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Improving Employee Performance

As employee roles have become more complex over the years, so have the roles of their managers. The old methods of performance management that consisted of micromanaging and evaluation of skills on a 1-5 scale don’t work with today’s employee. In this course, Don Phin, speaker, trainer, coach and author, shows you how to help lead your employees to better performance.

The goals for the employee evaluation process should contain three things—to create a more trustworthy organization by helping employees enhance their skills and develop their character, to act as a tool to enhance communication and commitment between managers and workers, and to help grow the bottom line.

Great performance begins with clarity, especially in the context of the company’s mission, vision, values and strategic goals. If either the worker or the manager don’t feel clarity at the outset, an employee’s performance can veer off-track even if the worker thinks they’re doing a good job.

Phin suggests asking the employee what the most important things they do every day are and how they know that they’re doing those things well. If their answers align with how you view their role, great! If not, clarify in a discussion everything that doesn’t align. Once you have clarity on what’s important, you can set benchmarks for quality and quantity results.

As a manager, your job isn’t about how busy your workers are, but how they execute tasks and produce results. Make sure any performance improvement approach you take focuses on results and execution. When you conduct employee evaluations, have a discussion. Engaging in a dialogue about performance with your employee teaches you both to learn to speak for yourselves. You have the same goal—to improve the system so it can support workers making suggestions for improvements and generating better results. Frequent dialogue creates a safe space for open communication. It removes fear from performance reviews because they’re discussions, not reviews.

One key job you have as a manager is to enhance your employee’s desire to perform better. If your employee is disengaged, it will affect their performance and the bottom line over time. Improve their engagement by getting to know them, providing them with a stretch goal or having fun.

Before you can manage your employees, learn to manage yourself. One of the most honest ways to measure your performance as a manager is by doing a 360-degree evaluation. Get anonymous feedback from your direct reports and fellow managers or directly ask the people you manage how you can better support them.

How do you manage the worker who isn’t performing well? Ask a few questions first—is their non-performance a system failure—could their skills be used somewhere else in the company, or were they hired because no one vetted their skills properly? If so, you have to fix the system before trying to improve the employee’s performance. If it’s not a system failure—are there outside circumstances that are affecting the employee? If not, is there an accompanying attitude problem, or do you believe the employee could step up their performance? If there’s an attitude problem, they may have to be fired. If not, and you think they could improve, you could place them on a short term employee performance plan.

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