Addressing the Issue of Performance Management

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How well do your employees perform? Do some of your employees always go the extra mile to get the job done right first time, but others only do enough to get by? Do you find some of your staff work to rule whilst others are not precious about working the whole of their lunch break if there is an important piece of work to complete? In this current economic climate employers need to work hard to ensure their workforce is engaged, motivated and productive to guarantee the survival of their business without hitting the purse strings and profit margins. Larger corporations have many performance management tools at their disposal such as, bonuses, commission payments, rewarding staff, monthly/quarterly meetings, training events etc. Not to say all of these are effective tools but if used in the correct way they can be powerful. What about SME’s? Unfortunately, SME’s don’t tend to have performance management tools or not many and, where they exist, they are usually not used correctly so become ineffective and no longer implemented. Performance Management tools do not need to be complicated or costly but do require commitment. A small employer can take a few simple steps as detailed below to ensure their employees are working in alignment to the core business objectives.
  • Set your employees clear specific, measurable, achievable, realistic objectives with a time scale. These objectives should be derived from the employee’s job description and the businesses core objectives. E.g. Business goal is to increase customer numbers by 20% in 6 months. The employee’s objective may be to contact 10 potential customers a day and get an appointment with them. This objective is specific; it can be measured in terms of volume and time. Whether it is achievable and realistic this will be clear in the next point.


  • Get buy in from your employees – start to have two way dialogues about setting objectives, ask them what is achievable. They may come back and say I can contact 15 customers a day instead of your proposed 10. The objectives should be individual to the employee and not ‘one size fits all’. You will have an employee who will struggle to contact 5 customers a day because of their ability level but the business needs 10 contacts per day to grow. The conversations here will determine what extra training and support this employee requires and can the employer provide that level of training and support. Look at what the employee’s strengths are and utilise them.


  • Agree and book time in the diary for you both to meet again. This can be monthly or quarterly and depends on time constraints and what works for your organisation. If the business is small then the owner/director would hold these meetings, if there are managers then delegate to them to manage their teams. The important thing is that regular review meetings are held. They don’t have to go on for hours, but to touch base with each other and gain an understanding of where the individual is against their objective, are they on target to achieve, if not why not and what remedial support needs to be put into place. It is really important that these conversations take place and they are a two way dialogue. This improves communication and gives transparency to the tool. If regular review meetings are not held, the whole system breaks-down and when an employer then wants to dismiss an employee for poor performance a year down the road, it is a painful and likely to be costly experience.


  • Annual Review time – 12 months later the annual review meeting takes place. There are no surprises at this meeting. If the employee performed and achieved the objectives they were set, they should be recognised for their efforts and rewarded. This can be a financial reward if the business can afford it otherwise a non-financial reward is just as well received. Maybe extra responsibilities are delegated to the good performer, thus increasing motivation further. On the other hand the consistently poor performer has already progressed through additional training, support and then warnings and dismissal stages of the poor performance management system. The regular reviews will evidence that opportunity for improvement has been given and the incompetency of the employee has justified the dismissal.


By addressing performance issues of their workforce and creating a transparent and structured workplace by following the above steps has resulted in the business now employing individuals who are motivated, engaged and productive to help the business survive and grow.

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