6 ways to maximise your team’s performance
By Lou Markstrom
Why the days of a performance management structure that relies on formal reviews or appraisals are coming to an end.
Are you being asked to do more with less? Are the demands on your IT organisation increasing but resources are not? Do you want to create a greater sense of teamwork and collaboration?
It may be time to look at how you are managing the performance of your team members. The days of a performance management structure that relies on formal reviews or appraisals are coming to an end.
To maximise performance and achieve the greatest level of productivity from your team, performance management must be looked at as an ongoing orientation and not a task such as a review.
Using your team members to their fullest potential is a result of a structure of communication, feedback, development, and support.
Here is the 6 step process to do this effectively:
1. Do your homework
When you want to drive performance, you need to understand certain things about each individual. What’s their role? What are their goals and objectives, their strengths in achieving them and the challenges they are facing?
You also need to understand who motivates them, what coaching style they respond to best and how to adapt your communication to their personality and create a relationship of trust and respect.
2. Plan for performance
Having clear expectations that the leader and his team member agree upon is critical. A collaborative approach must be taken in creating these objectives.
Setting goals/targets/KPIs and then just cascading them down to individuals is highly ineffective. This must be done in a collaborative approach. Ask what is the level of buy-in and engagement to a goal or objective that is handed to someone with no input?
We all know it will be minimal if not zero. We also need to eliminate subjectivity in these objectives. Expectations must be set in real and tangible terms so that when we come back to evaluate our results later, they are not a matter of opinion.
3. Plan execution
Once the plan is agreed upon and expectations have been set, it is time for that team member to execute and implement the plan. The notion of “plan your work, then work your plan” is the motto here.
It is now time to adapt your management style and communication frequency to your team member. Keep in mind that one of the biggest sources of motivation for individuals is autonomy and when asked about the best managers that they ever work for, most people will say “they held me to very high standards and then let me go to fulfil on them.”
4. Give timely feedback
The desire for autonomy must be balanced with the desire for feedback – most employees crave feedback on how they are doing. Create a communication schedule in conjunction with your team members to allow for sufficient feedback, ensure that your team member receives the support they need and that you have enough communication in return to maintain accountability.
5. Practical and developmental coaching
When proving feedback to your team members, keep in mind that you want to provide both appraisal feedback as well as developmental feedback.
Appraisal feedback is in regard to how they are doing in comparison to the execution and fulfilment of the agreed plan, while developmental feedback is providing coaching to help them grow and develop.
It is future based as opposed to past based and is designed to move someone from where they are today, to where they want to be in the future.
6. Formal review
The final step is the formal review and the rule is there should be no surprises. Everyone should know what is going to be discussed as it would be clear from steps 1-5 above.
It should be just a natural culmination of the above process and the least significant part. If steps 1-5 are done effectively and on an ongoing basis as part of an orientation, you could even eliminate the formal review from your process.
The most common error in driving performance is thinking about it as the task of the performance rather than the ongoing process of setting expectations, communication, feedback, support and coaching.
Lou Markstrom is the co-author of Unleashing the Power of IT: Bringing People, Business, and Technology Together, published by Wiley as part of its CIO series.