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Performance part 1

Desire for change

To improve performance things will need to change and you must be the catalyst.
However change can’t be just for the short term you must be committed.

If you want to improve performance then you must know what level of performance you are expecting.
It’s no good just demanding or expecting a level of performance if you don’t communicate it to your team.
There will be no easy solutions but you must persevere with good techniques in the appropriate situation and according to character of the individual.

The type of performance and the level expected will be subject to the work involved and your own requirements.

Performance levels can be discussed and set at appraisals, during probationary periods, or during a prearranged one to one meeting.

Key areas to consider


If jobs become humdrum and boring performance will go down.
Motivation will cease.
Look for ways to improve interest.
Give the job more to aim for over and above the norm. Sit down and discuss personal goals.
Beware that stretch goals can cause problems as well (see Goal Setting – part 1).

One way to help improve extra performance is to focus on their hurdles and help remove them.


Identify the job outcomes and state the level of good and bad performance.
You could use S.M.A.R.T. targets to help in this area.

If you can’t pin down the level of performance it becomes tricky to control it.
Use systems agreed and developed by the individual to monitor performance.
Whenever possible always get input from the individual involved.

It is not compulsory for people to agree standards and to attempt to meet them.
However, if you have their input for them this is far more likely.

Make sure you are not communicating assumptions deal in facts.
Ascertain that the person completely understands all aspects of the standards expected.

Once you have both contributed to identifying performance levels and how they will be measured only then will you get buy in. Make sure that you don’t decide to measure everything that moves.
Be selective for key areas of the job that reflect success.
That is, the success criteria.

Accountability and responsibility

Few people fully understand the difference between accountability and responsibility.
You can delegate responsibility but not accountability.

Get agreement for accountabilities and write them down.
You can then use this information during an appraisal (see Appraisals – part 1) and link achievements to a reward (see Reward System – part 1) scheme if you wish.

Although they will have responsibility to carry out a task there will be barriers that they will be unable to cross.
Improved performance is encouraged by letting people make their own decisions and developing independence.
However, you must make sure that some boundaries are not crossed inadvertently.

These barriers are the scope of what is done, ‘how far can you go?’
This must be clearly defined and communicated to the person.

In a team define individual roles.

Specific training may be necessary.
You might want to consider training people to cover other job roles by getting them to spend some time in those roles.
By increasing responsibility in the future you are creating opportunities for additional development.

It’s not right to try to cover every eventuality in business by moving responsibilities all of the time.
You will need to consider wider contingency planning as well.

If you provide any training opportunities or people go to conferences and other offsite training try to look for opportunities where any new skills can be used.

When you are accountable there is no one else to blame and you have a pride in your own performance.
If you are just carrying out instructions and orders it is easy to pass the blame upwards to the person giving them.

Knowing the difference between responsibility and accountability will aid motivation for individuals.


Eventually, you will give feedback on the overall performance probably at an appraisal.
Before you can do this everything that you have discussed above must be documented so that you know the expected levels of performance and how they were going to be measured.

This feedback is at task completion, other feedback (see Feedback – part 1) should be happening all the time. A simple compliment given face to face is very powerful.

Keep flexible

Once you have commitment for the standards of performance you will then have to decide what activities they will be involved with and what tasks you can delegate. When goals are set up it is difficult to gauge just show difficult these will be and what circumstances might affect them in the future. Based on this there may be a need to revise goals later on.
This is not an admission of failure but a recognition of change and reality. This approach will be appreciated by the team.
Again aiding motivation.

Walk and talk

Don’t wait for official monthly meetings to find out what is going on. Take the trouble to get out and talk to people.
This is a very powerful tool and should not be underestimated.
It achieves many aspects that good performance positive reinforcement needs.

It allows you to engage people in conversation and connect with them on a social level.
Find out their interests and what really motivates them.
Over a period of time you will gain trust and will be able to get honest opinion on the work environment.
You can ascertain job progress in a friendly informal manner.
By asking what obstacles or other problems exist you can you can be of direct and immediate help.
It creates a good opportunity to pass on information in a relaxed manner.
People can ask you questions without leaving the job situation.
The whole process engenders trust.

If you have asked an individual to carry out a minor task then these opportunities are great to see progress.

There are many elements to improving motivation and the above are some.