performance management training

Set your employees up for success with an employee performance improvement plan.

The benefits of an employee performance improvement plan

Employee performance planning allows us to set employees up for success.  It allows us to catch and correct problem performance quickly.  And it also helps us to recognize and reinforce what our employees are doing well.

It’s interesting that there is so much focus on how to “deal with” performance problems, or even worse “problem employees”.  And while there’s no doubt that personal agendas and conflicts can be a major factor, problems often arise because employees don’t really know what’s expected of them. And once that person feels that they have failed, it can set up a vicious cycle of defensiveness and resistance.

And from your perspective as a manager, how do you discuss and correct the problem when you really have nothing to compare it against? Here’s a mini case study:

Bob was hired 3 months ago. Other employees have been complaining that he is late several times a week. And even worse, he doesn’t seem the least bit sorry about this! How could he be so inconsiderate to his coworkers? Obviously, he doesn’t take this job seriously…. And on and on go the complaints. Customers have complained to that they have called in the morning and he’s not there.

Now obviously this is a problem that needs to be dealt with. But take some time to consider all the facts. First of all – have you ever explained that it’s important to be on time? And the consequences not being on time?

Consider the back story: In his last job, there was a lot of flexibility regarding hours of work. If he needed to drop his kids off at school in the morning, he would start work 30 minutes late, but then stay later in the day. Or make time up on his lunch break. He always got his work done and to a high level of quality.

In fact, when you take a further look – Bob stays late almost every evening. He actually puts in more than the expected number of hours. And his work is of a very high quality. He is polite and supportive of his coworkers. Other than this one issue, he really is a good employee.

So now you can approach this issue by making Bob aware of the importance of being on time and why. That is, it causes problems for his coworkers and customers. Imagine if you had come at Bob with accusations of being a trouble maker and not caring about his work? He probably would have become discouraged and resentful. A good employee could have taken a bad turn.

So taking some time to do employee performance planning greatly help to set your people up for success.  And it doesn’t have to be a lengthy and onerous process.  Here’s some quick and easy tips to get you started!

Employee Performance Planning: Tips for Managers

Taking some time up front to create a performance improvement plan with your employees ensures that they get off on the right foot. And that there won’t be unexpected surprises down the road. Here’s my top 5 tips.

  1. Be clear on the expectations of the workplace, and to each employee specific role. Don’t assume that people “just know”. There are many variations across both organizational and national culture. And each individual in influenced by past experiences.
  2. Ensure that the employee truly understands the expectations. Again, don’t assume that because you have said it that they fully grasp it. Ask questions to get their feedback. For example – What challenges do you see with this? How will you address those challenges?
  3. Make sure that the employee has the appropriate training and resources to be successful.   If they will need training and/or time to learn new skills, be sure to build that into the plan.
  4. Agree upon how you will measure the employee’s success. Nothing is more frustrating than working hard to do a good job, only to find out it wasn’t what your boss wanted! Set some concrete examples of what a “good job” looks like.
  5. Set up a time to get together again and review progress. Do it often, so that you can correct small issues before they become big problems. In a manager’s busy world, it can be easy to let this slip until you are suddenly at the formal performance evaluation. So get some meetings in your calendar during the planning stage.

Performance planning will help you and your employees to be working from a common place. It will set a benchmark for performance evaluations. For example, you can point to each item and say – how did you do on this? You can clearly see where employees have been successful, and where they have not expectations. It opens the door for discussion on why expectations were not met, so that you and your employees can work together on solutions.

Learn tools & techniques for performance management

Build the skills you need to improve performance at all levels of your organization.  Learn at your own pace with the Strategic Manager Online School.  Try it out with our free mini course on how to remove barriers to employee motivation.


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