The 2 Key Components of Performance Management
Performance management is a subtle art. I believe there are two components to effective performance management. Firstly you need to ensure that you have created the right environment, then it's about the measurement of performance. As the old saying goes, what gets measured, gets done.
The new world of remote working has forced Managers to adapt in how they are managing the performance of their teams. What would have worked in the past, while in the office, has been redundant over the last 18 months.
In this blog, I would like to look at both components mentioned above, but in the context of the changing working environment and way that teams work together.
Creating the right work environment
What I mean by this is that you are proactively working to ensure that your team members are coming to their work in the best possible way to deliver performance. This is before they even complete any tasks. For this, you need to think about three key things.
Motivation - I love Dan Pink’s interpretation of what motivates people. He proposes that motivation comes from intrinsic factors. These are autonomy, mastery and purpose.
Taking these into consideration here, a Manager must make sure that they are allowing their team members to apply their skills, capabilities and make decisions, without being too constrained. This autonomy is something people enjoy and thrive on.
Are you articulating enough about what the vision of the company is and why your team members are doing what they do? Giving people a clear sense of purpose in their role is crucial to driving motivation, and therefore performance.
When considering mastery, this is enabling your team members to be the best they can be at what they do. What kind of mentoring, training and development will really help them to improve, and engage them even further?
Mindset - Do you know what is going on with your team members in terms of their state of mind? This is particularly difficult when working remotely. Finding ways to assess this is really important.
For example, if you can do a quick check in during your morning Zoom call and ask everyone to rate how they are feeling out of 5, this might give you a sense if someone is struggling on a particular day and you can try to see if there is any support you can offer.
Mental health awareness is a critical aspect of how you manage performance. If your team member is not in the right headspace to work, no amount of KPI’s or metrics will help that person perform. There needs to be a far more human and empathetic approach with that person to help them address any challenges they have.
Psychological Safety - This concept stems from the academic studies relating to what makes a high performing team. The presence of psychological safety means that every member of a team feels comfortable to speak up, admit mistakes, suggest improvements, criticise and provide feedback. This allows people to have honest conversations with each other about what is going on, and is crucial in enabling innovation and ideation.
In the context of remote working, this is especially true as trust is at the centre of performance management. If the team members feel trusted and there is psychological safety, they will speak up about issues instead of concealing them, which will allow you to address them at source. This takes away barriers to driving performance.
Measurement of employee performance
Making the assumption that you have created an environment where your team feels safe, trusted, motivated and in the headspace, then they should be in a very strong position to deliver performance in their role.
The next key component of performance management is to measure performance. It must be crystal clear what good performance looks like and indeed what excellent or poor performance looks like. Some jobs are easier to measure than others. Also there is the consideration of an individual performance versus that of the entire team.
Each situation requires a tailored approach. But here are a few golden rules that can really help get this right.
Set metrics that are achievable and measurable
It's very demotivating to have metrics that you will not have any chance of hitting. Conversely, if they are too easy, they become irrelevant also.
Getting this right is hard, and sometimes needs adjustments to get to the level that drives performance. Also, the metric has to be able to be measured easily and transparently. It should be able to be captured and logged so that it can be assessed over time.
Celebrate the wins
When your team member hits key metrics, celebrate this. Recognition is so important for people for the work they have done. Recognition can come in so many forms.
For example: It can be verbal like a simple ‘well done on hitting those metrics, that's excellent work’, or you can reward people with bonuses, food (send a lunch hamper) or an experience (bring the team out clay pigeon shooting).
Celebrating the wins is especially relevant when working remotely as it provides the opportunity to foster team spirit and further drive engagement across the team.
Review the performance over time
Metrics should be captured over time to ensure that a team member is improving, or not. This allows for analysis to identify the reasons for a trend and what changes need to be made to react to this.
The nature of the review of performance is also worth considering. When working remotely this could be over a virtual 1:1. Perhaps this is monthly or quarterly or annually. There must be careful consideration to how you address any issues with performance.
My view is that they should be addressed as quickly as possible so the feedback is at its most relevant. Also, it should be done in a way that you are addressing the route cause, rather than blaming the person. This approach should allow for a good conversation about the issues and take tangible actions to address it
So when you are considering your approach to performance management with your team, especially when team members are working remotely, please consider these two key components and what actions you, as the manager, can take to encourage the best possible performance and increase employee engagement. At the end of the day, if the team is under performing, it's generally the managers fault. So be reflective about how you are approaching it and proactive about making improvements.
If you ever want to discuss this topic with me or any other related things, please get in touch. You can find me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
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