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Susan Scott in Fierce Conversations says, ‘As a leader you get what you tolerate’. In your business, what do you tolerate?

Do you have an employee who is less than courteous to customers? One who is late or always on the last second? Are their breaks slightly longer than other workers? Do they lack initiative, always waiting to be directed? Or do they leave work unfinished regardless of its importance in terms of the business?

So, in your business how do you make sure employees performance is managed effectively? In some companies, performance management systems are well established. Successful ones are part of an ongoing process of appraisal, where the employee’s strengths and areas for development are regularly discussed. At key points in the year, a formal discussion takes place summarizing an employee’s successes and challenges. Developmental targets are set, supported by training, to upskill staff when facing new challenges. Those promoted to manage others are trained to be successful in their new roles.

In some businesses, performance management systems can be a paper-ticking exercise where an employee’s performance is only considered at a set time each year, boxes ticked, and paperwork filed away. There is little engagement, work practices rarely change. Everyone carries on as before

Additionally, there may be some businesses that have no systems in place, for a variety of reasons. For example, a small business that has grown quickly, without time to implement processes to ensure effective people management.

So, what makes a good system of performance management?

Ongoing dialogue about strengths and areas for development

Set time/s for formal discussion

Agree SMART development targets

Organise training to support the targets especially if managing people

Set time for the next review

However, you may be still left with the dilemma of getting what you tolerate. What do you do when there are aspects of an employee’s performance which is causing you concerns. Wait until the set date, which may be 9 months off?

BE BRAVE and have that challenging conversation. Follow Susan Scotts’s model: Name the issue with which you are unhappy providing an example, describe how you feel about it and clarify what this means for the business. Share how you contribute to this problem and your wish to resolve it. Listen to the employee’s response, then find a way to move forward together.

‘As a leader you get what you tolerate’. What challenging conversation will you have this week?

SCOTT, S. (2002) Fierce Conversations: Achieving success in work and in life, one conversation at a time, Piatkus.

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