When I was studying economics at uni, I remember that my lecturer told us a really geeky joke. He said “in the long run we are all dead”, we all thought it was hysterically funny but 99.99% of the population would think us mad and have no idea what that meant.
In that vein, I want to share a geeky HR tool that I absolutely love. Before you stop reading, I want you to know that I know that most of you aren’t HR people. So, I’ve removed the jargon and the dumb in jokesto show you what I rely on to get staff performance at high levels and that makes dealing with underperformance super easy.
It’s called performance planning and below I have outlined a step by step process, so you can use my performance planning tool to benefit your management of staff.
Performance plans are awesome at placing responsibility on the staff member to do the job you want them to do, in the way you want it done.
My performance plans are based on ensuring there is absolute clarity, upfront, about what the employee is required to do (tasks and skills) and how they need to go about doing it (behaviours and cultural fit). I like to talk about it as defining the leaders measures of success for the role.
Where most leaders go wrong is that they assume that staff know how to do a good job for them and get disappointed when things don’t work out that way. Or the only performance discussion they have with staff is when things aren’t going well. All this does is create more management work for you, who has time for that!
There are 4 steps to creating my style of performance plans: identifying the main functions of the role, identifying the specific tasks and responsibilities for the next 6 months and then defining the measures of success and then get your employee aligned with the plan.
Step 1 Identifying the main functions and weight them
As you think about an employee’s role, think about the main functions that the employee will perform in your organisation.
Examples of functions are: Admin or General or Business Development, or Leadership. You can use your position descriptions as a guide. Most roles will have 4 or 5 main functions.
Once you have the main functions, assign a percentage of time and effort against them. For example, Admin might be worth 10% and Business Development 60% etc. This helps your staff to understand your priorities and manage their effort better.
Step 2 Identifying the main task and responsibilities
For each main function write down the main tasks or responsibilities for the next 6 months, the clearer you are, the better the performance you’ll get.
By way of an example for the Admin functions you might put answer phones, respond to client enquires and cover for other admin staff when on leave as main tasks.
Aim for no more than 5 tasks or responsibilities. Clarity is king here. Remember you’ll be reviewing this regularly and you can add or subtract items as you go along.
Step 3 Create measures of success
One you’ve done that, create some measures of success for each task or responsibility. This will tell the employee exactly how you will know if they have been successful.
This step will enable the employee to fit in better with your unique expectations, help them self-manage and help you to quickly identify gaps in performance.
Examples of measures of success are:
- Being courteous and helpful – use can do language
· Show professional judgement in communication
· Demonstrated desire to learn and progress
- Identify the best way to record and update manuals
· Complete professional training course
· Can correctly prepare and send quotes
You can add a by when column to your list to help staff understand how long they have to complete a task or if something is an ongoing expectation.
Step 4 Discuss the performance plan with your employee and monitor for alignment. Try it and you might just like them as much as I do.
I guarantee you that well-constructed performance plans will save you and enormous amount of time and effort in managing your staff. Your staff will also lift their game.
No more confusion about whether the employee understood what you wanted or being worried about raising issues when the standards aren’t met. It’s all there, upfront in meaningful black and white.
The other payoff is that staff want fairness and clarity, they want to know how to be successful in your organisation. Performance plans tick all of those boxes.
A few people have asked me to put on a practical workshop, specifically on writing performance plans. The idea being I’ll show you the ropes of performance plans and be with you as you create performance plans for your team, there and then.
If this sounds good to you. Shoot me an email and if the interest is there, I’ll put something together.
Also, as reminder my new online course The Lemonade Cure is starting in 2 weeks. It’s 50% full already, so if you are keen to get on board for the first round at the super low course fee please get a move on.
All the best,
People Strong: Strategic HR and Leadership Coaching