Much has been written on this subject; whether it is the latest “initiative” hitting the world of work or the more traditional methods that have been practiced for many years. To save you time, we have compiled this list of hints and tips that will help you to maximise productivity.
Managers must set clear expectations and communicate well
Frequent communication is vital to make sure that objectives are understood. Managers should get employees to confirm back to them what is expected from them. Managers must then manage the expectations they have set to ensure they are respected and that the desired results are achieved. Do not let these expectations slip and do not add to them without a clear explanation of why they have been modified.
Train managers and ensure they have the tools they need to be effective managers
Management training is essential to ensure that all managers are giving out the same messages and have the techniques to deal with the issues they will face when enhancing company performance.
Ensure employees have the power to do their job well
Empower employees so that they have the authority to make decisions which will affect their success and allow them to delegate if appropriate and applicable to maximise success. They should have input into the objectives set for them so that they are agreed and the employees take ownership. Give them the resources and hold them accountable without micromanaging them. That way, they should be able to find better solutions to problems themselves.
Use the tools available in your organisation to ensure everyone is aware of company policies and procedures
Whether this is through the intranet or employee handbooks or policy files, ensure company policies and procedures are available to all.
Examine the recruitment methods used
Recruitment offers a great opportunity to get the very best people to work for you. Are you doing this well or not? How thorough is the process? How much does the process test for competency for the new role? Will the individual be a “good fit” for your organisation? Will they plug any missing skill gaps? Can you offer the promotion they are looking for?
Management consistency regarding company policies
Ensure complete fairness across all employees and teams. Ensure everyone has to follow the rules laid down and that there is no favouritism. Any inconsistencies will lead to frustration and decrease productivity.
If there are problems or issues, be very clear about the exact problem or issue
Reprimanding a member of the team can be just as uncomfortable for the manager as the team member. What is vital is that the team member at the end of the conversation is very clear about the improvement they need to make and how they are going to go about achieving it. The manager does not want to hurt the team member’s feelings so often softens the message, but in doing so, it is vital to make sure the message is clear. Using what is known as a “praise sandwich” is a good method of achieving a clear message in a constructive way. This involves starting with a positive message such as what they have done well, then moving onto the area that needs improving and being very clear on what this is and jointly agreeing how this will be achieved, and then finishing in a positive note so they go away motivated. It is vital that you are honest though so don’t make up areas to be positive on if they do not exist. However, generally there will be something worthy of praise.
Managers must be ready to engage with team members
It is important that you are open to any suggestions or criticism that the team member may have and that you can discuss and take these on board as appropriate to reach an agreed solution. A solution to the problem may even arise out of your conversations. For example, it may be that the office is too noisy for them to concentrate, in which case you might suggest they suggest work from home on a regular basis to help combat this or something similar.
Managers should tailor their approach to each individual
We all have preferred methods of working, management styles, etc., so make sure that you know your audience and adapt the approach to suit your team members and keep them motivated. Some people need straight communication and little supervision, while others need deeper explanations and more checking to confirm they are on target. For all employees, look to develop and improve strengths rather than constantly criticise weaknesses, and in every situation, think about how best to manage and motivate each individual in the team.
Set clear goals and timeframes
Everyone must know exactly what is expected of them and when so that they can work to achieve this. Clarity and communication are vital, as is checking that all team members understand what is expected. Set milestones to check on progress as well as completion. Set clear objectives that are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound). If there is poor performance, assess whether it could be related to disinterest in the subject or project, or whether it is lack of talent or application. Find out what they prefer to do and how they want their career to progress. A genuine interest will draw the best out of anyone.
Look to reward improvement
Make it clear that good work is recognised within the workplace. How you do this will often be down to company policy and workplace initiatives. However, often the most powerful method of reward is praise and recognition within the company. Bonuses work well, along with instant recognition or the promise of career advancement if the good work continues.
Deal with a lack of improvement in work
In the same way that you offer reward for achievement, you need to deal with any lack of improvement. This will ensure that messages mean something and help guarantee you are operating as productively as possible. If clear goals and expectations are not met, assess why and, where necessary, issue warnings to make it clear that improvement is vital.
Regular, timely and meaningful performance appraisals
Appraisals should be conducted consistently throughout the organisation to effectively manage performance through a formal system that is recorded. There has been much discussion recently on the best way to carry these out or perhaps give them another name. However, they play a fundamental role in performance management. And because it is formalised and consistent, it helps achieve equality and fairness. Done well, appraisals can be incredibly useful for all parties and they will maximise performance. However, done poorly they will not be worth the paper they are printed on (presuming they are not all on-line!)
Know when to walk away
If you have worked hard with an employee and there is little or no progress, then, if there are no other extenuating circumstances, you need to take action. It may be that the individual and your company are just not compatible, or that the individual is just not up to the job. Ensure that correct procedures are followed for this, whether that is disciplinary or capability. Do not leave things as they are otherwise it will demotivate all other team members and affect the performance and competitiveness of your company. Consistency and fair treatment for all is vital here.
Ensure a high level or work morale by considering the following:
- The value of benefits can affect morale considerably. Therefore, review benefits, work environment, salary levels, etc. Ensure the benefits on offer are valued by your employees; if they are not, propose changes and remember that they do not have to be high value benefits. A day off for birthdays is relatively low cost (if not getting others to cover) but is very well perceived.
- Ensure the company’s mission and vision are understood. This will help individuals appreciate the part they play in the company’s success.
- Talk to employees and ask what they need and follow up as necessary.
- Work constantly at improving team cohesiveness.
Many times, when productivity suffers, there is an identifiable root cause. Aspects such as dissatisfied employees, the wrong fit for the role, insufficient training, lack of appropriate tools, conflicting priorities, and unclear expectations can all get in the way of employee productivity. Identifying these root causes can help uncover the path to maximum productivity. We hope that the hints and tips above will help you maximise performance in your organisation.
Contact Outsourcing HR with your questions on performance management
Professional advice and support from Outsourcing HR can help you improve employee performance in your organisation. Contact us today for a no-obligation discussion. Simply call 07894-546333 or email Margaret Keane.