- Angela Cripps
Performance management is getting the best from people and helping them achieve their potential. So this is a continuous process from start to finish of your business and incorporates your over-performers, average performers as well as under-performers.
Too many managers spend their time on under-performers in relation to performance management, but just think of the difference in results if you spent that time with your over performers. Here are four ways you can ensure everyone’s performance is focused on the same goal and targeted to achieving the results you want.
Identify key performance indicators
The performance of the individuals within the business should all be focused towards achieving the company objectives. Therefore, there should be key activities that are monitored over and above others: so for example, if it’s a new company then new business development activities would be a key focus area to ensure its success.
Select relevant KPIs rather than trying to measure everything and anything. The KPIs need to be meaningful to the business and the individuals, so that they know that they are going to make a difference to the future of the business. They also need to be analysed rather than just collated. It’s not figures for figures’ sake… look at what they mean and adjust your activities or training and development accordingly.
Set minimum acceptable standards (MAS)
There needs to be a bottom line. This is in terms of activities, results and also behaviours within the company that everyone adheres to. New starters need to know what they are aiming for at the end of their probationary period and existing employees need to know that they can’t be a maverick in the business, putting the culture in jeopardy – just because they ‘bring in the money’. There’s a bottom line for everyone.
By monitoring the performance of individuals, through organised meetings and making sure that everyone is above the ‘MAS’, then you know your business is safe and you are unlikely to have the peaks and troughs in revenue that occur when they are not in place. It also means that on a weekly / monthly / quarterly / yearly basis, you have an opportunity to either praise or re-focus the individual before it’s too late.
Use stretch targets
Just because there are minimum standards, it doesn’t mean that everyone works to just achieve those. Each individual must have their own targets in terms of activities and results. These stretch targets are what their expected performance is. The MAS are to determine if their work is ‘unacceptable’. This is a different concept to being under target, which is simply unsatisfactory.
Make sure that you have your 12 monthly performance reviews booked in at the start of the year to discuss the results in terms of standards and targets, otherwise it becomes harder and harder to tie down individuals and the meetings slip. Think about communicating every month on progress – this way it becomes a monthly ritual that everyone participates in.
Focus on results, not just activities
More experienced consultants will not be working at the same rate as new consultants. Their hit rate will be higher for less effort. It’s the analysis of the data that highlights this. It’s important that you know the ratios and percentages that you are expecting from your KPIs. This also deals with the issue of taking ‘figures for figures sake’ and never doing anything with them.
A good way to focus on results is to get the consultants to work out their own ratios and percentages. This way they can understand what’s happening in their business and more importantly, where to focus and improve. If an experienced consultant is getting a ratio of 5:1 on CVs to interviews, then clearly there is an issue with either the detail gained in the job spec or their matching. Ideally (for most recruitment sectors) the ratio should be 1.6 to 1.
So, in conclusion, performance management is for everyone, not just under-performers, and should be part of the set-up process of a company, not later when there are more people to manage.
Angela Cripps is founder of Connemara UK, which provides performance development solutions for recruitment companies.