Welcome to Part 3 of the Pro Performance series! So if you’ve been reading along all month, by now you will have done an audit of your performance processes, and also discovered what you need to do to improve them.
Now actioning everything from Part 2 will take time, but if you’ve already got those solid foundations in place, or when you are ready for the next steps – here are our tips to take your performance to new heights!
All of these ideas are focused around taking proactive and continuous steps to foster high performance from the start, rather than trying to improve under-performance after the fact (for example as you might in traditional annual performance review). If you can act on these things now, you’ll reap huge long-term rewards!
Naturally, it takes time for new starters to begin performing, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have a focus on performance in the onboarding period. In fact, helping employees perform as quickly as possible not only increases your ROI on new hires but aids retention too.
One in five employees leave an organisation before completing their onboarding period.
Think about it; first impressions are everything. If a new starter is given only menial tasks during their first few weeks, and has no goals to work towards, they can easily become bored and develop a perception that the rest of their tenure will be like this too.
Dedicated team members will want the opportunity to challenge themselves and demonstrate their skills from day one. Besides most new starters will have been hired for particular skills they bring to your organisation. Whilst inexperienced in your business, they also have the advantage of a fresh perspective, which you can leverage by encouraging them to take ownership of their responsibilities.
So how can we action this?
As part of the onboarding process, ensure the new starter’s manager works with them to set up three main goals to work towards. These can be set-up using Goals Management so they will be instantly accessible to the staff member from their first day and they can start tracking their progress.
This helps foster a sense of achievement early on, provides direction, allows them to start fully-utilising their skills, and ensures that each new starter’s time is being maximised from the start, while giving them a better experience, and aiding retention at the same time.
Another tweak in processes that can be used to maximise performance is adding in multiple probation checkpoints into the onboarding process.
Remember those automated check-ins we talked about in Part 2? For new starters, schedule a check-in for both the team member and their manager on the one, three and six month marks to ask how things are tracking and enable leaders to act on any issues early as early as possible.
This is crucial for uncovering things like:
Getting these things sorted in the probation period is crucial for retaining your best talent long term.
The insights from these check-ins can then be used to help managers see where recognition or additional support is needed.
In order for any role to be fulfilled well, it needs to meet not only the needs of your organisation, but also the skills and talents of the person doing it. You need to be prepared to be flexible on aspects of the PD, and this is particularly the case when a new person starts.
Of course, it’s great to start with an outline of the role requirements, particularly through the recruitment process, but what’s important is to have the flexibility that PDs can be easily adapted between the team member and manager as the need and opportunity presents. Such changes allow a team member to pursue new skills which the organisation might need them to explore to achieve a particular strategic objective.
This strategic alignment fits well with a goals-focused approach. In these cases the PD becomes less vital, and instead these goals can be used to guide each person in their role. Moving away from a list of duties and instead focusing on goals helps everyone see how they contribute to the big picture and think strategically about their role – not tactically.
So we’ve looked at getting a Continuous Feedback process in place, but how can we then optimise this?
Capturing the most accurate, timely and insightful feedback from each of your people allows you to ensure they have everything they need to do their best work, and allows the manager to support their goals appropriately and provide guidance if they recognise from their feedback that their focus is drifting away from the strategic objectives.
You can further strengthen feedback by going beyond just the manager and their direct reports’ feedback, but broadening it to cover the full 360 degrees. That is; feedback is gathered from the individual themselves, their manager, their direct reports and their peers to get the whole picture. This information should then be shared with managers and the team members themselves.
This is the first step. In addition to this, think about how feedback is provided back to staff. It should always be proactive (which continuous feedback will allow you to do) and focused around performance improvement (not performance management).
We hope these tips will help you maximise performance in your organisation. Next week we’ll be looking at how we can maintain performance over the long-term.