Performance Management: 5 Ways to Motivate your Managers

performance managementPerformance Management: The Challenge for Managers

I’ve worked with hundreds of managers, including team leaders and supervisors, and many of those managers were, by their own admission, reluctant to really engage with performance management. Of course on a day by day basis they do manage people – they answer questions, allocate work, go to management meetings, and hold some team briefings. But what they often don’t do is apply a focused and structured approach to motivating their staff to high performance by managing their performance.

In theory, managers know they should be managing performance, that they should be agreeing objectives, monitoring and reviewing performance and using the review or appraisal system. They know they should be having dynamic discussions with their staff about their performance. But clearly there’s an obvious difference between knowing you should do something and actually doing it. And when managers don’t manage, the business suffers and so do their staff. So what’s the answer?

Here are five ways to motivate your managers to manage performance:

1. Help managers to understand why performance management is important to the business
Do your managers need help in understanding the value of managing performance? Do they need to understand why effective performance management is a critical commercial issue and how effective performance management impacts business success? If you can help your managers to understand the importance to the business they then gain the confidence that there will be some real business benefit derived from their efforts. And then they see the point.

2. Help managers understand why performance management is important to their staff
Do your managers know that research shows that what people seem to want, and want quite badly, is to be well managed? That they want clarity on what is expected of them and feedback which is motivational? Much of what ‘well managed’ means is effective performance management. The manager’s role in the satisfaction and the engagement of their staff can’t be overstated but often needs to be explained.

3. Help managers to embrace their right to manage performance
Frequently the managers I work with seem to feel the need to gain permission to undertake probably the most important part of their role – managing performance. They clearly know there are expectations of them as managers but they don’t feel they have somehow earned the right to manage. Do your managers need to understand the rights they have to manage? Do they know what those rights look like in practice?

4. Give managers the tools and techniques they need to manage performance
Do your managers have access to a range of tools and techniques which can make the seemingly complex much, much simpler? How can we expect managers to know, for example, that there is a simple way to give feedback about even the most ‘difficult’ performance issue so that the issue can be understood and accepted by the staff member? Managers just do not have the time to work these processes out for themselves so they either waste a lot of time (and staff good will) on ‘trial and error’ or they just give up.

5. Ensure that managing performance is a top priority for your managers
Do managers have ‘managing performance’ listed in their job description, their job objectives or anywhere else? I have heard hundreds of managers tell me that there is nothing written down or agreed that describes their responsibilities as a performance manager. So why would a manager dedicate time and effort to an activity for which they are not held accountable, for which there is no reward, which appears to be just about the lowest priority of the business? How can organisations expect their managers to undertake the complex work of managing their staff’s performance if:
a) the manager does not know what being an effective performance manager looks like in practice in their organisation
b) the manager is not held accountable for the effective performance management of their staff – it is not seen as an integral part of their job but something to be done when all of the ‘real work’ has been completed
c) they are not acknowledged or rewarded for effective performance management?

Performance Management: In summary

It’s all about developing the ‘will’ and the ‘skill’. Helping managers to understand the importance of effective performance management in motivating their staff to high performance, helping them develop the skills and then holding them accountable for applying those skills in practice

Do the managers in your business need some help with the ‘will’ and the ‘skill’?  Why not take a look at The 10 Minute Management Toolkit’ – the flexible, cost effective and time effective way to help managers learn how to motivate their staff to high performance. Read about the videos and how to access your trial video session HERE

Prefer to read? Then take a look at my range of e-books HERE

4 Responses to Performance Management: 5 Ways to Motivate your Managers

  1. Lovely, simple, practical stuff that gets missed, far too often!

    The “performance management” part really caught my attention. In a non-professional capacity (as a school governor), I’m responsible for the performance management of the head. In my first meeting (not with the head, but with the school improvement partner) there seemed to be a great deal of surprise that (a) I wanted to look at the objectives that were set in the previous review, and that (b) I wanted to understand how the head had performed versus those objectives…

    I guess the obvious is easy to overlook…

  2. joan says:

    Thanks Simon. It’s amazing how many problems can be prevented by getting the ‘simple, practical stuff’ in place – especially the clarity that comes from the staff members understanding of what is expected of them! I really do think managers undervalue the positive impact effective performance management has on the motivation and engagement of their staff. People want to be managed – and managed well. Cheers Joan

  3. It’s also vital to ensure that your managers do their relationship building all the time. They need to know – and be known by – their people intimately.

    Then performance management stops becoming a circus, but more an extension of what both knew abo9ut each other anyway.

    If there are any surprises at formal performance evaluations, then the manager is doing it wrong – it should already have come out in the informal conversations they do all the time.


  4. joan says:

    Thanks Martin. I absolutely agree. Managing performance is an ongoing, collaborative activity that builds great relationships between managers and staff members – relationships based on clarity and mutual feedback (of the objective, motivational and useful kind)
    Let’s keep trying to help managers move away from the ‘circus’ of the annual, once a year only, performance appraisal!

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