The most accomplished line managers have one common denominator that differentiates them from mediocres. They understand the power of performance improvement strategies and how to make them work effectively.
Having the responsibility for supervising other people’s work, front line manager’s job sounds quite cool. In reality though, it is not always the best roles to perform sometimes. The reason I say that is because the people whose jobs they supervise are humans, and human beings have inherent shortcomings. In a work environment, front-line managers are responsible for delivering results regardless of circumstances they find themselves. Although many acknowledge that having such responsibility motivates them to learn and adapt the best performance improvement strategies for the the results they seek, it doesn’t come so cheaply as one might think. The reasons are obvious:
Many employees do not do what they are told. Some act in ways that portray them as competent professionals, when they are not. Many procrastinate, miss deadlines, and worse of all, wait for instructions from their managers. They blame others for their poor performance and become defensive when someone tries helping them out. To say the least, some employees are hard to work with.
As I said eariler, circumstances notwithstanding, front-line managers have a duty to deliver results any way. The question is, how can you deliver incredible results consistently while working under a challenging circumstance? In my experience, the answer is finding a way of making performance improvement strategies work effectively for you. Let me explain with the six points below:
1. Diagnose performance issues
The first step for addressing an employee’s lack of productivity is diagnosing the factors stopping him/her from performing at full capacity. The factors can be anything from lack of clarity of goal, to non-availability of important resources to execute the plan. Until you carefully diagonize and understand the performance issues, the answer you’re seeking might be very far fetched. In practice, issues such as these can be very effectively resolved by having a coaching conversation with the staff.
2. Develop clarity around the goal
Find out the aspect of the job or task that your employee does not understand. Begin by explaining the goal, and clarifying how the expected outcome looks exactly. Sometimes employees procrastinate when they lack confidence in performing the task and delivering the result. Procrastination could arise when your employees feel overwhelmed or have conflicting instructions; so check that neither of these is an issue.
3. Track progress
Once the goal becomes clear, break the steps down into manageable chunks of daily actions. Ensure there is a tracking system in place, to keep your staff focused. Although I called it system, it could be anythiing as simple as a “To Do” listing card or journal that helps them keep track of their actions. Also, Identify the critical paths of the task and communicate it to the employee very clearly. For example, make them aware about any critical milestones on which the project will be reviewed and feedbacks provided.
4. Check for key resources and tools
By now you should have been getting a good idea about the resource requirement for delivering the goal. If not, ask your employee: “How much resources do you need to accomplish this goal, task, or project?” Resources can be anything from the number of people to work on the project, or various tools necessary for executing the plan. Where human resource is an issue, ensure that each member of the team is aligned and mobilized to keeping his or her part of the commitment.
5. Paint a bigger picture
Do you feel that your employees understand how their contributions fit into the bigger objective of your company? Quite often, many front-line managers do not help their employees find meaning or purpose in their roles. If your staff will ever produce at high performance level, you must help them to see how the value they are adding is helping the business succeed or grow. Until your staff see and understand that they are making positive impacts in the company, they may go through each day at work feeling less important. That can influence their performance negatively.
Until your staff see and understand that they are making positive impacts in the company, they may go through each day at work feeling less important.
6. Reward lavishly
If your employees think they are doing enough but you are picky and ungrateful, it is a sign that you are not giving them enough praise. Giving praise is one of the performance improvement strategies you can leverage to accelerate your team’s performance and result. When your employees reach a major milestone, reward them lavishly. Thank them openly, and send short emails message acknowledging their great performance. When the opportunity arises, mention them to your own senior line managers.
Understanding these 6 performance improvement strategies and applying them daily will no doubt accelerate your team’s performance and help them succeed. Always remember that as a front line manager, you have a responsibility to help your employees maximize potential.