By Perminus Wainaina
Just what is performance anyway? By clearly understanding this, your life as a manager will be so much easier.
Performance is simply the production of valid results.
There may be many other answers to this question, but it all boils down to: can the employee produce the results expected of them?
You can recognize this via certain key performance indicators.
These are the people who get the job done with amazing ease. You never have to chase them up or hound them for results. They just get it done.
Top performers are able to align their results with the overall objectives. They know why their job exists.
Take an office cleaner, for example. If they are good at their job, and they are a top performer, one of their performance characteristics is that they know what a clean office should look like. They will know that the end result of their efforts is to achieve a clean office.
You don’t have to come along after them and point out that they missed the windows, or that the corners are still dirty. They know what the objective is before they get into action — they can envision the end result.
What a joy it is to work with such people. By contrast, how frustrating it is to work with people who cannot see what they are supposed to be achieving.
Non-performers have to be continually directed. You cannot take your attention off their area because you know it will go off the rails if you do. What does this do for your sanity?
This Really Happened
Here’s a true story, and a good example of an office cleaner who did not understand that the end result of their job was a clean office. He thought he was being paid to do certain actions, rather than achieve specific performance results in his work.
So, there he was, mopping the floor. That was the action he was supposed to perform. But, because he had no concept of the end result, he saw no problem with the fact that he was using a dirty mop! Consequently, he was spreading dirt from the mop along the lower edges of a clean wall, which now had ugly dirty marks on it.
As far as the office cleaner was concerned, he had done his job — he had mopped the office (that’s the ACTION). But with no idea of the purpose of the exercise (the RESULT), he had actually produced the opposite of that which was required; he had produced a dirty office instead of a clean office.
And the pity of it was, he could not see what all the fuss was about. “What are you complaining about? I mopped the floor, like you said…” This says a whole lot about his performance characteristics
How do you ensure employees are performing to your expectation?
While top performers don’t need directing, 80% of the staff has to be guided and you do this through a performance system
Good performance system should be:
- Easy to administer.
- Relevant to the job and the employee’s performance.
So, how do you construct a performance and appraisal system that will meet these criteria?
It’s simple — you base it on the actual performance that can be measured.
The very first thing you must do to ensure that your performance appraisal tools will work is to define exactly what result you want this employee to produce
As has been said before, you pay people for the results they achieve. Results are measurable, tangible things. If you think they are not producing a measurable result, what are you paying them for? If they suddenly disappeared, what results would be lacking in your operation?
With some jobs it is very easy, of course, because the result is right there in front of you, for example:
- A salesperson produces sales, or revenue, or some such.
- A production worker produces completed production items.
But how about a secretary or an accountant? You need to look a little harder to establish the valuable results they produce. But you will definitely find them.
Here are the key questions to ask yourself when establishing the results for a particular employee:
- Is it of value to another part of the organisation?
- Is it measurable?
- Is it within the employee’s control to influence the result?
By focusing on the valuable result that the employee is supposed to be producing, you can now talk in terms of facts that can be measured as statistics. You can now set some specific benchmarks and targets against which to measure their performance.
Your performance appraisal tools are now in the realm of numbers that can be measured and compared. There’s no opinion involved with saying, “Well, the target was 25,000 and you only achieved 15,500. That’s not very good.” They can’t argue with that.
- A secretary can argue with an opinion that they “did not give sufficient support”. What’s “sufficient”?
- Or a training manager could attack an opinion that they “did not run good training programs”. What’s “good”?
If you can eliminate the opinion and replace it with measurable statistics, you immediately remove the complexity from the process.
Giving your employees an appraisal based upon an agreed measure of the results they produce can be very powerful.
They know exactly where they stand and there can be no argument about the results when your performance appraisal tools are used this way!
N.B. If you or your team require assistance in setting KPI’s, we have training on Tuesday, 25th February from 9 am to 4.30 pm. This is a one-day practical training on how to set measurable KPI’s and how to implement an effective performance management system. Click here for testimonials from Directors & HR managers on our last training.
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