Performance Management

How to have that difficult conversation

 

Preparing for performance reviews with your team should generally be a straight-forward process.

Typically, the steps include:

  1. Requesting the employee’s feedback on their own performance
  2. Gathering evidence, including things like sales figures, other KPIs/measurements, customer feedback, attendance records, etc.
  3. Completing your manager review
  4. Meeting with your employee to discuss the above, along with their personal development plan
  5. Finalising actions for the next review period

However, where you have a poorly performing employee, additional preparation is required. Here are our recommendations for approaching difficult conversations at performance reviews.

 

Be solution driven.

Any performance difficulties discussed need to conclude with an agreed way of moving forward so that every issue has a solution attached to it at the end of the discussion.

Use the phrase: “So, now that we have discussed this challenge, lets agree how to change this in the future…”

 

Keep the meeting on an equal footing.

Make certain that the meeting allows for the employee to feel that they are completely free to say what they want to – allow time and space for them to talk. If the meeting is not conducted on an equal footing, then half the communication (and much of the benefit) will be lost.

 

Discuss the differences.

Major differences between your manager review and the employee’s self-review highlight a gap in perception and understanding. The discussion will centre on why the perceptions are different and also what can be done to move the assessments up the scale.

 

Is it a problem of motivation or ability?

Ask questions to diagnose the root cause of the issue. Listen for whether it is a case of ‘can’t do’ or ‘won’t do’? Tailor the solution accordingly.

 

Discuss your role in improving the performance.

Are you helping or standing in the way of performance? Are you controlling too much or being too hands-off? Does the employee need more training? How can you can best support them to make positive changes?

 

Make a plan and follow up.

Agree and document the plan – what, who, and by when? Then don’t forget to follow-up. Too often a performance plan languishes unopened until the next review. Regular follow-up is essential to effect real change.

 

Following these guidelines should lead to a constructive conversation and the development of a quality action plan. Keen to learn more? Positive People run a Performance Management module as part of our popular Leadership Development Program. Contact us today at info@positivepeople.co.nz or 09 445 1077 to discuss our group or individual training and development solutions.

Time Management

Making sure you are personally well organised, relaxed and successful. 

 

Time Management is such a misnomer!

No one can manage time. Time proceeds independently of us, and will tick on regardless of what we do.  What we can do is manage ourselves so that we make the best possible use of the time we have at our disposal. And the key to that is ensuring that we are well organised.

 

What simple action can we take?

To be well organised and successful, means you:

  1. Know exactly what you need to be doing every day
  2. Identify and balance the different priorities that keep coming at you
  3. Understand the difference between the Urgent and the Important
  4. Use tools and systems, and get rid of time wasters
  5. Manage pressure so that it does not become stressful.

 

Know exactly what you need to be doing.

It is important to always have a very clear focus for the day ahead. It can never be “just another day”. Every day has to dawn with a set of challenges and goals that you have clearly identified and that you are ready to accomplish. You need to know exactly what you are going to be doing to be successful for the day

 

Identify and balance the different priorities that keep coming at you.

The single most important element of being organised and successful at work is, within the rush and hurly-burly of life, to cultivate the ability to identify, understand and rank your priorities. Choose what to do first, then second, then third – every day. Sometimes there is a practical need to fine-tune these priorities during the day. At the end of the day reset your priorities ready for tomorrow, knowing exactly what you are going to tackle first.

 

“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least”  Goethe. 

 

Understand the difference between the Urgent and the Important.

It is easy to end up chasing your tail every day. There is no success or satisfaction in it. Often the Urgent matters are those that create a whirlpool of busyness – things like some emails, some deadlines, some meetings, interruptions. This single minded dedication to busyness can mean that the Important matters – things like relationship building, planning, prevention strategies –  are sacrificed and put on the back burner, only to emerge as a crisis at a later date.

If you don’t get your car serviced, at some point that lack of action will jump up and bite you – probably at midnight on the motorway.  Make time for the Important.

 

Use tools and systems, and get rid of time wasters. 

Actively choose to move away from a life of crisis management by simply using some effective tools that take the pressure off you.

Make use of your Calendar and To Do lists – they will drive your self-discipline. Also, consciously and deliberately reduce time wasters like some emails, some conversations, some meetings.

 

Manage pressure so that it does not become stressful.

The bonus with good time management is that you do not feel unduly pressurised or stressed.

Too often pressure is internalised as stress, and this then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Pressure in a modern job goes with the territory. The key barriers to preventing pressure feeling like stress is to:

  1. Acknowledge that there is pressure in your job and that this is normal
  2. Don’t be afraid to take pressure and use it to challenge yourself to be better organised
  3. Foster a calm demeanour and put in place practical personal relaxation strategies that help you keep pressure as pressure, no more than that. These may simply be ensuring a regular personal regime of basic health & wellness practices. They may also involve a mind element like meditation
  4. Apply self-discipline and keep on working hard at keeping pressure where it should stay – as an external element of your job that doesn’t get to you

 

It is all about working smarter not harder.

Following these guidelines should help you and your team members to be better organised and ultimately more relaxed and successful. Keen to learn more? Positive People run a Time Management module as part of our popular Leadership Development Program. Contact us today at info@positivepeople.co.nz or 09 445 1077 to discuss our group or individual training, coaching and development solutions.

Communication

Engage and inspire your team with effective communication. 

 

In today’s digital world communication is everywhere, yet why is it so hard to still get cut through in the workplace? From a time when under communicating was a key workplace issue, these days it is easy to over communicate, lose your messages in the noise, or get lost in translation.

 

So how do you get it right?

To make sure your employees receive and understand your key messages make sure you:

  1. Keep it simple
  2. Have a mechanism for feedback
  3. Include verbal communication in your plans
  4. Tailor your message to your audience

 

Keep it simple.

When drafting emails, memos, newsletters or updates it is easy to include too much information or over explain. This will cause your essential messages to get lost.

Before you start think carefully about exactly what you want to say – then say it. This way a clear concise message will be received.

 

Have a mechanism for feedback.

What if your message doesn’t make sense to someone? What if they don’t understand a concept? How easy is it for your employees to ask questions and are they encouraged to do so? In any company communication plan, it is essential to have a place or forum where the team feel comfortable to ask questions and deepen their understanding of your message. Remember the message that you have sent is only what your team understand it to be, so promoting two way conversations and feedback makes sense to help you get this right.

 

“The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

George Bernard Shaw

 

Include verbal communication in your plans.

The increase in online Company communication forums means it is easy to forget the importance of face to face verbal communication, as it is so much quicker and easier to post something online. Written messages can be misunderstood, lack the right tone or a human face, which can aid the impact of your message. Regular team meetings or Company gatherings are crucial to keeping messages personal and connecting your team to your message.

 

Tailor your message to your audience.

It is easy to communicate a message in a way which you understand, but think carefully about your team – are they all like you? Do you have employees with English as a second language, or team members who don’t understand more technical terms, or don’t have an extensive knowledge of business? Giving updates which the team don’t understand adds to the noise and decreases the self-esteem of the team. Think carefully about your audience, recheck your words and write for your team – not for yourself.

 

Strong workplace communication is essential for engagement and motivation and helps to create inclusive, collaborative teams. Using the tips above will help you to get cut through in an increasingly noisy world and create a better workplace for you and your team.

Would you like to improve your Company communication? Positive People run a Communication module as part of our popular Leadership Development Program, which can be tailored for both Managers and staff.  Contact us today at info@positivepeople.co.nz or 09 445 1077 to discuss our group or individual training, coaching and development solutions.