PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT IN SIX STEPS Sometimes people do not by dfhercbml

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									                          PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT IN SIX STEPS

Sometimes people do not achieve the results expected. This can be annoying. In many organisations
the standard technique for handling this situation is known colloquially as “a bollocking”. The manager
seeks to remedy the problem by making the person feel guilty, or just wants to vent their feelings of
anger and frustration.

Beware of this approach. Most people who have screwed up feel guilty enough already. A further
dose of bad feelings is only going to generate resentment. Resentful staff can be very inventive.

There are, in fact, only three reasons why a person does not achieve the expected results:

       1. They don’t know how to.
       2. They don’t want to.
       3. They want to, and know how to, but something prevents them.

The purpose of this interaction is to identify which of these reasons applies and to rectify the problem.

Bear in mind, before you set out on this route, that one potential outcome of the performance-
management (or behaviour-management, see next section) process is a disciplinary procedure or
even dismissal. You have to decide before you start whether the problem is one that you can live
with, or one that you must do something about.

However, dismissals are quite rare, and the intention is to resolve the problem long before it gets
close to discipline. People vary as to how far they need to be taken before they recognise and resolve
their problems.

Treat this as an opportunity for problem-solving, not for allocating blame. Often, this type of
discussion is your best method of finding out how people work, how they interact with each other, and
what motivates or de-motivates them.

       1. Describe specifically the problem (documented evidence, not feelings)
       2. Probe for causes. Note answers. Summarise to check completeness and
       understanding.
       3. Ask the person for help to solve the problem.
       4. Ask for and note possible solutions. Evaluate suggestions.
       5. Decide and note specific actions. Set timings.
       6. Set date and time for next meeting.




1. Describe specifically the problem (documented evidence, not feelings)

At the beginning you know that something has gone wrong, but not necessarily the reason. Simply
stating what the problem is, gives the person the message that this is a problem-solving session, not
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a blame session, and will make them more positive in suggesting remedies.

Deal only with the problem, not the person. Do not belittle the person. Do not assume that poor
performance is due to incompetence or laziness.

It is important to be specific about the detail of the problem.
General statements of dissatisfaction will only prompt the other person to start asking questions. They
then have control of the interaction.

Compare:

“I’m not happy about the way you are doing these reports.”
“Why? What’s wrong with them?

“I am concerned that your last two reports have not included details on the current spend for the
project.”


2. Probe for causes. Note answers. Summarise to check completeness and understanding.

It is important at this stage simply to generate a full list of causes; not to start analysing them, or
worse, disputing them.

However, if you think that there is a need for more detail, use further probing questions to elicit this.

Phrases like these are useful, and set the right tone:

“How do you mean...?”
“What impact does that have...?”
“How many times did you try...?”
"What do you think is the reason this is happening?"

Do bear in mind that while most people are reluctant to tell their manager an outright lie, many people
distort the truth in some way.

Don’t worry. The strange thing about this process is that it still works even when the person is not
giving the right information.

If they omit telling you the real reason for what is happening, it is because they know the real reason
and don’t want to tell you because they think they can work it out without your involvement.

The fact that you are writing down their answers will tend to keep this to a minimum (it is difficult to
keep a coherent fiction running when somebody is taking notes and asking probing questions).

However, the point of this exercise is not to prove them a liar, it is to establish their accountability for
resolving the performance problem.
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(Very occasionally you may encounter a bizarre situation in which you know that the other person has
identified a spurious cause of the problem, and they know that you know. Just keep going with the
process. Don’t worry about the truth. They will either sort it out privately, or they will come clean at a
later stage.)

When you believe that this step has brought out all the information you need, simply check with the
other person before you go to step 3.

“So, am I right in saying that you’ve had problems getting the figures in time from Ralph, even though
you have sent him an email two days in advance.


3. Ask the person for help to solve the problem.

You may know how to solve the problem; or think you do. The quickest way forward would be to
simply tell the person what to do.

The consequences of doing that are:
      1. The person loses confidence in their own ability.
      2. They don’t think it’s the right solution, so they will make sure it fails.
      3. You increase their tendency to look to you as a problem-solver, thus         increasing your
      workload.

The point of this exercise is to increase self-confidence and empowerment, so that the person
resolves the problem themselves.

So a phrase such as:

"I need your help to solve this problem,” boosts their self-esteem and maximises their likelihood of
coming up with some good suggestions, some of which you may not have thought of.


4. Ask for and note possible solutions. Evaluate suggestions.

Through your earlier use of probing questions you will know what the person has tried so far. You can
steer this a little:

“So, if Ralph is not picking up his emails on time, can you think of any other way of getting the data
you need?”

With prompting, the person is likely to come up with a range of possible solutions
Leave the evaluating until all possible solutions have come out.

If the employee can not suggest anything, use phrases like "Have you considered...?"

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Write down all the suggested solutions as they come. Don’t start discussing them until you have
elicited a reasonable set of options. Writing them down gives you a chance to think and evaluate.

Some of the solutions suggested may involve passing tasks back to you. Gently pass them back
unless they genuinely are beyond the ability of the person.

Use self-esteem to help this along:

“I think you’re right that it needs a face to face meeting with Ralph to clarify what you need. I want you
to organise that.”

5. Decide and note specific actions. Set timings.

This is where you set the parameters for performance and gain the person’s commitment.

"So you need to phone Ralph tomorrow to find out his schedule. Will you do that?”

Seek specific commitment from the employee.

Do not accept "I will try", because this really means "I'm warning you now that I will probably fail"


6. Set date and time for next meeting.

"Thanks for your help. I'd like us to meet again at 9.00 on Friday, to see how you are getting on".

This set of steps need not take very long, and is infinitely more effective at identifying and resolving
problems than the bullying/blaming approach, which only demoralises staff.


Exercise:

On the last two occasions when one of your staff has undertaken a task for you they gave an
estimated completion time. Both times the person took twice as long to complete the task as
they said they would need.

You now have a task to delegate which must have a guaranteed deadline, yet to be
determined.

Using this set of steps, write out the questions and phrases you would use to find out what is
causing the performance problem and how you would get the person to resolve it. Identify
areas where you could use the general people-management skills to help the process along.

Alternatively/additionally, think back to any performance related interaction you have had with
your manager. How closely did it resemble this format? How did you feel?

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