Have you streamlined and automated your performance process and want to take it to the next level? In this post, we’re focusing on taking proactive and continuous steps to foster high performance from the start, rather than trying to improve under-performance after the fact (for example as you might in traditional annual performance reviews). If you can act on these things now, you’ll reap huge long-term rewards!
If you haven’t been following along in our series, be sure to track back and take a look at the first posts
- Part 1: How to audit your performance processes
- Part 2: How to improve your performance processes
- Part 3: How to take your performance processes to the next level
FREE DOWNLOAD: Performance review template
Kickstart high performance from day one
Naturally, it takes time for new starters to begin performing, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have a focus on performance in the onboarding period. In fact, helping employees perform as quickly as possible not only increases your ROI on new hires but aids retention too.
One in five employees leave an organization before completing their onboarding period.
Think about it; first impressions are everything. If a new starter is given only menial tasks during their first few weeks, and has no goals to work towards, they can easily become bored and develop a perception that the rest of their tenure will be like this too.
Dedicated team members will want the opportunity to challenge themselves and demonstrate their skills from day one.
Besides, most new starters will have been hired for particular skills they bring to your organization. While inexperienced in your business, they also have the advantage of a fresh perspective, which you can leverage by encouraging them to take ownership of their responsibilities.
So how can we action this?
As part of the onboarding process, ensure the new starter’s manager works with them to set up three main goals to work towards. These can be set-up using goals management so they will be instantly accessible to the staff member from their first day and they can start tracking their progress.
This helps foster a sense of achievement early on, provides direction, allows them to start fully utilizing their skills, and ensures that each new starter’s time is being maximized from the start, while giving them a better experience, and aiding retention at the same time.
Use probation check-ins
Another tweak in processes that can be used to maximize performance is adding in multiple probation checkpoints into the onboarding process.
Remember those automated continuous feedback check-ins we talked about in our post on improving your performance process? For new starters, schedule a check-in for both the team member and their manager on the one, three and six-month marks to ask how things are tracking and enable leaders to act on any issues early as early as possible.
This is crucial for uncovering things like:
- Do new staff have all the resources they need?
- Are settling in okay?
- Are they experiencing any roadblocks?
- Are they feeling empowered to take ownership of their responsibilities?
- Are there any misunderstandings about where their position fits into where the organization is going?
Getting these things sorted in the probation period is crucial for retaining your best talent long term.
The insights from these check-ins can then be used to help managers see where recognition or additional support is needed.
Rethink role design
In order for any role to be fulfilled well, it needs to meet not only the needs of your organization, but also the skills and talents of the person doing it. You need to be prepared to be flexible on aspects of the PD, and this is particularly the case when a new person starts.
Of course, it’s great to start with an outline of the role requirements, particularly through the recruitment process, but what’s important is to have the flexibility that PDs can be easily adapted between the team member and manager as the need and opportunity presents. Such changes allow a team member to pursue new skills which the organization might need them to explore to achieve a particular strategic objective.
This strategic alignment fits well with a goals-focused approach. In these cases the PD becomes less vital, and instead these goals can be used to guide each person in their role. Moving away from a list of duties and instead focusing on goals helps everyone see how they contribute to the big picture and think strategically about their role – not tactically.
Give and receive better feedback
So we’ve looked at the importance of continuous feedback and getting a process in place, but how can we then optimize this?
Capturing the most accurate, timely and insightful feedback from each of your people through continuous performance management allows you to ensure they have everything they need to do their best work, and allows the manager to support their goals appropriately and provide guidance if they recognize from their feedback that their focus is drifting away from the strategic objectives.
You can further strengthen feedback by going beyond just the manager and their direct reports’ feedback, but broadening it to cover the full 360 degrees. That is; feedback is gathered from the individual themselves, their manager, their direct reports and their peers to get the whole picture. This information should then be shared with managers and the team members themselves.
This is the first step. In addition to this, think about how feedback is provided back to staff. It should always be proactive (which continuous feedback will allow you to do) and focused around performance improvement (not performance management).
We hope these tips will help you maximize performance in your organization. Check out Part 4 to find out how you can maintain performance over the long-term.