Performance management and why people struggle with it has been playing on my mind over the last few months more than usual.
How can we empower our managers and leaders to truly embrace this and have good conversations with their people?
How can we help them get over the fear they feel in managing performance properly?

A CIPD survey in 2014 said that 87% of business feel their managers lack management skills. And I have to ask, why? What are you doing to help your people? Do you have training departments and if so, what are they doing?
If not, why are you not looking for a training company to help develop your managers’ in order to improve your business performance?

I understand that often budget constraints are tight, and training is frequently the first area to suffer, but as HR professionals we have a duty to help promote our craft and get the HR issues onto the agenda.
But how do you approach this when up skilling may not be a board priority? Or your people management systems are in place but you still have underlying performance issues?

Have courage to challenge.
Ignoring poor performance or behaviours will not help your organisation move forward. Often behaviour is overlooked, even though it is discussed as a problem, as there is a fear of challenging the individual. This may be because it has been accepted for years, the line manager is unsure how to tackle it, or they are too friendly with the individual.

Getting support from your L&D team or an external consultant can help you tackle these issues, identify the behaviours you do want, and put a plan in place to move the individuals and teams forward. Above all as HR professionals we need to raise awareness with senior managers and challenge them when they are not mindful of poor behaviour, reminding them the impact it will have on business results.

Set Expectations
Often when we ask our team members what they think is expected of them in their role, they are vague or simply don’t know. Make sure you set the expectations clearly, and consistently repeat them. This could be through a job description, expectations meeting, or quarterly goal setting. Whatever you do be clear, and get the team member to recap what they’ve heard to make sure they understand.

Review Regularly
Having regular good conversations (1 to 1 meetings), and feeding back objectively with good examples are key to changing performance. Many companies have appraisal schemes, but don’t use them effectively. They pay lip service to them with the fear of offending, often because the performance/behaviour issues have not been raised when they happen.

So sit down with your team members at least every month, praise them for what has gone well, and raise awareness of what hasn’t gone so well. Ask them to reflect on their performance and agree together what they will do to move forward. Discuss how you can support them effectively, and follow through with that support.

There are many other tools that you can use to manage performance, and we can help you decide what the best ones are for your business, and help you implement them. We can also provide you with the support and development your manager’s need to be effective within their roles. But if you do nothing else, make sure the 3 steps above are in place. They will make a difference.