How to Manage Performance and Inspire a Highly Motivated Team

When we start to think about all the processes in our business, it’s natural to focus on operational processes such as getting sales or delivering the best service. What often gets pushed aside initially is our people processes. We need good people in our business so they can run our systems. Without the combination of people, process, mindset, knowledge and tools working simultaneously, we’re in for a bumpy ride. In this article, let’s take a deep dive into how we can best manage and motivate our people.

Performance Management

Managing people consolidates your efforts of hiring the right people making sure that your people continue to perform as you need them to and keeps them engaged. Managing allows you to measure and improve performance.

Formal performance reviews are often perceived negatively. For the manager, their thoughts may go to the time when the employee was late, or the customer complained. The employee initially thinks that they have done something wrong, and this causes unnecessary stress. Performance evaluations are positive in many ways but primarily to inspire, develop and motivate.

Performance evaluations are positive in many ways but primarily to inspire, develop and motivate.

How to Manage Performance and Inspire a Highly

Motivated Team

Performance reviews are an opportunity to review an individuals performance in a more formal setting. To get the best outcomes, regular ongoing feedback outside of the review meeting should be a consistent habit. Informal feedback can be as simple as checking in now and then with a quick “How is everything going?”

Your performance management process measures and continually improves the performance of your team; it is the difference between an average team and a dream team who are highly engaged, high performing and, importantly, happy.

Your people want feedback; fundamentally, they want to do a good job. Giving feedback is the best way to help and support someone to improve; it also has the added benefit of helping you improve by being on the receiving end of feedback. Generally, it is not something we do well. Especially when it comes to bad feedback, many people chose to ignore rather than address the situation. Think about your style of giving feedback, are you someone who shies away and hopes the situation will improve, do you jump to conclusions and rant and rave, or do you consider ways to solve the issue constructively with the best possible outcome?

There is no avoiding feedback in business if you want your team to keep up a certain standard and recognise them for their achievements. Think about feedback in this way; if you give someone a job, wouldn’t they want to know how they did, was their performance better than expected, or do they need to improve?

“Feedback is the breakfast of champions.”

Ken Blanchard – The One Minute Manager

Types of Feedback

The best feedback that you can give is appreciative and constructive feedback. That doesn’t mean to say that you shouldn’t point out something negative; it means that you need to explain what needs to happen to get it right next time. Your people need to know what they need to do to improve; in some cases, it may be obvious, but at other times you may need to support them in explaining what you expect from them. Negative feedback without constructive support could leave them feeling demoralised and lead to bigger issues later on.

Where performance evaluations are more formal and cover a lot of different areas of their job, feedback should be given straight away or as close to the event as possible to have an impact. Incorporate feedback as part of your business processes and Operational Guidelines.

For example, “We are committed to giving and receiving feedback to help every team member improve their performance.” Get this right, and you will always have a highly engaged and performing team.

Appreciative feedback is what we all crave, and when we receive it, it makes us feel good. To make an even bigger impact with appreciative feedback is to give it publicly. Public recognition not only makes the individual feel great, but it also shows the rest of the team that you care and what you want to be repeated.

Constructive feedback is the feedback that is useful; it explains the impact of something not done to the standard and how best to ensure that it’s done differently next time. Feedback needs to be specific; it needs to either provide instruction on how to improve or support the individual to work it out for themselves. If you allow the person to work out what they need to do, then make sure that you follow up so that you are both on the same page when it comes to achieving the same outcome. Avoid giving constructive feedback in front of others so they don’t feel intimidated or embarrassed. Mostly, your people want to do the best they can and often need your support to point them in the right direction; this keeps them motivated and determined to get it right.

How to Manage Performance and Inspire a Highly Motivated Team

3 Step Process for Giving Feedback

  1. Identify what the person/team did or didn’t do
  2. What impact did their performance has on you, the team, the customer or the business?
  3. Recognise good behaviour or course correct the bad behaviour

Here is an example:

Appreciative Feedback A customer walks into the pool shop. Gary serves the customer. “Gary, I just noticed how you approached the customer, and I want to say “well done”. I like how you asked the customer what they were looking for, and you showed them the type of pump that would do the job; you did a great job of listening to their needs, and I saw that the customer was confident with their purchase. That is great work. Keep it up.”

Constructive Feedback “Gary, I noticed that you approached the customer and you did the right thing by asking what they were looking for, but I noticed that when you showed them the selection of pool pumps, they had a look of confusion on their face and ended up not purchasing. In this case, confusion led to no sale. We want the customer to have a great experience and leave the store with a solution. Next time I want you to ask more questions so that you can be confident in recommending the right product”.

Alternatively, you could have asked Gary what he thought he could do better next time and supported him in correcting.

The Performance Review

If you regularly provide feedback, then your formal performance reviews will be to formally recognise good performance and identify areas for improvement and put some development action steps in place.

These reviews should never be perceived as stressful, confrontational or have surprises sprung upon them. With regular feedback, there should be no surprises as to where the individual stands.
Performance reviews are about self-development, motivation and continuous improvement. If, on the other hand, you have failed to give any feedback and have not corrected your behaviour, then the team member will most likely fear the performance review and possibly become defensive.

The Performance Review Process

How to manage performance
Performance Management Process Map Review Form How to Manage Performance and Inspire a Highly Motivated Team

Step 1- Preparation

  • Decide on the frequency of your reviews; this will depend on your business. Generally, most reviews are conducted at the end of a probationary period and then six monthly.
  • Be clear on your Direction, Purpose and Values and your Operating Guidelines and have these documented. These documents form the foundation of your business by defining your purpose and how you operate as a business.
  • Understand the goals of the business for the next year to three years and the milestones to getting there.
  • Have set the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for the individual, so you have something to measure performance against.
  • Know the standards and behaviour that you want; these are your behavioural performance indicators.
  • Provide a Preparation for an Assessment form
Performance Management Process Map Review Form How to Manage Performance and Inspire a Highly Motivated Team

Step 2 – The Performance Review Form

The assessment tool – the Performance Review Form is broken down into three sections:

The Business Assessment
The Time/Task Management & Personal Organisation Assessment
The Team Contribution Assessment

The example shown is a general form; use it as a guideline to build your own and add/remove sections as appropriate. You may also need different versions for different roles. You might also want to add more specific individual KPIs or have them separated from the general form. More specific KPIs could be something like the number of sales you expect them to close in a particular time frame or the number of boxes packaged. For data-driven KPIs, it’s best to keep these accessible in a spreadsheet or table that is updated by the individual and management.

Let’s dive deeper into each section of the form.

Performance Management Process Map Review Form How to Manage Performance and Inspire a Highly Motivated Team

The Business Assessment
This section assesses how the individual’s behaviour contributes to the business and how they maintain the business standards and follow processes and procedures.

The Time/Task Management & Personal Organisation Assessment
This section identifies how they manage their time, their tasks and projects and how they achieve goals and reach deadlines. It will highlight if they are managing their workload and fulfilling their individual KPIs.

Team Contribution Assessment
In this section, the focus is on how they perform as a team member. Are they good at communication? Do they demonstrate their values and support others in the team? Does their behaviour contribute to or hinder the performance of the team?

Step 3 – Introducing the Performance Review to the Team

If this is the first time you have conducted reviews, it’s important to explain the benefits clearly so that negative perceptions don’t get a chance to creep in. The best way to convey this is to have a team meeting where you go through the benefits and emphasise that this process is an opportunity for them to grow and develop as it is for management to evaluate their performance. By explaining how the reviews will be conducted and by whom, your team are fully prepared and can get the best outcome.

Once the performance reviews become established, all that is required is a reminder a week or two before you plan to conduct the reviews. Set your review dates in your calendar and set a reminder in advance to notify the team along with the preparation form. Set the standard by clearing your schedule and sticking to the day and time of the review. When it’s time to conduct the review, have a private room set aside and don’t allow any interruptions.

The Performance Review is a two-way opportunity to talk openly and remove any negative perception by explaining the benefits.

Step 4 – Conducting the Performance Review

Allow enough time to go through every section of the PD form and any other issues you need to discuss. You don’t want to rush the meeting, but you also must make sure that you stick to the schedule so you can get through all the reviews and not have to reschedule. Ask each team member to arrive 5 mins early so that you can start the review on time. Have some structure to the meeting but also allow for free discussion; it helps if the team member has come prepared with some questions and issues to discuss.

It can be helpful to have another person present to keep notes so that the person conducting the review can stay present. It’s very important that notes are taken so they can be recorded in the employment records and any agreements can be tracked. If you promised in the review that you would send them on a training course, there must be a process to ensure that this happens. The best way to have clarity on what was agreed to is to provide a copy of the performance review with a summary of the points discussed, who is responsible for what and the timelines for this to happen. Both parties should sign the Performance Review Form if you want to add another layer of formality. The quickest way for your people to lose faith is if you fail to follow through on promises. It’s also critical that you have a record and you follow up on the steps that the individual has agreed to in the case of performance improvement.

At the end of the review, make it clear what you expect and when the next review will happen.

Step 5 – Follow Through

Someone has to take responsibility to follow through, whether it is a check-in with the individual at specific timeframes or actioning something that was agreed on. This person may be the reviewer or a department manager. Whoever it is, has to take ownership; otherwise, the whole exercise will have been a waste of time.

Following through on agreements is crucial to the success of the Performance Review.

How to Manage Performance and Inspire a Highly Motivated Team

Rewards and Recognition

You don’t have to come up with an elaborate scheme to recognise and reward great performance unless it is genuinely something that warrants a big song and dance. Simply just showing your appreciation with regular feedback is enough. The occasional “thank you’ or “well done” goes a long way as long as it is consistent and genuine.

For more public recognition, there is a myriad of ideas that you can mix up from time to time. Rewards don’t need to involve money or gifts. You can single out an individual, or you can make the reward applicable to the entire team if it was a team effort and everyone equally contributed to the result. Here are some examples of ways that you can reward your team:

  • Take them out to lunch
  • Buy a coffee and a sweet treat
  • Splash out on a team activity day, such as golf or bowling
  • Mention the team or individual in the company newsletter or on the company intranet
  • Post an “Employee of the Month” poster on the wall in a public area of the workplace
  • Give them time off or permission to leave early on their birthday or their kid’s birthday
  • Ask them to help train someone else who may need help and guidance
  • Give them additional responsibilities that help them develop in their career
  • Present them with a trophy or gift to commemorate something they did or a work anniversary

Some rewards may be linked to their KPIs. These are usually monetary and agreed to at the time of employment. Whatever scheme you decided on, make sure you follow through to keep the momentum.

In Summary

  • Make it a habit of catching your team doing a good job and praise as appropriate. When you notice something hasn’t met the standard, take the person aside privately and address the problem without delay.
  • Keep a running log of what’s working and what’s not with each team member so that when the time comes for the formal performance review, you’ll be prepared.
  • Lead by example and explain the importance of the performance reviews and make sure they happen and don’t get pushed aside.
  • Performance reviews go both ways. Allow your team to give you feedback and listen to them.
  • Use the review to encourage the team member to think for themselves by asking questions rather than telling them what they should do. The goal is to get them to understand the impact of their behaviour and suggest solutions rather than problems.
  • Follow through on whatever was uncovered in the review meeting and any actions that were agreed on.
  • Be consistent with rewards and recognition, whether they are informal or formal.
  • Rewards can be as simple as saying thank you and noticing them. The key is to keep it simple, personal and consistent.

Now you have the process for performance management, what next? I suggest you look at the process you are currently running and find ways you can improve, using some of the examples that I have highlighted. Here is a quick summary of your next steps:

  1. Review your existing performance management process and make changes in consultation with your team
  2. Document the steps, and use the workflow example as your guide
  3. Communicate the new process to your team, remembering to keep it positive
  4. Make a conscious effort to give feedback and keep notes on individuals in preparation for the reviews
  5. Set a date for your reviews and send out calendar invites
  6. Rinse and repeat in 6 months

Performance reviews are one of many processes in your HR department, including recruitment, induction and training, each having a major impact on your people and business success. I’ll be covering some of these processes in depth in future articles.

Having systems in place not only increases the value of your business and your team but also reduces your stress and increases your confidence and clarity.

If you are excited to grow your business and haven’t got a lot of processes documented and out of your head, you can rest assured that you don’t need to do it all yourself.

Let’s have a chat and talk about how systemising will help you grow your business and give you back some time.


business systemisation, Office Systems, organisation, productivity

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