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Effective performance management

It is a well-used quote from Mr Richard Branson’s repertoire, but “employees are your companies’ greatest asset, and your people are your product”. So put simply, if your employees are engaged your business will do better.

So, what does ‘Effective Performance Management’ involve? First and foremost Employers need to establish clear expectations so there is an understanding by the employee of their essential job functions, and what goals need to be achieved. Employers need to view the working relationship as a collaboration, and where possible give employees a sense of ownership and responsibility. If performance management is something that managers ‘do’ to employees, then confrontation will become inevitable.

Having an ‘effective’ performance management approach increases morale, motivates employees, fosters trust and improves productivity – so a ‘win win’ situation for all.

So how does an employer set about implementing an ‘effective’ performance improvement plan? Our advice is to begin with the bigger picture. Review where your business is going, and then review and ask yourself what the employee can do to get you there. What is your overall strategic plan?

A good starting point is to review the employees job description. Is it current and does it reflect what the employee does? If not, meet with the employee and agree a revised job description. Consider and identify what links between the employee’s role, the goals you want your business to achieve and the overall strategy of your business. We would then suggest you identify and agree with the employee 3 – 5 key performance objectives. The SMART acronym is helpful: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant & Time frame.

Once agreed, as an employer you then need to Monitor the performance. Hold regular meetings to assess progress. These meetings can also help identify barriers which may be holding back the employee. Have a participatory mindset which includes recognising success and focus on behaviours and results as oppose to evaluating attitude.

Above all, don’t assume that your employee knows what the objectives and goals of your business are. Tell them what these are in a constructive and organised manner, and what the employee needs to do to help your business achieve its strategic aims.

Post employee meeting, you should document the performance and agreed action points – if you have an underperforming employee it will be far easier to evidence this if you find yourself having to take formal disciplinary action for poor performance. Make sure you record future objectives and get the employees ‘buy into’ the process.

Above all, ‘effective’ performance management requires upfront investment by employers and managers, but it is one of the best investments of time you will make.

Our specialist employment team can advise you and help you create and implement a performance management plan that works for your business. If it becomes necessary to consider formal disciplinary action we can also advise you on how to go about implementing this. It is imperative that before you reach the point of dismissing an employee on capability grounds, you can evidence that a fair process was followed, and the actions taken throughout were reasonable. For more information please refer to our Dismissal – Performance Capability section.

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