16th August 2012
Ever thought that you are not really getting the best from your team?
Ever wondered how you could improve the performance of your business by improving the performance of your staff?
Here are some some practical ways of managing and improving performance.
What are my staff doing?
Look in detail at what your staff spend their time doing and ask the following questions:
- Does everyone know exactly what is expected from them? Do jobs overlap? In order to avoid confusion, try drawing up or re-defining your job descriptions.
- Consider how time is used in order for staff to utilise their time more effectively.
- Are reporting lines clearly defined? Do the objectives set reflect the business requirements? If not, ensure that you discuss and agree these important areas.
- How are tasks allocated? The reason why one person does a particular job is often historic. You may wish to re-allocate duties according to people’s strengths, or to provide development opportunities.
Understand your teams core processes
Effective use of time is critical to any business. Spending more time to added value tasks which build the business will be beneficial. To help with this, review your processes. Involve your team in this exercise, which may seem a little time consuming in itself, but can save far more time in the long run.
- Look at your key processes eg developing a new product, paying an invoice, processing payroll, finding a new customer.
- Break this down into the individual steps that make up the process eg passing a payment request for authorisation.
- Against each step, list the communication who are currently involved.
- Stand back and review your current process, asking:
Could this process be improved?
Could we improve efficiency by cutting down the number of steps?
How could we speed up the process?
Why is each person involved? Do they add value to the process?
- Agree and implement changes.
- Decide how you are going to best utilise the time and resource saved by the process review
Know your team as individuals
Any team is made up of a number of individuals; each with their own set of strengths and areas for improvement. You need to assess each individual and provide the right level of direction, support and development to get the best from them. The performance review meeting can be a good vehicle for gathering and discussing some of this information.
Develop high performers
High performers are motivated by a need to achieve. Therefore you need to:
- Set them realistic but achievable goals / objectives with a degree of ‘stretch’.
- Ensure that you allow them a degree of autonomy and don’t micro-manage.
- Allow them situations in which they can largely influence the outcome and the means of getting there.
- Ensure that they know when they have done a good job. Accomplishment itself is a big reward for high performers.
- Allow them to get ahead by their own efforts.
- Involve them in new things – stretch the parameters of their role.
- Allow them to take some risks. This can be difficult and requires a high level of trust, but excellence is usually obtained only with a mistake or two along the way.
Re-align poor performers
Equally important is the way in which you manage the members of your team who perform less well. Firstly, you need to establish the reasons for poor performance:
- Is what you are asking your staff to do realistic?
- Do they receive feedback on their performance?
- Are they demotivated? If so, why? Perhaps they feel unappreciated, uninvolved, under utilised?
- Are there circumstances outside the job which are affecting performance?
- Is the job changing?
- Do they know what to do? Have they been shown? Do they require support?
The key to improving poor performance is often communication.
Ensure that you:
- Provide timely, specific and constructive feedback to the employee.
- Establish why the shortfall in performance exists.
- Discuss and agree what support, development and assistance is required to help the employee improve his/her performance.
- Encourage the employee by providing positive feedback on their performance when it is due.
Frequent and effective communication and coaching will usually ensure that performance does not become an issue, however, persistent shortfalls in performance may require formal disciplinary process being invoked.
By taking time out to quantify the information and guidance above, you’ll be able to really maximise employee investment and in return nurture a high performing team, have reduced turnover and increased productivity.
That’s a real return on investment!
Scott Maddy MCIPD