Happy Business People - Manage Employee PerformanceEmployees are your greatest resource. Without them, business becomes stagnant. However, just as employees are an asset, they can also be detrimental to your company. This is why it’s so important to understand how to work well with your employees and utilize them in the best way possible. To assist you, we’ve put together 5 tips to help you manage employee performance in your business.

Treat Employees as Individuals

Individualize every strategy. Remember, no one technique is designed for every person. An excellent boss comprehends the various styles of the people in their company. If necessary, she tailors any relevant instruction to the individual. For example, one employee may get lost without detailed instructions. Another employee may find elaborate instructions bog them down and keep them from productively doing what they already know.

Other differences might involve communication style. A standoffish or quiet employee may need a bit of time to warm up enough to risk contributing suggestions or feedbacks. Others may just right in and appreciate straightforward conversations. Regardless of the communication style, you can facilitate a conducive environment by being aware and adapting, so good ideas don’t get lost.

It’s also beneficial to tailor supervisory skills to the individual. Some individuals need frequent and consistent check-ins and feedback. In contrast, you’ll find employees who would rather work it independently.  They may flourish on projects that only need finalized authorization or require providing status reports during regular meetings.

Often times, you’ll find that the ability to manage employee performance comes down to simply being able to understand the way your employees work most effectively and communicate.

Set Smart Goals

SMART Goals Graphic-Manage Employee PerformanceFirst and foremost, set realistic and achievable goals. Often I hear the concept of shooting for the stars because even if you miss, you might just hit the moon. Sounds great in theory. However, constantly setting unachievable goals can be frustrating to some people. Setting your works up for failure can be your downfall when trying to manage employee performance.

This doesn’t mean goals need to be easy to accomplish. It’s okay to still stretch your team. Rather than setting unreachable goals, consider setting realistic goals that push your team to excel. That way they not only have the opportunity to beat a challenge but even exceed expectations. Doing so can be a huge win an encourage employees to go even further next time.

Make sure goals are purposeful to employees. Yes, you have company goals. Of course, you want to increase sales, productivity, and other areas that benefit the company. Take a step back and consider the employees from time to time. How can your company goals go beyond the good of the company and benefits employees? For example, you can pair company goals to help employees grow or enhance skills.

Lastly, when establishing goals, be sure that the employee knows and understands the expectations. It’s great to have goals, but if everyone isn’t on the same page, the results may be undesirable. Beyond providing directions for the goals, it’s also helpful (and encouraged) to have a tracking system in place. Tracking the goal includes regular updates and even set milestones. Doing so will help address problems as they arise and early. For more on goal setting, try out this post: What is SMART Goal Setting?

Employee Recognition

Acknowledgment is one way to show employees that you respect and value them and the work they do. The more specific the praise, the more meaningful. For example, patting an employee on the back and saying, “Great job!” is fine. However, saying something akin to “Your presentation on the Murphy account was spot on. You really connected with those clients. You were definitely the tipping point for bringing them onboard.” is so much more effective. It shows what your employee did well and the effect it had.

Verbal acknowledgments aren’t the only way to recognize a job well done. Coffee or lunch on the boss, awards, and bonuses are great one-time shows of appreciation. Meanwhile, advancements, additional responsibilities, and promotions can help recognize the consistent effort and wonderful work an employee does for the company.

Showing appreciation for employees can go a long way. Keep in mind that an effective way to manage employee performance is to set positive examples. It’s meaningful not just for the individual who is recognized, but also for others in the company. Employees are alert to the way you treat other employees. When they see that good work is praised, rewarded, and encouraged, they are more likely to respond positively.

Maintain Expectations

Secretary And Boss Discussing - Manage Employee PerformanceManaging employee performance can be tiring. However, being lax and letting standards slide can be detrimental as a whole. This doesn’t mean you have to micromanage. After all, few employees want you constantly on their case. Rather, set expectations from the beginning and maintain them. Refuse to accept work that isn’t up to standard and make high quality the norm. In the end, you’ll find that employees will begin to police themselves and one another, without your intervention. Let them take pride in delivering their best and that becomes part of your company culture.

Understand that company culture is unique to every business. Everyone comes into the company with their own set of values. It’s up to you, as the owner, to set and maintain the company culture you desire. When new employees come onboard, indoctrinate them into the company rather than leaving it to them to mold the company into their image. Taking the lead will help avoid confusion and conflict while creating cohesion amongst all workers.

But what happens when some employees don’t seem to be on board with the company culture or expectations? Don’t avoid or overlook the issues. Respond sooner rather than later. Remind employees of the guidelines, objectives, responsibilities, and requirements of the job position. This might even be a time to set goals with documented expectations and deadlines.

Knowing how to manage employee performance is one thing, but taking it on is another and not for the faint of heart. You may find you’re not always able to be the good gal who distributes rewards and praise. You might find the need to pull a reprimand out of your purse. As with praise, be specific.

“Ms. Murphy stopped by today. She said she got transferred to an unknown voice mailbox. She took time to come by the office because she didn’t think she was getting anywhere over the phone. Remember, we don’t do blind transfers. We always make sure someone is there to receive the call on the other end before we complete the transfer or offer voice mail. We’re known for excellent customer service and this is one way we show we care.”

Above all, don’t make it personal. Stick with the facts of what happened and reinforce the expectations. And don’t leave out the why. People are more likely to comply if they know the reason they’re doing something.

With that in mind, not everyone will be the right fit for your company, which brings us to the last item.

When to Walk Away

Company of co-workers - Manage Employee PerformanceYou’ve done everything you can to help manage employee performance, but it doesn’t seem like you can get a particular employee to become a team player. This can be one of the most difficult experiences, but you have to know when to walk away. If you’ve spent weeks or even months trying to improve patterns or behaviors without positive results, it’s okay to make the hard choice. Some people just don’t work out, for whatever reason.

Yes, hiring can be expensive. However, keeping on an employee who doesn’t mesh well with your business can drive down productivity and drain the motivation of other employees. Don’t let desperation compel you to keep on an employee, just because he’s a warm body to fill a position.

With that in mind, learn from past mistakes. Just as you wouldn’t want to keep an employee for the sake of having someone fill the position, don’t hire out of desperation. Often it’s better to keep a position unfilled than to hire an individual who won’t be beneficial to your company.

I lived in North Dakota during the oil boom and saw it happen all the time. Employers were desperate for employees and hired whomever would answer the call. Businesses made quick money in the short term, due to high demand and low supply. However, customers remember shoddy service, which can turn a potential long-term customer into a one-time customer.

Here’s the bottom line. Great professionals know when it’s the perfect time to cut ties for the benefit of everybody in the company. If you’ve put in the time needed to take corrective actions and resolves issues, don’t settle for less than your company deserves. Also, don’t forget to document. To protect you and your company, be sure to have a paper trail that outlines the reason for letting an employee go. Remember, it starts with specifics.

Final Thoughts: Manage Employee Performance

Employee performance evaluation - Manage Employee PerformanceFollowing these methods and techniques may not seem difficult. In theory, they’re not. What can be daunting is the consistency it takes. However, laying the groundwork early can save stress in the long run. You’ll find that treating employees as individuals, giving them respect (whether you think they deserve it or not), and setting expectations, you’ll create a company culture that is conducive to business. The time it takes to be consistent is worth the benefits. That’s how you’ll manage employee performance effectively.

One last thing. Though I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Document. Don’t just document the negative, but also the positive. Make employee performance reviews a regular thing. If you don’t have one of your own, I encourage you to check out the resource library we have at Backbone America and grab an example of our performance evaluation form.