Performance Manage People

by Paula Newton

Common questions

  1. Why is my team member not meeting his/her objectives?
  2. How can I set clear objectives for the performance that I expect?
  3. How can I improve the performance of a team member?
  4. My boss is setting me unreasonable targets. What can I do?
  5. I am giving my staff feedback, but one person isn’t improving. What can I do?
  6. How can I make sure my team is working towards the company targets?

 

1. Why is my team member not meeting his/her objectives?

In understanding why a team member hasn’t met their objectives, it is important to consider a number of factors, such as

  • Were the set objectives reasonable?
  • Does the person have the skills and knowledge to meet the objectives?
  • Does the person realise they are not meeting their objectives? Do they perhaps have a different perception of the situation?
  • Has the person received sufficient feedback about the job that they are doing?

Your role as a manager is equally as important as that of the employee in ensuring that each member of your team meets their objectives.

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2. How can I set clear objectives for the performance that I expect?

Setting effective goals is essential for performance management. A good tool to use is the SMART acronym: goals should be

* a time frame should be assigned.

If goals are not reasonable, failure is likely. This is not an indicator of poor performance, rather an indicator that the goals were not achievable in the first place.

Setting targets that have no stretch to them can be boring for people who like a challenge, while setting objectives that are out of a person’s reach can prove frustrating, leading to despair and under-performance.

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3. How can I improve the performance of a team member?

There is a number of ways in which you can raise the performance of a team member. You can assess whether they need further training and ensure that they get it. This does not necessarily have to include expensive training courses: it might be as simple as job shadowing, for example. You can also use tools such as coaching, regular feedback and one-to-one sessions. You could consider finding a mentor for the person. In some cases, where external issues are affecting performance, counselling might be appropriate.

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4. My boss is setting me unreasonable targets. What can I do?

If your boss is setting targets that are unrealistic, you will need to ensure that they understand the situation. This means challenging the situation, but without appearing to be a person who says ‘I can’t’ too frequently. You will need to present the evidence in a way that is palatable to your boss and turns the situation around, so that you appear to be telling your boss what you can do rather than what you can’t manage to achieve. One good way to do this is to make it clear that you are effectively prioritising your work (and are not able to fully meet the set targets as a result).

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5. I am giving my staff feedback, but one person isn’t improving. What can I do?

Sometimes an individual does not respond to performance management tactics, such as goal-setting, feedback and coaching. This might be due to perception: for instance, the person may feel that they are doing a great job already and are therefore not listening to what you are trying to tell them.

It may also be due to a phenomenon known as the ‘blind spot’. Everyone has blind spots, or areas that they are unaware of, that they may not realise are a problem. The important thing is to be able to get them to acknowledge the problem. This can sometimes be achieved through a 360 degree appraisal.

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6. How can I make sure my team is working towards the company targets?

It’s essential to ensure that goals are set in line with company targets, so that everyone is moving in the same direction. It is necessary to take your company or departmental targets and figure out how your team should be fitting into the overall plan. In which areas can your team really help the business move forward towards its targets? If your department does not have targets, you may want to consider thinking about the targets that you believe your team should be working towards. You can then run them past your boss, to ensure that what you are doing is in line with what the company wants to achieve.

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