Financial Data
Updated 29 Sep 2020

The importance of systematically managing your staff’s performance

Measuring and managing staff performance in a fast-moving and digital world enables you to move away from traditional reviews; towards feedback and reward processes that are relevant. 

Deirdre Elphick-Moore, 18 November 2016  Share  0 comments  Print

All the answers to your unique business lifestage questions

Imagine a world where managers take the initiative, are self-motivated and driven to understand the dynamics of performance management rather than following organisational structures (like annual performance reviews) that are ineffective.

Imagine a world where they understand their influence and are not afraid to be different, to accept their role in practicing excellence in the area of people management.

Here are my personal insights, gathered through 20+ years of experience in business:

Measuring performance 

People can only be managed according to pre-agreed and clear performance standards. They cannot be held accountable if expectations are vague or variable. Take time every year to make sure that the Key Performance Areas (KPAs) and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for each team member are accurate and up-to-date. Our world at work changes at a staggering pace, especially in competitive industries like financial services. You need to be responding to that reality. 

Related: Skills development defined

Another reality is that we do not perform our best 100% of the time. Your focus should be on managing high impact behaviours; those actions that will have the biggest effect on the success of your business and the individual. The adage ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’ can be a valuable guide here. Too much analysis can leave employees feeling stifled, and too much feedback can be overwhelming – what behaviours need to change first? 

There will be clients that need to get the best of our attention; projects where we absolutely need to be engaged, presentation where we need to bring our ‘A’ game. Give people a chance to decompress in areas that have little impact. 

Managing through feedback 

Staff -memeber -feedback

The first thing you need to address is the learning culture in your team; are people open to change, do they acknowledge their shortfalls because they see opportunities for personal growth, are mistakes handled by management and peers without blame and backward-thinking comments like ‘could have’ or ‘should have’? 

A pulse check of your current learning culture is a good place to start. If your staff are not open to feedback, start having conversations that demonstrate why ‘feedback is a friend’, how it fosters growth and prevents us from repeating mistakes (which is just embarrassing).

Some people see feedback as a control mechanism; an opportunity to reinforce authority or superiority over others. This, along with poor feedback and an environment where people are not open to feedback is likely to manifest if those giving feedback are insecure or inexperienced.

Check that your managers are equipped with the practical skills required to manage performance, for example: 

  • Objectivity to effectively articulate specific employee behaviours
  • Logic to outline the impact of these behaviours
  • Foresight to make recommendations for improvement
  • Diplomacy to negotiate agreement regarding a way forward.

Related: How to help your team appreciate the benefits of your business’ cultural diversity

With an openness to the learning opportunity that performance management presents, and the management skills to give fair and constructive feedback, you can start to foster an environment where real-time feedback is possible.

There are a number of low-cost, easy-to-implement platforms for real-time feedback:

  • Diligently meet with your team members at least once a week
  • Address performance points (good and bad) in the same week that they occur
  • Give feedback informally; a brief conversation is often all it takes to get the message across and making feedback a formal affair can serve to make more of a situation than is necessary
  • Give feedback on current behaviours only; rehashing old situations will not support your move towards changing current feedback and performance management paradigms
  • Create platforms for peer review; performance messages can sometimes be better received if they come from colleagues we interact with daily.
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About the author

Deirdre Elphick-Moore

Deirdre Elphick-Moore, has an Honours Degree in Psychology and over 10 years of international experience in human capital management at Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. Co-founding The Office Coach in 2009, she now focuses on personal and workplace effectiveness training and development. Her relaxed, engaging style encourages people to learn more, remember more and apply more in their workplaces, as well as inspiring to consistently better themselves in the work place.

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