Any time an organization carries out a performance review, the participants must be ranked. Just like in the recently concluded IAAF championships, there will be excellent performers, good performers, average performers and poor performers in any organization. It is easy focus on the excellent and good performers. The alternative demands a critical examination of the underlying causes behind the poor performance. Quite often, the poor and average performers need assistance in order to boost their performance. This could be in form of mentorship or training.
There is no shortage of literature on how to mentor employees or how to improve staff performance. Most managers fail in their efforts to improve staff performance as a result of having misguided intentions. Improving staff performance is not just about healthy profits and accolades for the team leader. It is about doing the difficult, messy work of understanding the employees, their motivations and the organization’s role in their performance.
Once the stage has been set, managers can embark on a journey towards improving staff performance in three easy steps:
Engage the employees
Research has provided sufficient evidence to support the need for employee engagement. Employees are likely to perform better when they report to managers who understand what they do and provide them with opportunities to do what they do best. Managers need to understand their talent pool and work towards managing the talent effectively. For instance, an accountant might be struggling with his job because his natural talents dictate that he should be a salesperson. The identification of talent mismatch goes a long way in enhancing employee engagement which ultimately improves staff performance.
Praise publicly, critique privately
Kenyan athletes were recently feted for their sterling performance in Beijing. The Deputy President expressed his pride and joy as he hosted the team at his private residence. The Kenyan team may have placed Kenya on top of the world but this does not mean that all the athletes got a medal. Some of them performed poorly, contrary to the expectations of their coaches and their country. Criticizing the athletes who did not perform well in public would be a miscalculation. Praising the team, on the other hand, boosts the confidence of all the athletes. Tactful managers praise publicly and critique privately. Critiquing privately provides the employee with an opportunity to confront his or her failure without the fear of shame or ridicule. Once this has been done, the path towards a better performance can be charted.
Be a resource to your team
Are you an approachable manager? Can your employees ask for your assistance? There was a time when management was all about hiding in the corner office, barking orders and spreading fear. Those days are long gone. It would be a shame to drag management back to those days in the current knowledge-based work environment. A manager’s job begins with managing his character: his words, his time and his relationships at work. A healthy working relationship between a manager and his employees fortifies the bonds of the team and promotes seamless communication. Attaining the organization’s vision in such an environment is much easier since the employees see themselves as a pivotal part of the organization’s vision.
What are you doing to improve your organization’s performance?