Performance Management

Set Realistic Performance Goals

It’s important for goals to be difficult to achieve, to challenge us. However, too much of a challenge can cause extreme stress leading to burnout. A study from Gallup reveals setting realistic performance goals is a better indicator of work-life balance than allowing flexible work arrangements. For those employees who are at risk of burnout, revisit their goals to determine if they are realistic, or if they need adjusting.

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Hold “Renters” Accountable

Identify employees you lead who could improve their ownership behaviors and help them develop plans for improvement. Clearly explain the impact of their behavior on the organization, their colleagues, and those they serve. Set clear expectations for adherence to ownership behavior.  Establish a timeline for improvement and clearly communicate the consequences of continued negative behavior.

 

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Find Ways to Be An Owner

Seek out ownership opportunities within your organization. You don’t need a specific role or job title to be an owner. Adopt a “that’s my job” mindset. Be willing to help and execute in areas other than your assigned responsibilities.

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Take Pride in Your Work

Execute your responsibilities to the best of your ability. Your work is a reflection of your personal accountability. Identify ways to go above and beyond in your work to exceed the expectations of your leader and team, and positively affect the organization’s results.

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Stretch Yourself

Identify a new challenge you would like to take on or a new skill you are passionate about developing. Are you an aspiring leader who would like to gain more experience? What area could you develop that will get you closer to your career goals? Create a plan for the next 90 days to challenge yourself.

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Where Are You Going?

If your organization isn’t providing a formal career map or development plan for you, take ownership and create your own. What do you want to get out of your career? In what areas would you like to advance your skills?

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Use High Performers to Guide

Low solid performers are committed to the organization, but can also be easily influenced by negative, low performers. To best support a low solid performer, partner them with positive, high performers for skill development opportunities.

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Encourage Solid Performers

Solid performers want to build relationships with their leaders, have opportunities for professional development, and hear feedback that inspires improvement. Identify the solid performers on your team, and help them grow by identifying one skill or area for improvement at a time. Ask engaging questions to gain reflective insight and possible solutions from the employee. Ask how you can support their growth and professional development.

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Address Poor Performance

High performers want to work in organizations with other high performers. When leaders avoid addressing low performers, high and solid performers notice sub-par performers aren’t keeping up and can become frustrated, sometimes to the point that they will choose to leave the department or organization. It’s not fair for your team of high and solid performers to carry the low performers, its crucial to address low performer behavior quickly and effectively to retain high performers.

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Establish a Mentorship Program

64% of managers say they don’t think their own employees will be able to keep pace with skills needed in the future and only 20% have the skills needed for both their current role and their future career. Organizations can capitalize on their own employees to fill in any skills gaps by establishing a mentorship program. This can be more formal one-on-one mentoring, peer-to-peer mentoring, or group mentoring. Get started by asking your employees what they hope to get out of their future mentorship program.

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Use Probing Questions

Rather than risk alienating a team member with constructive criticism, try probing questions to initiate improvement. Start with: “Have you experienced any barriers to achieving results recently? How did you work through that?” Then, probe: “Can you think of a time you’ve experienced a similar barrier? What did you do?” Offer suggestions by explaining what has worked for you in a similar situation. Close by asking: “What actions could you take to grow and develop your skills? How can I help you?”

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What’s Working Well?

Even the highest performing employees appreciate check-ins with their leader. Meet with your direct reports on a monthly basis to talk about what is going well, what can be improved, what support is needed, and what progress the individual has made on their quarterly and/or annual plans.

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Connect with Aspiring Leaders

Once you’ve identified upcoming leaders within the organization, get to know them better. Identify their skills and what areas can be improved. During one-on-one meetings with aspiring leaders, ask for their input on how they can build their needed skills. Strive to provide upcoming leaders with additional opportunities to own key outcomes.

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The Right Data

Collecting data has a specific purpose. The type of data collected and the tool used for collection is determined by the issue, problem, or challenge to be addressed. Start by identifying one goal that the team or organization wants to achieve. What data is needed to understand the current state, set a challenging goal, and measure the progress? Collecting the right data and using it for improvement is essential to increasing performance.

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Track Recognition

Using the recognition tracking form or a similar process, record who you’ve acknowledged and why. If you supervise others, track who recognizes who and why. This allows you to see who and what is being recognized as well as performance trends.

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Weekly Connections

Connect with your team once a week for 10-15 minutes. Each member reports: one win/progress made, what step they’re taking next, and any potential barriers to achieving their goal.

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Use Feedback to Motivate

Many individuals crave feedback at work. It lets us know we’re on the right track, and reveals areas for improvement. The best feedback results from asking questions such as, “What is going well and why is it going well?,” “Are you experiencing any barriers? Why?,” and “How have you overcome similar barriers in the past?.” Use these prompts next time you’re providing feedback to a team member.

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Offer Freedom within the Fences

The most successful organizations are those that offer employees “freedom within fences.” The standards and expectations are collaboratively set, based on the organization’s goals. Then, leaders and employees creatively operate within the fence. This type of structure is not about control. Progress is monitored and direction is provided for how to achieve success.

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Assign a Champion of the Goal

The organization’s executive leader determines the champion to own each of the goals and its achievement. The focus of the champion is always on how to reach or surpass the target. This is the person responsible for reporting out results at regular intervals and for identifying areas of success. The champion also facilitates discussion of strategy implementation and any needed changes or adjustments. These discussions and decisions always revolve around hitting the goal and increasing performance.

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One Step at a Time

Annual or 90-day goals broken into bite-sized pieces creates the opportunity for small, achievable wins that build momentum and confidence within the team. Use these small achievements as an opportunity to celebrate progress towards the goal.

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Communicate Progress

The stoplight colors are an easy and quick way to communicate progress toward achieving a goal. The green, yellow, and red colors are used to show the status in relation to achieving the goals. There is at least one measure (data set) for each goal. If there is no progress towards the goal, red is used. If the goal has been reached, we used green. A stoplight chart is a simple way to monitor progress and is a great visual communication tool.

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Engage People with Feedback

Formal and informal conversations with individuals provide us with feedback we can immediately use to improve employee engagement. If an employee expresses a need for a tool to get their job done, provide the employee with a time frame for when they will receive what is needed. Follow-up on the information you gathered to close the loop.

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Align Awards to Performance

Everyone makes a difference in the organization. Spend time during quarterly strategy sessions awarding individuals who have reached specific performance outcomes.

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Identify the Actions

Which actions will produce 80% of the quarterly goal results? Identifying which actions produces the majority of the results will align individual behavior to organizational goals.

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Be Open to Feedback

Thank your colleague who cares enough to speak up and provide you with feedback. Feedback is a caring gesture meant to help you grow.

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Be Specific

During performance conversations, address specific actions and behaviors you’ve observed. Avoid talking in generalities.

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The Joy of Reward

Recognize your high performers by giving them more responsibility or an opportunity to work in an area they are most passionate about.

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Feedback to Inspire

While giving critical feedback, remind the recipient that you believe in them and their abilities, the goal you are collectively trying to achieve, and the new information they need to drive to excellence.

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Concentrate on Your Strengths

Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses. Focus on your strengths and let leaders, mentors and others help you with your weaknesses.

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Objective Evaluations

Adopt and commit to an objective, measurable, leader evaluation tool and hold leaders accountable for the results.

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Tough Talks

When you are faced with a tough conversation, first consider your goals. The first is to solve the problem. The second is to do so without damaging the relationship.

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Develop Yourself to Develop Others

Choose a skill you need to develop further as a leader and set aside 30 minutes each day to practice. We can only take someone as far as we’ve taken ourselves.

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What Gets Recognized Gets Repeated

Set clear expectations by immediately recognizing individuals who are doing the right things in the right way.

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Priorities Align to Values

Analyze your actions for today and determine if they are in line with the mission and values of your organization. Identify what actions will lead to the most results and spend your time accordingly.

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Observe and Learn

To improve the performance of your team, observe and review behaviors of low performing teams as well as those of high performing teams. By observing low performing teams you learn what not to do.

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Your Email Can Wait

What is the difference between busy and productive? Are we busy each day but not productive? Minimize your “busy-work” tasks and email checking by doing those at the very beginning and very end of the day. This strategy will help you focus on completing work that aligns directly to your goals.

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Work Towards Annual Goals Daily

Break your 90-day goals down to weekly goals and monitor your progress each week. 90-day planning focuses on the 90-day priorities and actions that will move you closer to achievement of your annual goals. Viewing annual goals in smaller portions will keep you aligned to the right goals.

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Do Less to Accomplish More

Identify the most important task aligned to your goals each day and finish it first. “By creating less activity, we actually create more urgency. The key is choosing the right activity and making sure it’s implemented to the fullest degree.” -John Kotter

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Celebrate people

Recognizing when things go well is one of the most effective ways to get more of what we want. Publicly recognize a member of your team for a job done right.

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