Performance management is an ongoing challenge in most organizations. Managers spend hours huddled over spreadsheets, analyzing employee performance metrics, looking for ways to improve performance and boost production. When mistakes happen – and they do happen – the bulk of the blame is often shoved off onto the employee. What leaders often fail to acknowledge is their role in the errors. This lack of leadership accountability can cause problematic issues to continue repeating. This, in turn, causes a decrease in employee morale as frustration and devaluation increase.
Dan Pontefract, author of FLAT ARMY: Creating a Connected and Engaged Organization finds the connection between leadership and employee performance to be essential to an organization’s growth, but it is often misunderstood or given less credence than it should. He asserts that performance management isn’t really about managing employee performance at all. Instead, it is the responsibility of the leader to help build up the employee then aid them in releasing that enhanced performance. In other words, the leadership role extends far beyond guiding and motivating. Leadership can and should shape employee performance, making it more relevant and effective within the organization.
Ensure Systems are Built Out to Assign Responsibilities
One of the most common causes of missed deadlines and mistakes in an organization is the failure of the leadership team to build out processes of ownership. All too often, management will assign tasks then leave employees completely on their own to figure out how those tasks should be accomplished. They fail to provide direction and there is not consistent voice in how the task should be done or what the end result should be. This often undermines the company in many areas including branding, production, and employee retention. If five different employees complete the same task there will likely be five different outcomes if there is no consistent guidance. In certain areas, this can be detrimental to operations.
Consistency and clarity are instrumental in establishing order within a company. Every repeatable task should have clear instructions and each step of the task should have an owner. Before leadership pins a mistake on one employee, they should first ensure that the employee has been granted access to a document that outlines all the steps in their task, thus specifying their role in the mistake. It is important for leaders to learn how to build business systems and how to use them effectively in employee performance management.
Have Regular Check-Ins
According to HR software firm, Clear Company, 45 percent of human resource leaders downplay the relevance of annual performance reviews as an accurate reflection of an employee’s work. In fact, feedback as a whole seems to be a problem. One in five employees do not feel that their leadership will provide them with constructive, regular feedback. Some impressive numbers support this. An astounding 43 percent of employees who are highly engaged and effective within their organization receive feedback once a week or more.
Regular and frequent feedback not only allows leadership the opportunity to correct potential errors, it also improves employee efficiency as a whole. This does not have to be one-on-one meetings. Leaders can hold regular check-ins with their team to ensure that each member is aware of his or her role in the various processes. Any uncertainty or signs of doubt in responsibilities should be a red flag, warning that ownership of the role needs to be better explained. This is also a prime opportunity for leaders to praise and encourage employees who are doing well as well as identify undiscovered strengths in team members. It is the leader’s responsibility to use the time to the best advantage of the team.
Ensure that Task Owners are Qualified
There are many reasons that the wrong employee may be assigned a task. From a lapse in judgment on the leadership’s part to misrepresentation on the part of employee to lack of adequate training, the reasons are endless. However, how isn’t nearly as important as getting the project back on track as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, this situation usually does not rear its head until a mistake has already occurred. The good news is, leadership that is checking in regularly with their team has a much better chance of catching the mistake early and correcting the issue.
When mistakes happen, the prudent leader will begin assessing each task and the employee assigned to it. It is not uncommon for a failure in one task to result from smaller failures in other tasks, so focusing on just one employee is not wise. All project owners should be called in and evaluated to ensure that each is qualified to manage the tasks that have been assigned to him or her.
Effective employee performance is not something that can be addressed once or twice a year then forgotten for the rest of the time. Great leaders recognize the need for ongoing, frequent feedback, letting the employee know not only the areas they need to improve or where they are failing, but also in what they are getting right.
The EOS model was built as a framework to help small businesses grow, and uses tools such as “Rocks” and “L10 Meetings” in order to manage accountability and help businesses scale
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The Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) was created by Gino Wickman (Author of Traction-get a grip on your business) and is a registered trademark of EOS Worldwide. Chris Hallberg of Traction Inc. is a Certified EOS Implementer(tm) that helps business owners and their leadership teams get more of what they want from their business.