Managing performance – some key messages for managers

I have recently delivered two workshops for managers covering all aspects of managing the performance of staff. Here is some of the learning.

There are real positives for you in managing your staff effectively – seeing people growing in confidence  – having a smooth running quality service that meets clients needs – building a great reputation for your service – embracing different talents within your team. So don’t feel daunted as a manager!  And if you are not sure how you should be addressing any problems, there is usually someone who can support you (e.g. a more experienced manager).  You not on your own!

I see performance management as a continuum starting with recruitment. If you have all the other processes in place, hopefully you can avoid using a formal disciplinary procedure, although this is an important process in the continuum.

Getting recruitment right is so important – a job description that accurately reflects the role – a person specification that identifies the skills, knowledge and other attributes that you will be looking for – a selection process that results in the best person for the job! It’s worth giving time at this stage, and involving the right people in the process.

RVA Employment Guide: Recruitment

Once you have found the right person, they will need a structured induction process to enable them to bed down and start contributing to your organisational objectives more quickly and effectively.

The probationary period provides a structured process, normally lasting six months, through which both the employer and the employee can ensure they are suited to each other and the role in question.  During this time you will want to provide regular (and frequent) support and supervision, agreeing objectives and outcomes to be achieved by the end of the probationary period.

RVA Employment Guide: Induction and Probation

You have now confirmed the member of staff in post! On-going support and supervision meetings will be the opportunity for you to:

  • set objectives, give feedback on performance, both constructive for improvement and positive to acknowledge a job well done
  • identify and address support needs to enable them to do their job
  • keep them fully informed about workplace issues, and ensure they they feel able to raise any concerns they have
  • identify development needs to be addressed through training, observing other staff, reading etc.

RVA Employment Guide: Developing Staff and Managing Performance for Quality and Success

The annual appraisal is an opportunity for you and your staff member to review the previous twelve months, celebrate achievements, explore any difficulties in delivering outcomes etc. During this meeting, you will both agree objectives for the following year, on-going training needs and personal aspirations for the role.

If you begin to have concerns about the performance of a member of staff, my recommendation is that you take action as soon as possible.  It is usually easier to address a problem at an early stage, than leave it until the problem has grown or become more entrenched. For example, if someone regularly turns up late for their shift, this can be disruptive for clients and staff and it can lead others not taking timekeeping seriously. 

Managing poor performance involves having clear expectations about the improvements required, the timescales for improvement, the support and training that will be offered etc. 

RVA Employment Guide: Managing and Remedying Poor Performance Effectively

You should have a disciplinary policy and procedure for your organisation, which follows the ACAS Code of Practice.  Should you have to go down a more formal disciplinary route, it is essential that not only you have the policy and procedure, but you follow them. And any one involved in the process, should have training so that they are confident about their role.

With all these steps in place, you will hopefully have a staff team delivering high quality services for your clients, with enthusiasm and flexibility and the motivation  to develop and grow your services for the future.

Good luck!

Sarah Morland

As RVA's Partnership Manager, I seek and develop cross-sector partnership opportunities, facilitating communications between the voluntary sector and statutory agencies. I give advice and support on: planning, developing and promoting services and measuring impact.