Top Ten Tips on...

Performance Management

23 January 2023
Effective Top Tens - Podcast
Quick, practical tips on a wide range of management and personal development themes.
How to check that performance is truely poor, then identify the causes and address them, avoiding common pitfalls.

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Start at the back

People tend to talk about activities and outputs and outcomes. An activity is simply whatever it is you're doing; the output is what you're meant to deliver as a result of that task or activity; and the outcome is the impact that that is meant to have on usually the customer or a particular group. A lot of people think about it in that way. Start with activity leading to an output, and then delivering an outcome. But in fact, we suggest start at the back, which is start with the outcome. What is the impact that you want to happen? when you work that out, then what outputs do you need in order to deliver that outcome? and in turn, once you've decided that, then what activities do you need to deliver in order to achieve those outputs?


PI - Performance indicator

The next 3 tips are based on a menemonic, PIMST. These 5 letters contain all you need to establish clear performance requirements. PI stands for performance indicators. These are the indicators that determine anybody's performance. So an indicator is a characteristic or a quality within the task that needs to be right in order for the customer to be satisfied. So if you were, for example, buying a car, that's the overall product, but it's a performance indicators within that product, the car that really matter. Its acceleration, its safety rating, its age. And of course it's price. So what actually defines whether a product is a good product or not is whether it performs well in each of those quality areas called performance indicators.


M – Measure

Suppose, for example, that one of the performance indicators in buying a car is fuel economy. Your measure is how many miles it does to the gallon. If you're looking for reliability in a car that would be its performance indicator. So then how do you measure reliability? There are a number of ways you could measure reliability – for example, starts first time, everytime, or its service interval. Measures are important because different measures will produce different ratings and different successes. So we need to know what the measure will be fore each performance indicator.


S & T – Standards & Targets

A standard s the minimum required for that performance to be satisfactory. So again, referring to a fuel economy, how many miles per gallon do you wanted to do as a minimum before you even consider buying that car? And that's the standard, the minimum requirement and the minimum requirement should be in the form of a guarantee, a promise you should be able to meet for any product or service. The target is an ideal. it's an aspiration. It's something to be aimed for. So whereas the standard is a requirement, a target is an intent to deliver at a higher level. It's an aspiration, not an expectation.



This is another acronym, which can be really helpful for establishing the key requirements of any performance, objective or goal. The 5 letters stand for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, andtimeframed. A useful way of remembering them is to think of the opposite. Don't set a vague goal; how can you prove something if you can’t measure it? Any objective that is unrealistic cannot be achieved and will be demotivational. Equally, if it seems irrelevant,motivation will suffer. And if there is notimeframe, then there is no sense of urgency, and the task is likely to drift.



The next 4 tips are all about being good with the brief you give to the individual. Typically people don’t perform well because of four key factors. And this is the third of my mnemonics for this particular set of tips: RKSA. Consider setting the brief for any task around these four letters. The first of those letters is R which stands for resources. Does the individual or group have the resources they need to get it done.



The second letter is K, which stands for knowledge. Does the individual know what's required? is the brief, clear and specific enough? There are two types of knowledge to be clear about : do they know what is required, in enough detail? And do they know why it is required – which will affect their motivation.



The third letter is S and stands for skills. Does the individual have the skills necessary to complete the job at all, or to the right level.



The final letter is A, which stands for attitude. That's very much down to the individual. Every individual owns their own attitude. But of course, if there are problems with resources, knowledge, and skills, then the individual’s attitude is bound to suffer!


Not to challenge is to condone

If you are a manager, and someone in your team is performing poorly, then you have to address it. And not to challenge is to condone - because if you let poor performance continue, then you will seem to be endorsing it. And eventually the person who the spotlight will turn on is not the poor performer, but the person who is managing that poor performer and in effect allowing the poor performance.

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