Improving Employee Performance : Is it them, or is it me?

employee performanceImproving Employee Performance  

I often coach business owners and managers in improving employee performance. Usually there is an area of employee performance – most often a behavioural element – that the manager finds unacceptable. It might be the way the employee communicates (or doesn’t), they way they organise their work (or not), they way the manage their time (or not!)

Of course most managers recognise that employees have different ways and styles of communicating, organising their work, managing their time and so on. And they have no problem with that at all. Sometimes though these ‘differences’ start to irritate the manager and they start (in the managers mind) to become a real problem. It’s at this point where a manager will often ask me the question:

Improving Employee Performance: A Key Question  

‘Is it them, or is it me?’

Let me give you an example

The way my employee works is starting to drive me totally mad. He’s so disorganised. His desk is a mess. His diary is indecipherable. I’ve no idea if he knows what his priorities are. It’s all a total shambles. 

 
The trouble is, I know I’m the opposite. I like structure, diaries, and neatness. Some people would call me a bit obsessive. 
 
So, the reason I haven’t talked to my employee about his work organisation (or lack of it)is that I’m not sure if there really is a problem or if I’m making a mountain out of a molehill?
 

How to work out: Is it them or is it me?

The real question here is: 
 
Is there actually a problem with employee performance that I need to deal with or is it just a difference in style?
 
The first question I ask the manager is: what are the results and consequences – to the business – of the employee’s actions?

(Read more on my Actions>Results>Consequences model here
 
So, what are the results and consequences of the employee:
 
Having a desk covered in paper
Having a diary you cannot read or understand?
 
(You’ll notice I’ve left out ‘disorganised ’and ‘total shambles’ and ‘messy’. Why? Because these terms are not factual – they are judgements, opinions and assumptions. This means they are not objective. Read more on why terms like this don’t work when seeking to improve employee performance at The Secret to Giving Constructive Criticism
 

Possible Results and Consequences (the key to improving employee performance)  

Let’s look at some possible results and consequences  
 
Desk covered in paper
 
RESULT
 
I tried to find an important document yesterday (X) but was unable to locate it on your desk 
 
CONSEQUENCE
 
I was unable to answer a simple question from a client (Y). That was not a satisfactory level of client service
 
Or
 
RESULT
 
I noticed yesterday that it took you 10 minutes to find the AB report because you had to look through the papers on your desk
 
CONSEQUENCE
 
Not an efficient use of your time
 
Having a diary I cannot read
 
RESULT
 
I tried to book a client meeting for you yesterday but could not read your diary to see when you were available
 
CONSEQUENCE
 
I had to tell the client I would get back to them – not a satisfactory level of client service
 

Improving Employee Performance: The Simple Principle   

The simple principle here is this. If there are negative consequences to the business as a result of the way the employee behaves then yes – there is an employee performance problem and yes – you should deal with it 
 
If the results and consequences are something on the lines of ‘well there’s no real consequence to the business but it just drives me mad’ then I’d say something on the lines of
 
Much as I respect your feelings, and much as I want you to be totally happy at work, and much as I can sympathise when other people don’t work in exactly the way you do (and you think they should) is it really worth worrying about something that doesn’t negatively impact the business?   
 
My view is, if there is no negative business consequence then there is no performance problem
 

Summary – Performance Management is about Improving Employee Performance  

I’ve coached and trained many managers who have spent a vast amount of time and effort trying to deal with ‘performance problems’ that weren’t performance problems at all but simply differences in working style. To avoid making this mistake yourself (not that you would of course!) simply remember to ask yourself the question;

What are the business consequences?

 
Get more ideas on how you can effectively manage your employee’s performance by grabbing a free copy of my special report ‘Boost Your Business Performance through Effective Employee Management’  HERE  

 

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