Creating High Performance

High performance in organisations comes from communicating clear performance targets, providing effective feedback and developing people to reach their full potential.

The Benefits of Effective People Management Systems

In the absence of a formal process for managing people and evaluating performance, the main focus of HR tends to be on trouble-shooting and resolving issues of poor performance.  Taking a more proactive approach to creating a culture of high performance will not only minimise the time you spend on addressing poor performance but will enhance the success of your business by getting even better results from your good performers.  Developing people to reach their full potential also has a positive impact on staff morale and retention.

High performing organisations consistently:

1.  Clearly communicate their expectations regarding each role in the business.
2.  Track performance using measurable targets.
3.  Provide effective feedback and support to their people.
4.  Ensure that each person's role is a good match to their strengths and abilities.

Defining Expectations

When hiring a new team member, it’s important to clearly define your expectations of the role with a job description and person specification, communicating the responsibilities of the role and the competencies required to be successful. If you’re struggling to create a job description, the following website has a useful database, covering a wide range of roles:

Setting Measurable Targets

People respond to objective, realistic targets that indicate how well they're performing. Ideally, each role will have 2-3 easily measurable targets linked to critical success factors. Remember that “what gets measured gets done.”  Providing people with a regular feedback on their actual results compared to targets allows them to track their own performance.

Feedback and Support

Effective feedback includes a good balance of positive reinforcement for jobs that have been done well and addressing mistakes. This includes both on-the-job feedback, delivered in a timely manner, and formal feedback received in the performance appraisal process.  

Delivering constructive feedback to people who are not meeting your expectations can be a real challenge.  People tend to become defensive when performance problems are identified.  Having clearly defined expectations and targets helps to defuse the situation by focussing on objective information.  A good manager will use constructive feedback as an opportunity to help the team member learn from their mistakes or motivate them to try a different approach to get better results.  Ongoing, positive reinforcement when a person implements your recommendations helps to build confidence and encourage them to keep improving performance. 

Ensuring that People have the Right Skills and Abilities

Many problems with poor performance start with the hiring process. Thorough interviewing, reference checking and skills assessment ensure that the person you recruit is a good match to your job description and person specification. In addition, psychometric testing can be very beneficial to highlight any aspects of the applicant’s personal style that may not fit with your organisation.

Asking for Help

If you’re struggling to resolve a performance problem with one of your staff, it’s a good idea to ask for help sooner rather than later.  An early intervention can sometimes turn things around and avoid a disciplinary process.