Now, more than ever before, it is absolutely critical to get every bit of value from every investment made into a business. No investment offers a better potential return than the one we make into our employees. Unfortunately, when it comes to managing performance of those employees, most managers and businesses fail miserably. There are many reasons why, but the solution is attainable. It just takes a little preparation and a fair amount of follow-through.

Why do employees not perform?

As with most issues involving human beings, it can be complex and varied; however, there are a few factors that drive a majority of the non-performance. Most people truly want to be high performers, but find obstacles in their way, such as:

  • poor morale/tension in the workplace
  • lack of accountability
  • ineffective training
  • lack of proper skill set
  • confusion of expectations
  • tolerated laziness

The answer to every one of these factors is fairly obvious. The reality of getting started can be intimidating and difficult. I’ve broken down some manageable components to help you get going. These steps will also make it meaningful for everyone involved.

Why is performance management so difficult and what can be done to make it easier and more effective?

  1. Supervisors tend to have complete clarity about what is important, but don’t effectively share it with their direct reports. Even if the supervisor identifies what is important, there is rarely effective follow-through.

Suggestion: Share with each employee the 3-5 most important outcomes for which they are responsible and let them know from now on they will be measured against these items monthly. Now, the employee will understand what is important.

  1. Traditionally, supervisors have to track the data and do the monitoring before they can do a review.

Suggestion: Having the supervisor doing the tracking places the purpose of the tracking and the importance of the outcomes with the wrong person. Nobody should be more interested in successful performance than the employee himself. Have employees track their own data and report their progress to their supervisor. This will keep it top of mind for the employee.

  1. We tend to avoid conflict and difficult situations, so things often don’t get addressed until we are mad. At that point, it’s too late for a constructive outcome.

Suggestion: Never allow a situation to escalate to the critical stage in the first place. Monitor regularly and have discussions as a potential problem starts to emerge. Include “Red Flag Situation" as part of your regular agenda. Purposefully thinking about where there may be storm clouds on the horizon will help prevent the development of a full-blown hurricane.

  1. Supervisors “don’t have time to manage.” The problem with this logic is, if true, how will you ever find time to fix the problems and issues that will become inevitable?

Suggestion: Quit making excuses, and instead make the time. Schedule monthly meetings with your employees to review their tracking data, discuss any potential issues that either of you may see emerging and take the opportunity to connect with them one-on-one. Having a foundation of healthy communication on a routine basis will make it much easier to deal with underperforming employees and difficult situations when they arise.

What's in this for the employees themselves?

  1. Feedback - Employees want and deserve to know how they are doing. A proactive approach to employee performance is much more effective at reinforcing positive behaviors/results as well as addressing the negative.
  2. Knowledge and buy-in - They need and want to know what is happening in the company and what role their contributions play in the big picture. This is your chance to connect the organization to the individual in a meaningful way.
  3. Recognition - Catch your people doing the right thing, regularly, and recognize the effort in some public manner. An appreciated employee is much more loyal than one who doesn’t feel appreciated or doesn’t feel that their efforts are making a difference.

This type of information is good when it comes from the executive level, but it is much more impactful when it comes from the direct supervisor. After all, that is who has the greatest impact on the employee’s future. Engage with your employees in a meaningful and productive way and you’ll be amazed at how they engage with the company.

As with so many challenges, the answers can be relatively simple, it just takes a commitment, a little discipline, and a fair amount of effective communication. The return on this investment will be significant.

Photo by Kubangirl

Like this topic? Check out its companion piece: Want Better Employee Engagement? Share your Company Vision

At Q4intelligence, we work with agencies who believe in looking beyond insurance to provide real solutions to today’s most pressing business problems, including performance management and employee retention. How? By transforming the relationship between brokers and HR professionals from a single annual transaction to a powerhouse of constant teamwork, communication and results.

If you’re interested in a true employee benefits partnership that will help keep your employees healthy and happy and make your company an employer of choice, let us know and we’ll introduce you to an agency in your area. If, by chance, there isn’t one in your neighborhood, no worries! We’re full of great ideas.

5 Pillars of Employee-Related Expenses eBook