SMB HR Basics (Part 4) – Managing for Performance

Growing your team can be daunting.  What do I really need to know? Where do I start?

Seed People Consulting is proud to present a Four Part series of SMB HR Basics to help you set up your business with the core HR requirements (as well as a couple of bonus points!) to ensure you’re compliant, organised and ready to hire, motivate and manage a capable and supported team.

In this Part 3 of 4, our final edition of this series, we will cover the following topics key for employee performance:

  • Managing for Employee performance
  • How to measure performance
  • What if performance isn’t going to plan?

Managing for Performance

Setting your employees up to succeed in their role is a key part of any business manager’s role. Managing for quality employee performance starts from an employee’s very first interaction with your business. During your employee’s first days and weeks on the job, it’s important to take time to set performance expectations clearly and then ensure regular conversations to provide further information and constructive and supportive feedback.

There are some simple items you can provide to clarify your expectations around employee performance such as:

  • Job or Position descriptions
  • Information or policies relating to your company culture and behavioural expectations
  • Regular one-on-one catch ups with employees to discuss their performance, provide feedback and put in place any required improvement initiatives
  • Reward and recognition where employees have achieved or over-achieved on the expectations or requirements of the role
  • Annual (or more frequent) performance targets and measures – these may or may not be incentivised with monetary or other bonus structures too

The key to good performance management is communication. The more information you provide for your employees, and the more ongoing feedback and encouragement you share, the more likely you will be to see a great result from your team members.  In SMBs it is even more critical to engage with your employees’ hearts and minds – you need them to want to work for you and for the betterment of your business and customers, not just clock on and off each day!


How to measure Performance

Depending on the type of business, measuring individual performance can be tricky. It may be possible as an alternative, to measure the performance of the team as a whole or base the measures on the performance of the business itself.

The best place to start is with your business plan – what is it that you’re aiming to achieve overall? Can this be broken down into smaller, time- or outcome-based goals? Are there methods for measuring and reporting on the results of the targets you’ve set?

Prior to setting the measurements for performance, discuss them with your team members; everyone will contribute to the success of the business and you want everyone onboard. By running the measurements and targets past your employees, you’ll build transparency and by consulting with them regarding whether the targets are reasonable and achievable, you’ll gain buy-in so that the employees engage in their progress towards achieving their targets.

Don’t forget to review your results and communicate the results to your team. Set a regular timeframe to do this and make sure you’re implementing improvement initiatives where necessary, as well as celebrating any wins!


What about Poor Performance?

Unfortunately, despite best laid plans and support provided, sometimes underperformance will occur or continue to occur. If you find yourself in this situation, it is important to gather specific evidence and examples of the underperformance and to set a meeting with your employee who may be underperforming.

In preparing for your meeting with your team member, plan to do the following:

  • Clearly communicate your concerns, using specific examples to support your points
  • Give your employee a chance to respond to the issues
  • Agree on a course of action to correct the underperformance including specific action points and measures (both for your employee, as well as support available from you, to help them improve)
  • Document the meeting in writing and provide a copy to the employee
  • Set a follow up meeting at an agreed time to monitor the employee’s performance against the agreed actions.

Some strategies that could be considered to assist an employee to improve their performance are:

  • Further training or learning;
  • Reconfirmation of expectations (either clarifying responsibilities of a role through a Position Description, or clarifying behavioural expectations with a Code of Conduct or similar)
  • A formalised ‘Performance Improvement Plan’ with set timeframes, targets and actions over an agreed period of time;
  • A verbal or written warning;
  • A modification of duties (where appropriate).

Remember to document your discussions!  We strongly encourage you to work alongside your employee and give them sufficient opportunity and support to improve. Your objective is to help the employee to succeed, termination should only be considered as a very last resort, and preferably after consultation with an HR professional or your Industry/Employer body. Not only is it a better ‘people’ outcome, but it costs significant time and resources to employ and train someone new!


As always, there is more information to be digested regarding team and individual performance in your business.  The Seed HR Hub has some excellent resources to help you to proactively and capably manage performance in your business; visit our website to find out more.


This was the last in our Four Part series on HR Basics for SMBs!  Subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date with our future blogs and hope to have the opportunity to work with you in the future.



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