COMMUNICATION & PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT.
Good communication is key in any business and no more so than when it comes to performance management in a firm. Issues relating to staff members and the performance of their duties arise often when running a business (or a department for that matter). Whether it is timekeeping and attendance issues or failing to complete a task, such issues should be resolved as soon as possible. Good communication skills are key if issues are to be resolved quickly and effectively.
Talk to the person
The first step in resolving almost any employee issue is ostensibly the simplest: talk to the person. It’s remarkable how reluctant many business owners and managers are to initiate such a conversation.
It’s important to communicate honestly, openly and clearly with your employees. Whether it is performance or conduct that is not up to scratch, it’s also a good idea to have such conversations early, rather than letting things fester.
Plan for a successful conversation
Before initiating the above conversation with your problem employee, you should plan it out and write down a few bullet points such as:
- What behaviours are giving cause for concern?
- Do I have specific examples I can quote?
- What are the observed or potential consequences of those behaviours?
- What improvements in behaviour would make me feel confident that the employee has understood my concerns and knows what results I am looking for?
- How shall I respond if the employee becomes emotional, angry or defensive?
- How will I monitor their future behaviour?
- When shall we meet again to discuss whether the improvements have actually taken place?
- What shall I do if they are not forthcoming?
The answers to these questions will give you a robust framework for the discussion.
SETTING EFFECTIVE KPIs.
Setting goals and a strategy for your business is important. However you then need to measure how the business is performing in order to understand if the firm is moving forward and is on track to achieve its goals. As such it is necessary to set Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). However many business owners and managers find this difficult to do and see the establishment of KPIs as a pen-pushing exercise and don’t dedicate time to do this.
KPIs however, form a vital element of the business’s sales strategy, both for individuals and for the team itself. In order to create a shared vision, commitment and firm-wide motivation, it is vital that the KPIs are discussed with and agreed by each member of the team from the outset. KPIs should cover:
- Team targets (i.e. convert 75% of all leads during the first quarter of 2015)
- Individual targets (i.e. 80% of chargeable time billed each month in 2015)
- Key tasks
The nature and specific tasks of your KPIs will depend very much on variations including the market sector and geographical area in which you operate. However, managers must ensure that they follow the SMART principal – that is, ensuring that objectives are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.
Depending on your business, it can be useful to adopt a traffic light approach for each client account, so areas of strength and weakness can be easily and quickly identified. This data can be fed into charts which can also be very useful when preparing KPIs, giving specific objectives and demonstrating how the results have a direct impact on the overall sales and business objectives.
Once set, KPIs should then be reviewed on a regular basis, both with the team as a whole and with individual team members. Any variance in performance can then be identified and flagged appropriately, with remedial actions put in place before any aspect of the traffic light chart turns to amber. Bear in mind that KPIs should always be dynamic. For example, even if a KPI target hasn’t been met, the individual or team performance may still be on course to achieve the overall sales objective, and the KPI target may need to be lowered. Similarly, if a target has been met, then it may need to be increased at intervals, to maintain drive and motivation.