How to Get Ahead of Low Performance with a Effective Performance Management Process

Every company’s success depends on its employees. Having a team that works cohesively is important, but it’s equally critical that every individual is pulling his or her own weight, and getting the job done. Recognizing and rewarding your top performers encourages retention and motivates them to work at their peak potential. At the same time, coaching and counseling your low performers can get them up to speed before they start dragging down the rest of your team.

That’s hard to do if you only discuss performance once a year.

That’s why organizations are increasingly moving from annual reviews to ongoing performance management programs. This approach ensures that managers actively help high-performing employees continue to excel and develop, and more quickly course correct those whose performance is lacking.

Steps for an effective performance management

Performance management is an ongoing process of communication between manager and employees that occurs throughout the year, in support of accomplishing the strategic work of the organization. This process typically includes these steps or stages:

  1. Performance Planning: The employee and manager set specific, measurable, attainable goals that support company objectives. That’s the North Star.
  2. Monitoring: The manager monitors the employee’s progress on those preset goals, and has regular, informal discussions with each employee on how they’re doing, and steps they can take to improve outcomes.
  3. Reviewing/Developing: The manager reviews the results, identifies if the goals were met, how the employee’s skills have developed, and, what additional training or development is needed.
  4. Rating and Rewarding: The manager rates employees, rewards high achievers and takes the appropriate action with the underachievers.

Then, another cycle begins with the planning phase.

6 sure signs of underperformance

For most managers, the most difficult part of their job is communicating to employees who aren’t meeting performance expectations in a clear and factual way. It’s important to ensure the employee understands what good performance looks like, and why their work fell short.

These six indicators are sure signs that an employee is not performing his or her job to expectation:

  1. Goals aren’t being met. This is by far the most visible red flag that merits immediate discussion.
  2. The employee relies too heavily on others to meet his or her goals. Teamwork is great, but if the employee is not doing his or her share of the work, jump in and find out way. Is more training needed, or is the employee intentionally coasting along?
  3. The quality of work is poor. Yes, it got done, but not up to your company’s quality standards. It’s important to carefully explain why the work isn’t acceptable and talk through ways to raise the bar.
  4. The employee has difficulty working with co-workers or supervisor, or both. The employee is getting the job done, and can even be producing high-quality work, but he or she just can’t work with other people. If the employee is an individual performer, that may not be a problem—particularly if that person is working remotely. But, if interaction is required, or that friction has impacted other employees’ ability to get work done, action is needed, sooner than later.
  5. The employee doesn’t embrace company values. Many organizations are now adding language to their performance review metrics about being able to uphold the company’s culture, values or mission. This makes sense because a company’s people are its brand. Organizations need employees who embrace the parts of their culture that make the company successful, and managers need to continually reinforce those ethics along the way.
  6. The employee violates company policy. Just as no one is above the law, no employee—top producer or not—can knowingly violate company policy without some repercussion, which, depending on the violation or if this is a repeat issue, could be termination.

Open lines of communication boost performance, engagement and success

Most people want to do well at their job, advance professionally, and actively contribute to the company’s success. By making the time to set up a performance management strategy that provides continuous feedback and makes performance conversations regular, year-round events, you can keep your good employees engaged, reduce low performance and ensure your team has the tools and guidance they need to add more value and get greater satisfaction from their jobs.