue to address in your team, here are some tips to get your team back on track.
Where you are addressing a performance concern, the first thing is to be consistent. Does this behaviour or concern exist elsewhere in your team? Has it been addressed previously/ How has is been approached previously? It is important that you are holding everyone accountable to the same standards. What I often see is a lot of small things building up, but the issue that the manager wants to address is a behaviour that other team members are exhibiting (e.g. starting late, poor documentation). Examine your own prejudices and assure that there is a genuine performance concern to be addressed.
To ensure you address the performance concern in a fair way, you will need to provide clear instructions, or reiterate where it already exists in policy and require all of the team to comply with this going forward. Once the requirements and expectations are clearly communicated (ideally with evidence that the whole team have received and understood this communication, for example; signing the relevant policy, or confirming attendance at their team meeting where this was discussed), you can start to address any breaches of the policy or refusal to obey instructions.
The goal of any performance management process should primarily be to support the employee to satisfactorily perform their role. When you start with this in mind, you can end up with some incredible results. After all, most of us would prefer to have a high performing empowered team member, over a demotivated employee who needs micro-managing. Having that initial informal conversation is often enough to identify what the underlying problem is so that you can work together to overcome it and to help the employee understand what the clearly defined expectations are, going forward.
As well as clearly documenting all the above steps, it is important to document the outcome. Where the outcome has been satisfactory to both parties and the process is no longer required, ensure that this is confirmed in writing. On the occasion where the poor performance continues, you will need to formalise the process, ideally with assistance from a 3rd party (e.g. another manager, or HR professional) who can act as both a witness and provide you with an objective perspective to ensure that you have followed the requirements of Natural Justice and your organisations policies and procedures.
5. Dignity and Respect
It shouldn't need to be said, but in the tension of a formalised process, don't forget that everyone who is participating deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. Whilst you may not agree with the behaviour, you can still support the person in a dignified and respectful manner.
If you need assistance with performance issues in your workplace, please contact me here.