Performance Improvement

1. Define the Problem

  • First, it needs to be determined if an employee needs improvement of their performance or if their performance is satisfactory for the benefit of the company.
  • Next, it needs to be determined if the problem is performance or behavior related.
    • Performance related would be apparent if employee does not show mastery at their skill/task required for the job.
    • Behavior related would be when an employee is able to perform required tasks, but creates distraction in their work environment.
  • A clear statement needs to be given on what the performance problem is and documentation to support the assessment.
  • Example:
    • Jane Doe often gets distracted by chatting with clients and co-workers, which makes some projects fall behind since they have lost priority.
    • John Doe, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to work well with others. John is new and might be a little shy.
  • 2. Define Duties or Behaviors to be Improved

  • What aspects of performance are required?
    • Technical skills, job duties, and job performance (to set priorities, to communicate, and to learn skills).
  • What skills need improved?
  • What skills need to be changed that the employee already has?
  • What behavior needs to be modified?
  • Example:
    • Even though it is good to have a friendly relationship with clients to ensure customer satisfaction, Jane Doe’s behavior needs to be modified so she can get more done.
    • John Doe needs to improve his communication skills so that he can communicate progress on projects with his coworkers.
  • 3. Establish Priorities

  • Is the duty high, medium, or low priority?
    • Though it may be easy to accomplish all of the low priority tasks, it may not be significant enough to establish performance improvement.
  • How do job duties relate to each other and what are the consequences if an error occurs with these duties?
  • How frequently are duties performed?
  • Example:
    • Jane Doe’s talkative behavior is high priority since it is affecting daily duties and making clients upset with having to wait for services they need.
    • John Doe’s lack of communication is a priority because his line of work in maintenance is a team effort.
  • 4. Identify Standards

  • Standards should be reasonable.
  • Standards should be directly applicable to the employees job and not go beyond their job description.
  • Standards should also be attainable.
    • Unattainable standards will only negatively impact job performance because the employee will have learned hopelessness and give up on improving performance.
  • Example:
    • A standard can be set to limit the amount of time Jane Doe should spend chatting with others so that unnecessary conversations do not interfere with her work as much and she can be aware of how much time she spends chatting.
    • John Doe should have a goal to be more involved and encouraged to have more discussion instead of just completing the minimum work required separating himself from others.
  • 5. Establish Short-and Long-range Goals

  • A specific timetable should be given for the employee to achieve their performance improvement.
    • This can include steps built for the employee to accomplish and build new habits.
  • Timetables to reach goals should be flexible and within reason.
    • Exception should be made if there was not enough allowed to accomplish the goal.
    • A goal that was accomplished early for short-term can be an indication that there should be more expectations for long-term goals.
  • Example:
    • By the end of the week, it is expected that Jane Doe will be able to wrap up a conversation at the end of the job duties needed for the client and move on to the next client.
    • John Doe is encouraged to make more friendly relationships and join an inclusion committee so that he feels more comfortable speaking and sharing ideas.
  • 6. Develop an Action Plan

  • Supervisor and employee must agree on how to achieve the goals set forth.
    • The employee needs to understand what to do and how to do it.
  • It should be clearly noted where additional training will be needed, and how that training can be provided.
  • Also, there should be clarification on how the supervisor can help and assist the employee in achieving goals.
  • Example:
    • Jane Doe’s supervisor gives her tips on how to be polite and wrap up a conversation so that Jane can continue to other clients.
    • John Doe’s supervisor assigns a mentor to John so that the can work one on one together achieving the goal of being more involved.
  • 7. Establish Periodic Reviews

  • Both employee and supervisor need to take part in monitoring progress.
  • Prepare scheduled meetings to keep up on feedback on performance improvement.
    • Meeting discussion should be written down briefly so that it can be referenced later for the main topics covered and any modifications to the plan.
  • Example:
    • The supervisor checks in with Jane Doe and John Doe occasionally to just ask how the plan is going, addresses any concerns that they might have, and encourages them to keep up the positive efforts.
  • 8. Evaluate Performance

  • Measure actual performance and compare to the goals that were given.
    • Were expectations met or exceeded?
    • Were goals not met? Why?
  • Example:
    • Jane Doe is able to politely end interaction with clients and coworkers when duties are completed so that she can move on to another task.
    • Now that John Doe has been able to get to know his coworkers, he has opened up and is no longer shy.
  • 9. Create Performance Improvement Plan File for Employee

  • A file should be created to have all documents concerning job performance, minutes from meetings during the action period of the improvement plan, and other notes made by management.
  • A file should be created to have all documents concerning job performance, minutes from meetings during the action period of the improvement plan, and other notes made by management.
  • 10. Put Performance Improvement Plan in Writing

  • Make sure that things are listed plain, simply, and clearly.
  • Use specific examples and references when describing problems and detailing periodic reviews.
  • Use an easy to use format such as a table or list.
  • Questions, Concerns, Assistance

    Steve Sager

    Director of Human Resources, Airborne Global Solutions

    Phone: 937-366-2830


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