Every month there are managers reviewing their employee’s performance. At this time, statistics are viewed, metrics are measured and either the manager is happy or disappointed. What follows next is usually the “pep” talk. This is where the manager will tell the employee, “great job, let’s do it again” or “We need you to pick up your numbers.”
In both cases, the employee walks away and has no idea what to do. They go off and plan to work hard and hope that by the end of the next month they are sitting across form a happy manager.
Often I am brought in by a manager and asked to review a team’s performance. I sit and listen to the manager’s woes about how ineffective some of their team is and their stress to find great employees or their frustration that no one works as hard as they do.
Targeting the Root Issue of Employee Performance
Once the manager’s feedback is over, I then begin to focus on what behavior is happening each day from both employees AND the manager. Behavior is what causes results. By targeting the behavior that may be out of line, you can be more effective with training to get better results. Make sure to focus on the behavior of the manager as well, because in many cases, the manager is the one who needs the training to become a better leader for their team.
I say this because here are some expressions I hear from managers are part of our initial conversation.
- They should know how to do this.
- I have told them many times what to do.
- It is not my job to babysit them
- I have my own job to do.
As you can see, all of these comments push the blame to other people. This manager is not looking in the mirror and taking responsibility for their behavior.
How to Improve Employee Performance
What I recommend is doing a complete audit of the processes that employees should be following. This will be helpful for two reasons.
- It will allow you to have a baseline to measure execution against and to see if all employees understand what is expected of them.
- It will allow you to see an overview of all processes to see if a process is missing or that all processes are not aligned for the results that are desired.
Once all of the processes are lined up, it is time to quiz the employees on the processes. They should be able to explain the “What”, “Why” and “How” of these processes. Make note if there are areas that need attention (targeted training). Next monitor the execution of these processes and again take notes for your ongoing training.
If the team executes correctly, give them positive feedback and make sure they understand what behavior they executed so they can repeat it in the future.
When you begin your targeted training, you may have to utilize the 8-step coaching process (follow the link) to get everyone aligned. Once this process is done correctly all employees will be on track for improved performance. The last piece is accountability. The manager has to understand that part of their job is following up every day on how their team is executing.
One of the best tools I have used to help teams improve is a simple spreadsheet listing each team member and the ONE thing I am working with them on for this week. If you try to fix too many things it will not be as effective.
By utilizing a spreadsheet, you are giving yourself a road map as a leader to help move your team to achieve small wins each week and build up momentum. Use this sheet to help demonstrate the wins as well as help you as a manager keep track of what you are working with your employees on. Each week, take a moment to check on the employee’s progress. If they are improving, keep up the training until you feel that they are able to perform correctly on their own.
Choose a new topic to replace the old topic for the following week. As you train on the new topic, never fail to check on the previous topic. Keep holding everyone accountable.
By following this advice and using this simple sheet to track your training, you will never lose track of what you are working on with your team. Your training will be more targeted and you will see the performance of your team consistently improve. A lot of happy faces should be seen all around.