The ABCs (and Ds and Es) of Effective Performance Management


Browse the aisles of any library or bookstore and you will encounter many leadership/management books containing complex theories and innovative ideas on transformative leadership; the essential characteristics of an effective leader; and so on. While many of these are interesting and inspirational, they often lack the necessary “how to” when it comes to identifying and addressing workplace dysfunction. Yes, it is important to empower your team; yes, it is critical to collaborate and communicate with your team. That said, even the most forward-thinking, effective and successful leaders (managers, supervisors) cannot “inspire” or “motivate” certain individuals into becoming constructive team players.

What should a leader do when a team member simply and persistently refuses to behave or perform in a manner that supports the overall goals and objectives of the team? And more importantly, what practical (and legally defensible!) steps can a leader take in relation to these individuals in order to protect, inspire and encourage the positive, engaged and high-functioning members of the team?

Over the next few blog entries, I will discuss the basic principles to consider in “managing out” dysfunctional behaviour in an otherwise functional environment. In doing so, I will outline the “alphabet” of proper performance management.

Any step you take in relation to workplace conflict/dysfunction should consistently reflect and include the following components:

A = Proper Assessment of the situation (concern, complaint) through a transparent, comprehensive and objective review/investigation;

B = Comprehensive Building of a Road-Map (i.e. a “Plan”) using the objective findings and conclusions of the Assessment;

C = Respectful Communication regarding Past Concerns and Future Expectations in a timely, clear and consistent manner;

D = Effective Documentation of Past Concerns and Future Expectations both within your “notes/file” and to the individuals in question in a timely, clear and respectful manner; and

E = Measured and progressive Escalation of your response to individuals when they fail to demonstrate a positive change in their behaviour/performance, despite your efforts in “A through D”.

Over the next few weeks, I will elaborate on this effective and practical “alphabet”. I would encourage you to use this guide as a constructive and confidential “checklist”. Are you applying these principles on a consistent and regular basis? If not, start NOW. As I always say “don’t beat yourself up over the past …. but don’t use the past to justify your future.”

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