Achieving Peak Performance

When we perform an internal scan and assessment in assisting construction firms, one of our steps is examination of personnel to evaluate skills and proper fit.  In this process, we are also looking for the degree to which performance management is used and part of the culture.  Unfortunately, in most companies we find little performance management and feedback as part of their culture, yet we hear the frustration with managers, supervisors and other employees.

Inevitably, one of the comments we hear sounds like this, “Steve is a nice guy, but he doesn’t perform very well and should have been let go years ago.  Of course, we can’t let him go now because we don’t have anyone to replace him.”  Based on this response, we proceed with follow up questions such as, “Why do you say this?”, “What is the performance issue?” or “Have you coached Tom on what you expect?”.  

While many can quickly answer our first question around performance issues, their response regarding coaching is usually, “Well, not exactly. I have mentioned things to him, but he should know.  He has been here for over 10 years.”  

This scenario albeit different people plays out every day in firms that lack managers and supervisors trained and able to carry out performance management principles.  Tom may or may not be able to perform his job to the right standards.  He may need to be moved into a different position.  He may even need to be replaced in the company.  These decisions are yet to be determined.

Here’s what we do know.  Steve deserves a manager trained in performance management techniques.  A manage or supervisor who is committed to a process of actions of coaching and feedback that sets the framework for his success.  

But what are the steps to performance management required to assist Steve?

The following pyramid demonstrates the common steps associated with performance management that are critical to improving a person’s performance.

Performance Management Pyramid

performance pyramid.png

© NextLevelContractor LLC

Note that each step of the process is critical and entails a number of activities that must be completed and customized to each company and individual.   In later posts, I will articulate more on each of these steps in more detail.  For now, I want to take a high-level view of the process and encourage you to examine the flow required for the process to produce the end result (peak performance).

Here are the steps as shown in the model above:

  1.  Define the job and responsibilities (clear and simple job description)
  2.  Establishing standards and expectations for each role of the job (KPI’s)
  3.  Provide the job training, tools, and resources (technical, interpersonal, customer, managerial, etc)
  4.  Tie personal rewards to job performance (communicate how job aligns with company mission)
  5.  Formal and informal performance review (ongoing two-way discussion)
  6.  Coaching and Feedback (regular communication on improving skills)
  7.  Verify capacity (ability to perform the job based on output and personal discussion)

As shown in the model, each performance management step builds upon the previous one.  However, the process is continual, not linear meaning that you often go back and forth between steps especially when new roles and expectations are established.

Let’s return back to Steve and understand the value of performance management as it relates to him.  Steve may in fact be a great employee with the right structure and coaching.  He along with every employee in your company needs and deserves a roadmap that will help guide them to peak performance.  Use of the phrase, “they should know” by a supervisor demonstrates a lack of understanding of the importance of managing and accountability.  Supervisors and managers trained in the use of performance management can expect a high level of performance, teamwork and improved satisfaction when they spend the time to set the expectations for job performance and then hold everyone accountable.

  • Does your company embrace accountability and learning as part of your culture?  
  • Do you have managers trained in how to give and receive feedback?  
  • Do you have clear job roles and standards that clearly communicate your expectations to employees?

Every major survey today lists that potential employees want a learning, training, and feedback environment.  An environment where they can grow in their skills and career path and a supervisor that can coach and mentor.  That is the key to attracting, motivating and retaining top talent today.  

Performance management is a best practice that embraces all of these components.  Now is the perfect time to establish a strategic initiative for 2019 that integrates performance management.  Everyone benefits and achieves better results.  Finally, an initiative that has a real return on investment!

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