Note the title is limited to Staff Performance whereas a broader examination of Staff would involve engagement, induction and orientation processes, where the real journey begins.

So let’s assume your team is set and you want to optimise their performance.

Examine how you go about the following key factors:

  • The business PURPOSE.
    Simon Sinek suggests people are inclined to act in harmony when they get your purpose and it fits with what they expect (or theirs).
  • Your business values.
  • Your leadership style.
  • Are the rules of the organisation simple, clear and consistent?
  • Are the roles and productivity requirements clear?
  • Is the work environment pleasant and safe?
  • Problems are dealt with swiftly.
  • Good performance is recognised.

The working environment generally works above the ‘OARBED’ line.


Staff Management

Effective performance management and development is grounded in clearly articulated principles and is the basis of staff supervision. These include the need for:

  • Regular supervision and consultation of the required productivity.
  • A balanced approach ensuring accountability, support and skill development
  • Mutuality, both worker and manager need the opportunity to offer their assessment of how the work is progressing. Where there are barriers, strategies are agreed on to assist the worker achieve the desired goals
  • Cooperation based on mutual respect and agreed processes
  • Clarity about performance expectations and criteria for assessment
  • Commitment to conduct the process in a supportive and constructive manner.

Managers are responsible for ensuring all staff members have effective supervision and support where they are assisted to identify any barriers to effective performance and develop strategies to manage these issues. The purpose of supervision is to:

  • Ensure that work is being performed at the required standard of productivity
  • Improve job performance
  • Improve the employees’ job satisfaction
  • Develop the employees’ capabilities.

To achieve this, the process needs to ensure staff are held accountable for the outcomes of their position (as per their work plan) but also have access to personal support, skill development and opportunities to take on greater responsibilities.

Assessment and Feedback

Feedback should be commensurate with the need for change. Seriously good or bad performance needs urgent acknowledgment and re-action.

Otherwise the appraisal of performance should be at the end of significant projects or at least 6 monthly. The reason being that you should be introducing goals and discussing their achievement or actions required to bring about their fulfilment.

It is critical the appraisal process is documented and all parties get the opportunity to communicate their position and agreement or disagreement.

Professional Development

It is essential to provide opportunities for professional development. Professional development opportunities can take place as part of staff meetings, in-house training, online courses, attendance at seminars and conferences, continuing education courses and formal tertiary level programs. These needs should be determined and agreed upon annually, as part of the Performance Review. However, there needs to be sufficient flexibility to consider unexpected opportunities as they arise.

Development of soft skills is a critical inclusion in attainment of the personal growth of your team. Eg Public Speaking, Emotional Intelligence etc

An adequate fund for professional development needs to be a discrete component of the organisations’ annual budget.

Rewarding Good Performance

The easiest part of rewarding good performance is recognition although ‘old school’ management tended to focus more of responding to poor performance.

Presentation of small gifts like wine, or movie tickets, travel vouchers etc can involve small expenditures with very positive pay back.

If appropriate cash bonuses can also work so long as they are geared to productivity outcomes.
The usual period of application is a quarter because the payment must be connectable to the performance and any longer and the benefit diminishes.

Today’s business practices are seeing more rewards in the area of flexible working times and locations (from home). The secret of success is simply the acknowledgement of the employee’s contribution being superior.

The Red/ Amber/Green Light system.

Addressing poor performance is challenging, however the ‘light system’ enables you to emulate outstanding business leader’s philosophy of consistency.

In my time in business I have seen only a handful of outstanding people managers. I have worked out they are great because they set standards and when staff behave within the required standards everything is great, but if someone crossed the line – all hell broke loose. Team members knew this and guess what – chose not to cross the line.

The beauty of the ‘light system’ is that it enables self- assessment.

You define the productivity requirements of each role and when the staff member achieves that standard they get ‘the green light’. If they don’t achieve it, they get an amber light, or red in very serious shortfalls. With an amber light the manager discusses the circumstances and offers whatever assistance the staff member needs to get back to Green. If the staff member gets 3 amber lights they get a red light. All parties know that 3 red lights will result in termination.

This system relies upon setting the right standards or KPI’s – in this case productivity. There is no point in setting the bar too high or too low. The bar should be set at the level a normal person would achieve 90% of the time.


None of the above works without effective communication.

Watch out for seagull management (Google it if unsure)

Make sure there are times your door is always open for any matter staff consider important.

Hold a think tank occasionally where it is a free for all about throwing ideas around! Pick any subject and you will be surprised what can come out of it. Here is a couple of worthy subjects

  • What can we do better?
  • How can we provide better service to our clients?
  • What would make working here better fun?
  • ..there’s many more but the sheer benefit of greater team member ownership is palpable once done properly.

Managing your greatest resource can take time and be challenging but follow the above steps and the rewards are breathtaking.


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