A common story of workplace woes: a new employee joins your team. They have the right skills and qualifications, seem like a great fit, and your team is excited to welcome them. The employee’s performance starts off strong, but over time, it starts to dwindle. Tasks get dropped, deadlines get missed, and other team members start to complain.
How did this happen? What happened to the “rockstar” you hired?
After working with dozens of small business owners who struggle with employee performance management, I’ve noticed a few trends emerge again and again.
Managers and organization leaders will ask, “how do I get “employee x” to perform better?”
With a little more digging, we typically find that the missed deadlines and dropped tasks are less about performance management, and more a result of a few missing items.
Here are four mistakes that cause employee performance issues:
Lack of job descriptions - No one LOVES to update job descriptions, but if these aren’t updated and communicated throughout the organization - especially during times of growth - it is easy for key responsibilities to get missed, not receive enough attention, or for multiple people to be working on the same thing. This can lead to inefficiencies, and people get upset when others start swimming in their lanes. Lack of clarity can also lead to balls being dropped, which opens the door to finger pointing and discord.
Lack of focus - Does your organization have a dashboard, or system of making sure that everyone has a “number” or other way of clearly understanding priorities? This is when a business framework, like Entrepreneur’s Operating System, can make sure that the organization is frequently reviewing and aligned on Key Performance Indicators, or metrics. Getting everyone on the same page and aligned around the biggest priorities can help each individual set their daily and weekly goals to have the biggest impact on the organization.
Lack of project management - Does your organization have a way to track short term activities? Business frameworks, and project management software like Asana, can help ensure that everyone knows what needs to be done by when. Some people think that having a system that gets into this level of detail is “micromanaging,” while I think of it as “managing.”
Lack of communication - Employees crave time with their supervisors to understand goals, priorities, how their effort fits into the bigger picture, to get immediate feedback when something could be done better, and to receive recognition (especially public) when things go right. Managers can be busy, and the remote and hybrid environments that exist right now don’t help. Each manager should be spending at least 15 minutes per week touching base with each team member. If you don’t have time to do this, then maybe you have too many direct reports.
If an organization can get these four areas right, then putting a formal system in place that works for the culture and reward systems will be successful. There are a variety of philosophies when it comes to these systems, and here are a few that we have seen be successful:
- Quarterly “Celebrate Success” meetings with an annual compensation adjustment that is completely separate from goal setting and feedback meetings.
- Annual performance reviews that are correlated to an annual merit/bonus increase.
- Semi-annual touch base meetings with an annual cost of living increase and a bonus based on company and team performance.
Want to dive deeper?
Here are some free resources we can provide for you:
- Job description template
- Performance Management whitepaper
Want to take your performance management tools to the next level?
Here are some ways that we can help:
- HR one hour “Quick chat” to talk about your specific performance management situations
- Performance management workshop for managers
- Facilitated 360 feedback session for leadership team members
- Performance management system designed for your culture and organization
If you would like our more in-depth whitepaper on this topic or a job description template, just let me know! Or, if you would like us to design a system for you, or to facilitate a 360 degree exercise, we’d be happy to chat with you to see if our services could be a good fit to help your team.
Let us know how we can help! Schedule an appointment with our HR expert, or call us at (734) 747-2936 to determine if this is the right fit for you!
Next month I’ll be musing about employee engagement. Do you have a question that I can answer - send it to me at Amy@AmyCellTalent.com
Amy Cell is a renowned and passionate pioneer in HR and Talent initiatives. She also leads an innovative consulting firm that specializes in recruiting and HR services for startups, small businesses, and municipalities.View Bio