Did you know airplanes are off route at least 90% of the time? The reason is not faulty instrumentation, but atmospheric turbulence. Their secret to flying efficiently between destinations is making continuous small corrections to the flight path.
The same principle is true for performance management. To develop peak performance and ensure it does not veer off path, managers must know the results they want to achieve, convey expectations clearly, monitor performance and provide frequent feedback.
Speaking truth takes courage
Meeting performance standards is critical for the company’s prosperity and longevity. But we can only manage performance, if we are willing to be honest with employees about whether they are meeting standards. For many, if not most of us, it is very difficult to have a frank discussion with employees when their work is not meeting standards. It takes courage to be honest in such sensitive situations.
Read on for tips that will help you better evaluate performance and share honestly with employees.
1. Set specific job standards for both WHAT and HOW
We often neglect to articulate the required performance standards for key areas of work. So how can we expect employees to perform to standard when we fail to identify those standards?
First, we must identify what is to be accomplished. That includes key job deliverables and quantity/quality requirements, i.e. productivity standards. But we should not stop there. Even more importantly, we must also identify standards for how we want employees to perform their work.
In other words, employees need to know which personal/professional competencies are most critical for successful performance in their role. Human resource professionals commonly call this a job or role profile. In the same way we identify productivity standards for deliverables, job profiles should include the desired performance level for each critical competency.
Job profiles will vary by role, e.g. Programmer versus Analyst, as well as by role complexity, e.g. Junior versus Senior Analyst. Quality job profiles may typically include competencies like teamwork, interpersonal communication, problem solving, etc., together with their desired performance level. These profiles become templates managers can use not only for performance discussions, but also selection, development, promotion, succession planning, etc.
Once we have set performance standards, we must now convey those expectations to staff. Discuss standards when employees are new to a role, if standards change, or when setting goals or discussing performance results.
Always ensure employees have a clear understanding of all performance expectations.
Measuring the quantity and quality of key technical deliverables is straightforward for most jobs. Without a quality job profile, measuring the quantity and quality of personal and professional performance can easily become subjective and challenging.
Professional competency feedback tools like the Entegrys Focus Suite will provide the means to gather objective feedback—related directly to the job profile—from colleagues, direct reports, and even clients.
4.Provide frequent feedback
Remember the airplane analogy? Without regular feedback, performance can veer off path very quickly.
The further off path it veers, the more difficult it is to have that honest discussion with employees to correct the performance trajectory. But the big obstacle to providing regular feedback for most managers is not their busy schedule but knowing how to convey feedback constructively.
This is again where quality competency assessment tools will help. They supply objective performance feedback from coworkers, managers, and direct reports. They also give you, the manager, the language you need for a clear and honest performance and development discussion with employees.
The Entegrys Focus Suite provides professional online competency feedback tools, complete with quality job profiles built right in!