Making performance improvement stick.
You sit down with Bill to discuss his performance. Again. You talk at length about what you both need to feel satisfied with the work he's doing. Perhaps you discuss some workplace adjustments to help motivate him, perhaps you offer coaching in some aspect of his job. And you clearly outline your expectations for improvement in his performance.
You both leave the meeting feeling positive, and Bill understands what he needs to do. You head back to your office, confident that, this time, you'll get a good result.
But a few weeks go by, and you haven't seen any improvement in Bill's performance. He just can't seem to follow through and make the improvements you discussed. Before you throw in the towel or take a disciplinary route, what more can you do?
Conducting a performance interview and providing feedback are only the start – the "front end" tasks of performance management. However, the middle and back ends of this process are just as critical.
It's not enough to simply tell Bill what you expect him to do, and then place the sole responsibility for follow-through on his shoulders. Performance management takes more of a team approach – the person who's doing the work needs to feel supported and encouraged for the duration of the process, just as he or she needs to feel personally held to account for the outcome.
One of the most effective ways of doing this is with a performance agreement. This agreement defines accountability for specific personal and organizational goals. It defines the individual's expectations. It establishes and agree results-oriented goals that are aligned with the overall objective you want to achieve. And it concludes with the individual's formal, signed commitment to the agreement.
When establishing performance expectations, the overall objective is to come to an agreement that supports your organization's strategy. For individual performance goals, the objective is real, measurable improvement so that the person is in a position to help move the company forward.
Performance agreements must clearly state agreed-upon objectives and how these will be measured. Document these things to help you avoid future disagreements about exactly what you expected the person to accomplish.
Without an agreement founded on the organization's objectives, you may have to rely on defending your directives with "Because I'm the boss." This will probably do nothing to build trust and respect with the person whose performance you're trying to improve. However, with formal agreements in place, managing and leading your staff can become more objective, and simpler.
These are some of the many benefits you can achieve by using performance agreements:
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