Whilst the words ‘performance management’ are enough to send shivers down the spine of many a team leader, HR manager or business owner, adopting a few straightforward techniques will give a different – and more rewarding – perspective to the whole process.
According to Debora Brockwell, co-director of the Henley Business School’s Developing Management Practice programme: ‘If you find this aspect of management particularly stressful or challenging, you’re not alone,’ says Debora, ‘and it often leads to people finding excuses to delay the process, or simply burying their heads in the ground altogether, which only makes things worse. But having a clear plan and an agreed process is crucial, and one of the most impactful parts of the programme is when participant see all the options and start implementing those that suit their circumstances best.
‘It’s also worth remembering that your employees may be even more anxious about an appraisal than you are, so by re-engineering the process, you can make it a more positive experience for all involved.
Planning and clarity are the keys
‘Performance management should be about motivation, focus and teamwork,’ says Debora, ‘and it has to be a two-way process. Once individuals understand the collective aims, and expectations are clarified, the task becomes so much easier.
‘We also use Myers Briggs, 360 feedback and other analytical tools to help you identify your own capabilities and areas to manage, as well as making you more aware of how the performance management process might impact on other team members’ personality types.
‘Working with you in a highly individual way, we make sure that there is clarity in the process, and that it is shared fully and implemented effectively. Communication is a big part of that, and so many of us think we are conveying our thoughts clearly, but the crux of the message often gets lost in translation.
‘We spend time on the programme considering how to communicate effectively and give effective, constructive feedback. It may be helpful to get someone to sense-check your communications before they go out, and ensure they carry the right tone; it could have a marked impact on their effectiveness.
‘On a recent programme, an individual from a family-run organisation recognised that they needed to write formal job descriptions and have job chats with their employees on a more regular basis. They now have an action plan to implement this. I generally recommend quarterly reviews as well as annual appraisals.
‘And if things don’t go entirely to plan, and you find yourself in a conflict situation, the session covering this topic will give you the confidence to deal with it quickly and positively.’