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Managing performance

Written By : (Continued from last week). 2. Job Descriptions As soon as possible, after joining the company, a JD should be agreed with the newcomer. However, in reality too
06 Jun 2009 12:00

Written By : (Continued from last week). 2. Job Descriptions
As soon as possible, after joining the company, a JD should be agreed with the newcomer. However, in reality too many JD’s aren’t even published let alone issued and too many more languish forgotten in desk drawers or personal files.
To what extent, therefore, do JD’s help people understand what you want them to do, and to what standards?
A JD apart from stating roles and responsibilities should include standards of performance, normally identified within 6 to 8 Key Result Areas (KRA). The relationship between the JD, standards of performance and targets should be understood by the newcomer.
A standard of performance is a continuing yardstick covering about half a dozen key areas which will not change.
It should judge whether acceptable performance is being achieved – not a virtuous hope, not perfection, but a realistic outcome with room for improvement.
Standards of performance should include measurements such as:
l Frequency
l Averages
l Percentages
l Time limits.
And be measurable in terms of quality, quantity and cost. They should be reviewed annually or if the job changes.
Standards of performance may be easier to set in ‘line’ jobs such as production or sales, this does not mean they cannot (or should not) be set in other types of work. They may require the cooperation from colleagues in other department to be fully realized.
In an ideal world, standards of performance are probably arrived at initially by employees drafting their own ideas and bringing these to the manager for discussion and agreement.
Examples of standards of performance

l A HR manager, under the key result area, “external relations”
‘All applications for employment are acknowledged by post within two days, and candidates are informed of the latest situation at intervals of not more than three weeks.’
l An office manager under the Key Result Area, staff communication’:

‘An office meeting is held at least once every ten working days at which aims, achievements and action points are discussed and agreed upon. The meeting will have an agenda and will be minuted.’

3. Managing Improvement -performance review
The performance management process doesn’t end with the JD. You also need to review objectively the performance of the job-holder against what you agreed with him or her in the first place.
Does your organization have mechanisms for ensuring that people know how well they are getting on-both individually, and as a team? To what extent do these mechanisms actually work?
The aim of the review of appraisal system is to improve performance by:
l Assessing performance in the current job
l Identifying potential for development.

The performance Review
Good practice should include:
l Clear agreement about how the interview will be conducted.
l Manager and employee should independently prepare for the interview by reviewing the individual’s performance over the agreed time period.
l During the interview, the employee should explain how he or she feels they are getting on- his or her achievements and strengths, or weaknesses and areas for improvement.
l Agreement should be reached on performance in relation to baseline standards and targets/objectives (the emphasis should be on positive achievement)
l Plans of action should be negotiated, and agreed upon.
l Arrangement set for further monitoring

4. Setting Targets
The outcome of any successful performance review should be that the job-holder knows what specifically has to be achieved for performance to be improved. A vital part of this process is what has become known as ‘setting targets’.
Do managers really set targets tailored to the individual? Do these targets develop the individual as well as meet the needs of the organization?
Targets should be set by an individual’s manager to:
l Bring performance up to an acceptable standard in the first place.
l Return it to an acceptable level if performance has fallen below standard.
l Stretch the individual beyond the basic standard acceptable standard.

As with standards of performance, targets need to be measurable in terms of quality, quantity, time and cost. But they are short-term and are likely to be set in relation to specific projects or responsibilities, or to encourage better performance on existing work.
Again, ideally, they are arrived at by the employee drafting out his or her own ideas and then bringing these to the manager for discussion.

“By the end of next month, increase the number of first-time customer visits from 20 to 25 per week.”

5. High Fliers
Managing performance is about defining standards, reviewing achievements and setting targets in order to bridge the gap between what is being achieved and what is required. But what should you do with the individual who exceeds all expectations?
High fliers may represent only a small number of your workplace; say 5% or even less. But they are an important 5% who will be the innovators, achievers and entrepreneurs. They will invariably be young, ambitious and will quickly become impatient with what they see as a bureaucratic system which holds them back. They’ll want:
l Recognition
l Reward/better pay
l Some idea of their career path
l Careful, tactful encouragement.
You’ll want to plan for their accommodation in a system that wasn’t designed for them. You’ll have to ensure that your pay and rewards system are sufficiently flexible. And you will have to be prepared to explain openly and apparent inconsistencies. It all comes back to ensuring that there is a sound performance management system.
Most people have an innate sense of fairness, so once they know and accept what the basic requirements and standards are, they’ll recognize that someone who consistently exceeds them deserves some kind of exceptional treatment.
Remember: Not everyone can be a high flier. Don’t cheat with the performance management system. If you do, it will become corrupt and need replacing. I have known of systems which looked like this:
Category A: Outstanding
Category B: Average
Category C: Below average
Category D: Unacceptable
Nobody was ever allowed to be unacceptable.
Unacceptable people were marked C
Below average people were marked B
Average people were frequently marked A
Outstanding people invariable left because they didn’t want to be classified alongside people who struggled to keep pace with them.

By Sunila karan
Counsellor/Personal Development Trainer For stress management/counseling & communication training. Contact Ph: 9996807

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