Performance Manage People

by Paula Newton

Introduction

Consider for a minute what it would be like if you and your team had no targets and there were no expectations of you.

  • How would you know what to focus on?
  • What indicators would there be to suggest that you were doing well?
  • How would you know what time to show up in the morning, or in what way you are expected to work?
  • Do you think that much would be achieved?

The answer, of course, is that probably not much would get done.

This gives us some idea of what performance management is all about and why individual performance management is important. In addition, for the manager, there is an even more personal reason to assist those they manage to improve their performance. Unless there is someone available who has the abilities to take over their own post, they have little chance of being promoted.

An inevitable part of performance management is dealing with and correcting poor performance. This is also, perhaps, the most difficult aspect of performance management, and getting it right calls on all your interpersonal skills. You need to handle all performance management sensitively, particularly if you are managing someone who is performing poorly. For them, it can seem like an attack at a personal level when you criticise their performance, and they may react poorly by disrupting others, sabotaging systems, or even escalating the situation into conflict, which in extreme cases can lead to violence.

Fortunately, most people at work do what they are supposed to do most of the time. They are co-operative, hard working and would prefer to do well rather than badly. Though often neglected, performance management is vital with these model staff as well. They still need targets and expectations set, and occasionally they will fall below those targets and will need encouragement and coaching. More importantly, they will always contribute more when guided and managed well.

The quote from Peter Drucker is worth repeating here.

The productivity of work is not the responsibility of the worker but of the manager.

Peter F Drucker

The performance of your people is down to you, as the manager. It is because of something you have done to or for your people, and/or because of something you have failed to do to or for your people.

There is a direct cause-and-effect relationship between what you do as a manager, and the performance of your people. This topic helps you get it right, and to manage the performance of your staff (and yourself) effectively.

Another aspect of performance management is dealing with the performance of larger groups, such as a department or a whole organisation. For more on this, see the topic on organisational Performance Management.