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The Risk Of Performance Management

I was at a VECCI briefing last week about Adverse Action and Unfair Dismissal. Given this is a potential outcome of Performance Management and Leadership and is a key area that I assist my clients with, I like to keep on top of what is going on.

The Fair Work Act and Work Place Relations Act changed significantly in 2009 and since then there has been an increase in claims at the respective tribunals. The clear messages for me out of this briefing was for employers to ensure they are on top of their Performance Management, communication processes and ensure they cover their risk.

For small business in particular, this is a significant area of risk, as many do not have a robust or even any sort of Performance Management Framework in place. And that’s not a problem (well not really) until something goes wrong. Then you can be faced with significant concern, both from a financial point of view and also time impact in your business.

I can’t reinforce enough the importance of having a sound Performance Management Framework, that is clearly defined, transparent, actioned consistently and part of everyday business. It contributes positively to culture, performance, engagement and the communication levels within the business.

My background is big business that was unionised. I managed over 130 staff and certainly know first hand the importance of being able to demonstrate how, when and why the performance of employees is managed. Particularly when things go pear shaped. And it happens when you are dealing with people!

When people think of performance management, they often think of end of year performance conversations that will determine a bonus payment or salary increase. This should be the final step in the process for the year – not the process itself.

Performance Management should include the measurement of results but also the measurement of behaviours. Clearly defining what success looks like for an individual both in result outcomes (revenue, sales) and how they are expected to behave in the workplace is imperative. This not only provides clarity for the employee around what is expected of them, it also provides them with the opportunity to meet those expectations and seek assistance where they are falling short. It also enables the leader to manage and reinforce these expectations. It removes the ‘grey areas’ that can exist when managing an employee’s behaviour.

Over December and January many businesses are quieter which is the prime time to be reviewing and implementing your performance framework. If you do not know how or where to start, seek assistance. Distinctive Leadership is only too happy to help you get this in place. But get help from somewhere if you don’t know where to start or do not have the time.

So what should you be considering as part of your Performance Management Framework?

Here are 5 tips to get you thinking:

  1. Develop your Performance Management Framework for results. What do your employees need to achieve and how will it be measured? What do they need to do to achieve these results in terms of activities to get their outcomes? I suggest having performance conversations at least monthly (as a minimum) with your staff, which rolls up to quarterly conversations leading to the end of year conversations. This will ensure you are having at least 12 conversations with your staff, eliminate any ‘surprises’ at years end around performance reducing conflict and allowing employees the opportunity to improve throughout the year.
  2. Ensure this process is transparent and easy to understand. There should be no confusion around this and all parties involved should have a very clear understanding of what is expected.
  3. Develop or reinforce your policy for behavioural expectations in the workplace. How are your employees expected to conduct themselves while in the workplace and when they are representing your business in your marketplace? This should now include a social media policy. Ensure these are spoken to and reinforced at team meetings so this stays top of mind with all people within the business. They should also form part of your performance conversations. It may be a great idea to get your team involved in defining these expectations to increase ‘ownership’.
  4. Take a step away from your business and ask yourself this key question “If I was looking at this for another company or if I was looking at purchasing this company, would I be satisfied there was a transparent process in place to manage performance? Do I understand what the process is?’
  5. Document all conversations held with employees on a performance management issue and have a complete workflow of how performance is managed. You do need to have a paper trail for this process. If you were taken to Fair Work as an example, you will be expected to demonstrate a fair and equitable process. The big question for you at this point in time is can you? If you have people leaders reporting to you, can they also?

There is so much involved under this topic that we can’t cover it all here. The above is a high level generic starting point for what to consider as part of the framework for your business.

If you take anything away from this, please review or start to implement your Performance Management Framework and everything else that comes with that. If you do not know how, contact us here for assistance or there are other organisations that can help you too. Once you have the process in place, it’s done. You then need to execute it consistently and keep it up to date but most of the hard work is done. You won’t regret it. It will minimize your risk and give you peace of mind if something ever happened in your workplace.