Performance Management: The One Secret You Need to Know


There are so many theories, reports, books, models and ideas about how to effectively manage employee performance that it’s sometimes difficult for business owners and managers to ‘see the wood for the trees’. I’m often asked ‘what’s the one thing I need to know?’ Here’s my answer. The secret to effectively performance management is (drum roll please) Clarity. Here’s why;

Reason No. 1 – Getting clear on what you expect from your employees

‘Knowing what’s expected of them’ consistently ranks highly on employee satisfaction surveys. Employees want to know what their manager wants from them – what they have to do in order for their manager to consider them to be a good performer. It’s so important to have focused, ‘adult to adult’ conversations in which you and your employee explore and agree what effective performance looks like for their job. Research also tells us that having clear objectives with effective measures can improve performance by over 30% so if you agree your expectations as performance objectives you can expect not only improved satisfaction from your employees but also improved performance (if you want to know more about performance objectives and how to use them take a look at my free special report ‘Performance Objectives Made Easy‘). In short, your employees can’t give you what they don’t know you want (and if you’re not sure on what you want take a look at Are you clear on what you want from your employees? Get clear on your expectations, and why these are important (see below), and you’re more than half way to being an outstanding and confident manager                

Reason No.2  – Helping your employees to get clear on why they, and their performance, are important to the business

We know from research that employees want to ‘connect their efforts to the mission and purpose of your business’. In short, I guess, they want an answer to the question – ‘why am I doing this?’ It’s important to your employee that they can see the ‘bigger picture’ and where they fit into it. So spend time with them exploring the ‘Why’ of their job – why what they do is so important to the business.

A simple approach is to take each of the performance objectives you a have agreed and explore how achievement of that objective contributes to your businesses success (or how failing to meet the objective would have a negative consequence to the business). Take a look at my post about not helping employees to understand the bigger picture.  

Reason No. 3 – Helping your employees get clear on how they are performing

In the research ‘having clear objectives with effective measures can improve performance by over 30%’ I mentioned at reason 1 above, did you notice the ‘with effective measures’ part? I guess it’s obvious that your employees need clarity on how they are performing against the objectives you have agreed with them. They need to know what’s going well (and ‘appreciation for a job well done’, not surprisingly, ranks highly as an employee motivator in research) and also where they need to make improvements. It’s important then that you and your employees put in place ways that both you and they can measure their performance on an ongoing basis and then take time to review performance by sharing feedback         

Reason No. 4 – Getting clear on what your employees want from you

We know from research that showing a high level of interest and concern for our employee results in higher levels of motivation and performance. One of the most powerful ways to do this is to have a conversation specifically about how to maintain or improve the employee’s current level of job satisfaction. After all, who wouldn’t feel motivated by having a manager who cares about our satisfaction at work and who is happy to spend the time talking to us about something so close to our hearts? Learn the Four Steps to Improving Employee Job Satisfaction here.

Summary – Peformance Management and the secret of clarity 

So many of the difficulties I see business owners, managers and employees experiencing come from, at root cause, a lack of clarity. If there’s one thing you can do to significantly improve not only employee performance but also employee satisfaction and motivation it’s this – get more clarity. 

Would you like to know more about how to improve employee satisfaction and performance?  Would you also like to read about the 5 classic mistakes that could be getting in the way of ‘effective management’ (and what to do about them!)?

Then claim your copy of my special report ‘Boost Your Business Performance through Effective Employee Management’ at


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