When you make a promise to a client, are you confident your staff can – and will – keep it? Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and managing staff performance are popular management concepts. This article looks at their practical application and importance in providing a consistent quality service for your clients.
In the Future Ready III whitepaper, the Business Health authors say: ‘The results for those businesses willing to invest in their people are quite astonishing – the firms that implemented an effective performance management system deliver (on average) almost three times more profit to the business owners than those who are not yet leveraging the full potential of their team.’ How well do you leverage that potential?
Every effective performance management practice has the following:
Everyone likes to know what they are supposed to do and what outcomes they can expect for their efforts. Figures from the Business Health whitepaper show that those practices where more than half the staff had personal objectives were 76% more profitable than firms where fewer staff had individual KPIs. KPIs need to be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, given a time frame and agreed with your staff. It’s important to write them down for future reference and review.
Set expectations about consequences. What will you reward and how? For example, achieving KPIs may be worthy of one level of reward, and exceeding them will attract greater rewards. Also be clear about the consequences of poor performance.
Monitor performance and adjust expectations if necessary. Consider, for example, if adequate resources and training have been provided to enable achievement of KPIs. Having a ‘no blame’ culture will encourage staff to learn from their mistakes, rather than try to hide them.
Giving feedback is a management skill that takes practice to perfect (which is why we sometimes avoid it until it’s too late!). Here are some tips that apply to both positive and negative feedback:
- don’t avoid or delay
- provide specific examples of the performance or behaviour the feedback relates to
- be clear about consequences
- agree on any changes that need to occur
- take the opportunity to seek feedback yourself
- set a date to review performance
If you are going to provide rewards and incentives, you need to be committed and consistent. How can you be sure staff will value the rewards you offer? Simply by asking what would be of value to them and ensuring you honour their individual preferences. For example, an afternoon tea celebration and public recognition might be relished by some people, while the attention would only embarrass others.
You can use your imagination, and staff suggestions, to develop a reward program that will be motivating without breaking the bank. Whatever you do, remember that all the research indicates that the most important reward is your genuine appreciation. Saying ‘thank you’ and giving as much attention to your consistently strong performers as you do to managing poor performance can make the difference between keeping and losing your best employees.
For truly outstanding results, provide guidance and feedback on an ongoing basis. Studies have shown that feedback and rewards are quickly forgotten by employees, so they need to be applied continuously and consistently. Michael Gerber, of E-Myth fame, recommends weekly individual employee development meetings (EDMs) between staff and their managers. The EDM gives both you and your employees an opportunity to re-establish priorities and provide feedback.
Industry data, again from Business Health, shows that practices where staff performance reviews were held within six months of the survey date had profit levels 35% higher than those where performance reviews had not been conducted for more than 12 months. Regular reviews enhance performance that can be tracked to your bottom line.
One final comment on performance management: In ‘Good to Great’, Jim Collins says ‘If you need to constantly manage people and their performance, you know you’ve got the wrong people on the bus’. If you suspect this is the case, it might be time to review your recruitment and selection processes (see previous article in this series) and/or seek some external assistance.
If you have any comments, or questions, about these articles, I’d love to hear from you. Please email me or call on 1300 785 150. For more information about Balance at Work’s range of people management services, visit our website or subscribe to our newsletter for more practical tips.