HR planning & recruitment + performance management

HR planning & recruitment + performance management

BMHR 430  – Performance Management.
Notes for LO 6 – Diagnose the causes of poor performance and develop a strategic plan to overcome the problem.
NB Use these notes together with Chapter 9 in the text book – Performance Management, Herman Aguinis
Reasons for Poor Performance (Adapted from Managing Performance, Michael Armstrong and Angela Baron)
•    Individual may perform badly because of lack of ability or insufficient motivation but sometimes bad performance may not be the fault of the individual.  Other factors such as a defective system of work, inadequate leadership or guidance and the allocation of inappropriate tasks or placement of individuals in jobs beyond their capabilities can affect performance.
•    Managers can play a major part in reducing performance problems by doing the following:
•    Exercising effective leadership – motivating people, spelling out expectations, encouraging good teamwork
•    Developing systems of work that do not place impossible demands on people
•    Allocating work to people which is within their capacity, subject possibly to additional training
•    Acting as coaches – developing the talents of their staff and recognizing that every occasion when they give someone and instruction or discuss work that has been completed provides an opportunity for learning
•    Using performance management processes to help with all the above activities

Dealing with under-performers
To deal with poor performance it is necessary to establish that there is a problem, diagnose its cause and decide on what needs to be done by the manager or the individual to overcome the problem. This approach involves the following steps:
1.    Identify and agree the problem. Analyze the feedback which has been given through the performance management system. It is important to get agreement from the employee on what the actual problem is – ie. Which objective has not been met. This feedback can be from managers but it could also be from peers, customers etc.  If individuals are aware of their targets and standards and know what performance measures are going to be used they should be able to assess their own performance and if they are motivated and well-trained they may even take their own corrective action.
2.    Establish the reason(s) for the shortfall. It is important that when searching for reasons for the shortfall the manager does not try to attach blame. The aim should be for the manager and the individual jointly to identify the facts that have contributed to the problem.  It is on the basis of this factual analysis that decisions can be made on what to do about it by the individual, the manager or the two of them working together. It is necessary first to identify any causes that are outside the control of the individual.  These would include :
•    external pressures
•     changes in requirements
•     systems faults
•    Inadequate resources (time, finance, equipment etc.)
•    jobs or tasks allocated to people who do not have the necessary experience or attributes
•    inadequate induction and continuation training
•    poor leadership, guidance or support from the manager, team leader or colleagues
Any factors that are within the control of the individual and/or the manager can then be considered.  What must be determined is the extent to which the reason for the problem is that the individual:
•    Has not received adequate support or guidance from the manager
•    Has not fully understood what he or she was expected to do
•    Could not do it – ability
•    Did not know how to do it – skill
•    Would not do it – attitude
3.    Decide and agree on the action required. Action may be taken by the individual, the manager, or both parties. This could include any of the following actions:
•    Take steps to improve skills – joint action by the manager and the individual
•    Change behavior – this is up to individuals as long as they accept that their behavior has to change.  The challenge for managers is that people will not change their behavior simply because they are told to do so.  They can only be helped to understand that certain changes to their behavior could be beneficial not only to the organization but also to themselves.
•    Change attitudes – changing behavior is easier than changing attitudes, which may be deep-rooted; the sequence is therefore to change behavior first, so far as this is possible and allow attitude changes to follow.
•    Manager to provide more support or guidance.
•    Clarify expectations jointly.
•    Develop abilities and skills – defining the steps that individuals may be expected to take steps to develop themselves but also indication how the manager can provide help in the form of coaching, additional experience or training.
•    Redesign the job.
Whatever action is agreed, both parties must understand how they will know that it has succeeded.  Feedback arrangements can be made but individuals should be encouraged to monitor their own performance and take further action as required.
4.    Resource the action. Provide the coaching, training, guidance, experience or facilities required to enable the agreed actions to happen.
5.    Monitor and provide feedback. Both managers and individuals monitor performance, ensure that feedback is provided or obtained and analyzed and agree on any further actions that may be necessary.

Handling performance problems at review meetings
Although the management of performance is a continuous process, formal performance reviews clearly provide a good opportunity to analyze and to reflect on performance problems and to agree solutions.  These discussions will be based on feedback which involves providing constructive criticism or self-assessment.
Criticizing constructively is not something that all managers like doing or do well.
Fletcher (1993) has suggested the following methods of handling criticism:
•    Let  individuals know that their frankness in identifying any shortcomings is appreciated
•    Get individuals to produce their own ideas on remedial action.
•    Provide individuals with reassurance if they mention an aspect of their performance which falls below their own standards but you think is satisfactory.
•    If individuals do not agree that there is a problem, be firm but specific, giving examples of how they are underperforming.
•    Confine comments to weaknesses that can be put right: do not try to alter the individual’s personality.
•    Do not tackle more than two weaknesses in one meeting – there is a limit to how much criticism individuals can take without becoming defensive.

The use of a capability procedure
The positive approach to solving under-performance is by joint analysis and problem-solving and by counseling.  If these and the other ways of managing performance mentioned earlier do not produce the desired improvements, it may be necessary to leave the performance management process and invoke a capability procedure.
Capability procedures exist to deal specifically with performance problems, leaving other disciplinary matters such as absenteeism to be dealt with through a disciplinary procedure.
Example Capability Procedure:
Policy
The company aims are to ensure that performance expectations and standards are defined, performance is monitored and employees are given appropriate feedback, training and support to meet these standards.
Procedure
1.    If a manager/project leader believes that an employee’s performance is not up to standard, an informal discussion will be held with the employee to try to establish the reason and agree on the actions required by the employee to meet the standard over a defined period. Coaching and other support will be offered as required.  If it is agreed that the established standards are not reasonably attainable, they will be reviewed.
2.    If it is established that the performance problems are related to the employee’s personal life, the necessary counseling/support will be provided.
3.    If it is decided that the poor performance emanates from a change in the organization’s standards, those standards will be explained to the employee and help will be offered to obtain conformity with the standards.
4.    If it is apparent that the poor performance constitutes misconduct, the disciplinary procedure will be invoked.
5.    Should the employee show no (or insufficient) improvement over a defined period (weeks/months), a formal interview will be arranged between the employee (together with a representative if so desired).  The aims of this interview will be to:
•    Explain clearly the shortfall between the employee’s performance and the required standard
•    Identify the cause(s) of the unsatisfactory performance and to determine what – if any – remedial treatment (eg. Training, retraining, support, etc) can be given
•    Obtain the employee’s commitment to reaching that standard
•    Set a reasonable period for the employee to reach the standard and agree on a monitoring system during that period, an
•    Tell the employee what will happen if that standard is not met.
The outcome of this interview will be recorded in writing and a copy will be given to the employee.
6.    At the end of the review period a further formal interview will be held, at which time:
•    If the required improvement has been made, the employee will be told of this and encouraged to maintain the improvement
•    If some improvement has been made but the standard has not yet been met, the review period will be extended
•    If there has been no discernible improvement, it will be indicated to the employee that her or she has failed to improve.  Consideration will be given to whether there are alternative vacancies which the employ would be competent to fill.  If there are, the employee will be given the option of accepting such a vacancy or being dismissed.
•    If such vacancies are available, the employee will be given full details of them, in writing before being required to make a decision.
7.    If all the above fails to result in a satisfactory level of performance, the disciplinary procedure will be invoked.

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