(Originally published on the OUBS Blog)
1. What does the person in the job need to be effective?
2. How is the job holder performing in relation to what is required?
3. How might the job holder develop in relation to what is required?
For accessing performance standards need to be set and clarification reached:
- Terms and conditions and meeting contractual obligations
o Hours of attendance
o Adherence to rules
- Quality of work
o Standard of written work
o Appearance of finished items of work
o Acceptable error rates
- Work output and timing
o Quantity of finished items of work
o Production norms
o Deadlines and timescales
- Interpersonal behaviour and dealing with others
o Standards of behaviour with clients
o Appropriate behaving to colleagues
Objective quantitative standards may involve numerical targets, timescales and deadlines, amounts, costs and resource usage. Non-numerical need certain verifiable descriptive statement were fulfilled. Many apparently objective measures are, in reality, quite subjective.
Subjective qualitative standards are needed most times. When assessing people subjectively social influence and personal preferences can come into play. You will find assessing performance easier if, at the outset, you communicate them to people and obtain their agreement and understanding.
Methods of assessing performance:
- Observation and involvement
- Questioning and discussion
- Routine statistics and reporting
- Own statistics
- Other reports (regular, complaints or queries, exception reports)
Ask yourself weather you need extensive factual information and to increase your objectivity, the information collected should be relevant and related to an agreed standard of performance.
You then have to interpret the information and make a choice of:
- continuing without change if e.g.: disparity not serious, correction would risk making things worse, not reasons for failure found, afraid of conflict.
- Correcting performance: commit additional resources, resolve difficulties, changing procedures, training, â€¦ this might be because standards are not understood, ignored or deliberately worked against.
- Revising the standards: changed circumstances render them unrealistic, but consider weather more problems by changing them.
If you need to deal with underperformers, then Armstrong (1995) has a list:
- identify and agree on the problem
- establish the reason(s) for the shortfall. Is the problem one of support, understanding, ability, skill or attitude?
- Decide and agree on the action required: developing skills, providing more guidance
- Resource the action: coaching, training
- Monitor and provide feedback
You should also be giving and receiving feedback and working for a boss who doesnâ€™t care about staff is very demotivating. Well-designed jobs will allow for intrinsic feedback so that individuals can monitor and adjust their own performance. Feedback is not one-way: you will rarely have all the necessary information you need without discussing matters with staff.
When giving feedback, keep the following three Rs in mind:
- Right (thoughtful and logical, evidence)
- Rapid (related to current work)
It should go beyond giving praise and praise should be clarified.
The performance appraisal is very important, normally in the form of an interview scheduled once or twice a year. There are benefits for the individual (encourage, recognition, review, new measures, career aspiration, better communication), the manager (motivate staff, reinforce goals, learn more about concerns, new course of action, improving efficiency) and the organisation (succession planning, workforce planning, ensure objectives are agreed on, improve communication, improve performance)
Many negative experiences of appraisal result from the lack of preparation and both the appraiser and appraisee should receive training.
When conducting an appraisal interview some organisations choose a 360-degree appraisal, which involves getting feedback from all aspects of an individualâ€™s performance from a variety of people, including the employeeâ€™s customers in the organisation or those whom their work affects.
A few guidelines should be.
Give advance notice and possibly use an appraisal form which can then be used as the framework.
Meeting and agenda
Encourage the appraisee to talk and check your understanding and use open-ended questions.
Evaluating the appraisal
Both need to agree objectives for the period between this and the next appraisal. Many organisations find it better for all parties if appraisal is not used in connecting with staff grading and remuneration. An appraisal should be carried out by someone who is familiar with the work of the employee.
There might be some problems with appraisal interviews though, which could include that the aims and benefits are not properly understood, actions agreed are not followed through, process is hurried and little significance attached to it, relationship between parties is poor, appraisee unable to discuss issues.
The pitfalls to avoid are:
- Comparing an individual with other members of staff.
- The â€˜not like meâ€™ syndrome.
- Giving the benefit of the doubt. (never do this)
- The history of the good or bad performer.
- Demanding excessive evidence
- Crediting â€˜niceâ€™ people
When dealing with individual development needs the organisation as a whole has a responsibility to develop policies and provide resources. The manager also has part of the responsibility as you know the personâ€™s work, previous experience and aspiration. The individual has their own stake in their own future.
In many cases the manager is the role model, which means you have to take it serious or your staff will not either. And remember to mix both on the job and off the job learning.
And you need to make sure that after courses the staff has â€˜protected timeâ€™ to go over and practise what they have been taught.
You will notice development need through a mix of working together, formal and informal discussions and you should be continuously think about it as the purpose is to raise the skill level and standards within you team.
Remember that the abilities, experience and aspiration of the individual should fall nicely together with the demands and possibilities of the job as well as the prospects and future needs of the organisationâ€™s emerging priorities.
But development is not always the answer as the work might be too difficult or constant friction exists between two teams, â€¦ training and development cannot make people into something they are not.
You should also be thinking about coaching and mentoring.
Coaching is about giving them insights into new techniques or ways of working and generally helping them to understand and develop their abilities, and learn from their mistakes.
The fundamental difference with mentoring is that it should not be done by the employeeâ€™s line manager. Often older, or at least considerably more experienced people are mentoring. They assist the development, can identify the strengths and weaknesses and have the personal skills to build a relationship.
Clutterbuck (1991) suggests that there is a 4 way relationship between the Mentor, Line Manager, Protï¿½gï¿½ and the Trainer, who monitors the relationship and looks at resources for training.
Mentoring is more of a private option thing.
Remember that the balance between the needs of the individual, the job and the organisation is central to staff development.
Managing individual performance
(Originally published on the OUBS Blog)