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7 top tips for staff performance management

7 top tips for staff performance management
Helen Straw
Staff development, Mentor, Business development
Find out more about Helen Straw

In this article you’ll learn

  • How to be consistent with your staff performance management
  • What to include in employee's performance management plans
  • How to set goals and motivate your staff

In any business, managing staff performance is really important. Without your staff, your business can’t operate, so you need to make sure that all your employees are on top form and being productive. We’ve brought together 7 top tips for managing employee performance to help get you started.

1. Have a consistent approach to staff performance management

The most important top tip when it comes to performance management is to be consistent. There’s no one size fits all approach to managing employee performance, you should make sure your system is tailored to your business but that it remains the same through all your interactions with you staff.

Think about your business and what you want to achieve with it. How are your staff going to help you get there? Build these goals into your performance management process. Sometimes all you need is a one page document to help you stay consistent, and on track. This can have a list of questions on it that you ask your employees when it’s time for their performance review. You could include things like: how have you demonstrated company values in your work, have you met all your objectives this month, what are the key things they’ve learned, etc.

Decide how frequently you want to conduct performance reviews. Yearly meetings with your staff are great for showing them the bigger picture and setting out clear goals for the future. Having monthly or quarterly reviews could break this down further and establish smaller goals that can be ticked off a list – which everyone loves to do!

If you’ve got the time, weekly 1-1s can also be great for keeping staff on the right track and quickly responding to problems as they arise. You can see our top tips for having great 1-1s here.

Female boss managing staff performance of her male employee

2. Keeping your employees informed

Having a performance review can make people incredibly nervous, which is not good for their health or their productivity. If you make it clear that the review process, while being formal, is simply to help them better understand their job, allow them to share their successes and get a little more support in the areas they may be struggling in. Having regular performance reviews can help to alleviate these worries, as your staff will know what to expect and be prepared to talk about the work they have been involved with.

3. Training

All your employees should be fully trained to do their jobs. If someone doesn’t have the right skills to complete their work, your business will suffer and they’ll likely become frustrated. Make sure that all your staff feel confident to do their job well and to the best of their ability. If their roles change ensure they’ve got all the right skills, attitude and approach. The same goes for you and your managers too – do you have the right skills to be able to conduct a really useful staff performance review?

There are lots of support programmes available to growing businesses to be able to get their staff the training they need. You can find out more about these programmes here, and see how you can create time for training here.

4. Give regular feedback

Once you’ve conducted a performance review, make sure you give timely and accurate feedback. When giving feedback, try to be as clear and specific as possible and use evidence to show your employee you really know what you’re talking about. If they’ve done well, tell them and thank them for their hard work. Employers don’t say thank you enough this helps to create a positive and productive work space and lets your staff know that their efforts are appreciated. Get some extra tips for making a great work environment here. Equally, if someone isn’t meeting their targets or isn’t conducting themselves in an appropriate manner, don’t wait for it to escalate into a larger problem, speak with them about it as soon as you notice. Feedback has to be timely.

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5. Goal setting

In your sessions with your employees, work with them to set goals that you can review next time. If you set goals with them, rather than for them, your employees will be much more likely to engage with the task and succeed. Your staff need to understand and believe in their goals and if you see any resistance, ask them why and address their concerns, there’s probably a good reason for it.

Make sure that all the goals you set for your staff relate back to your business plan and feed into its success. Set goals for employees that work alongside your wider business aims. You might even want to set “stretch” goals, which go beyond what you need your employees to achieve and to give them something extra to work towards. Breaking bigger, yearly targets down into smaller, manageable chunks lets people see the progress they’re making and put big ticks next to the tasks on their to-do lists.

Be realistic with the goals you’re setting – be S.M.A.R.T.

  • Specific – make sure your employees know exactly what to do.
  • Measureable – have a clear way of knowing when a task has been completed.
  • Agreed upon – creating goals with your employees gets them actively involved and more motivated to achieve.
  • Realistic – while stretch goals are a good idea, make sure you set tasks that can actually be achieved.
  • Time sensitive – set deadlines for when the task needs to be achieved by.

Man and woman conducting an employee performance evaluation in a manufacturing warehouse 

6. Create a personal development plan

If your employee has a personal development plan, they’ll be much more motivated in their work because they’ll be learning new things and challenging themselves. It’s also a great way that you can show them that you value them as people, as well as employees. In your performance review comment on what new things they’ve learned and see how it’s been beneficial to the business. Review how their training and development has impacted their work and look for other areas that might improve as a result.

You might want to create a short personal development plan document that both you and your employee can use when reviewing their development. It can help inform their feedback and could include questions like: what do you want to learn, how will it improve your work, when will you achieve it by, how will you know when you’ve achieved it etc.

Check out our tips for continually developing staff here.

7. Motivating staff

Your employees won’t do their best work if they aren’t motivated. Sure, the thought of a pay cheque at the end of each month is a good motivator for coming into work, but getting the very best out of your staff will take a little more than that. Everyone is motivated by different things, whether that be smashing their targets, being a valued employee, developing their career or learning new things. It’s your job to find out what makes your employees tick and encourage it. Once you know what motivates people, you can build it into their personal development plan to help them achieve their goals.

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Summary

Helen Straw shares her top tips for effective staff performance management to help you motivate and develop your employees and better your business.