New Manager Challenge: Knowing How and When to Manage Performance

This is a cartoon of a boss and employee on the golf course with very different ideas of whether or not to sink the putt

The cartoon illustrates a classic new manager situation – a lack of communication between a boss and employee.

The worker assumes he should miss the putt in order to make his boss look good. The boss plans to evaluate the employee in a positive way only if he makes the putt. As a new manager, don’t let this kind of performance confusion block your employees from performing at their peak.

Creating a high performance environment to get the most out of your employees is perhaps your most critical challenge as a new manager. Individual performance improvement leads to improved team performance. And improved team performance is your new goal as a new manager.

The dreaded annual performance review is no longer in vogue…and with good reason. A once yearly check-in on an employee’s job performance is not very effective. When you have to think back on 12 or even 6 months of a worker’s job execution, you risk omitting important coaching points…both positive and negative. An issue may have arisen, remain unresolved and continue to impede your employee’s full engagement in the job. Or an opportunity for learning on-the-job will have been missed. Either way you lose your influence as a manager over improving a team member’s performance in a timely fashion.

This is not to say that there should not be some formalized process for reviewing employees on the quality of their work. You need some sort of rating system that can let people know where they stand, help guide merit pay increases and promotions, and create targeted development plans. It is important to have a structure in place that holds managers accountable for engaging and developing their employees. But we maintain that both the employee and the manager benefit from ongoing, less structured, more frequent performance conversations in addition to the more formal performance discussion.

Our local school district experimented recently with eliminating number grades in favor of general comments on student behavior, effort and progress and they issued these report cards only twice during the academic year. You’d have thought that teachers would be relieved not to have to assign specific grades, that students would be relieved of the performance pressure to get high grades, and that parents would be less concerned about where their student fit in the class as long as they were learning, behaving appropriately and trying their best. But not one of these three stakeholders was satisfied.

  • Teachers surprisingly found it easier to give grades than original, motivating and appropriate comments
  • Students wanted to know where they stood vis-s-vis their classmates and statewide performance standards
  • Parents preferred to have a more standard assessment of their children’s accomplishments and progress

The point is that, in a corporate setting as in an academic environment, regular, meaningful, accurate, timely, fair and transparent performance exposure that lets people know where they stand and helps to both motivate and manage higher performance.

The Bottom Line
The most effective new managers set clear performance expectations. The most effective new managers consistently hold weekly or bi-weekly one-hour sessions with individual team members to review goals, discuss performance, address issues and stay on the same page. Frequent feedback and attention from caring managers help employees stay focused, motivated and on target. Monitor progress regularly, give praise where it’s due and coach for improvement when needed. This is how you can lead toward high performance.

You will know you are on the right path when employees:

• Trust the way their performance is measured
• Receive frequent and balanced feedback
• Understand what constitutes both success and failure
• Know how their goals align with team and company goals

Benchmark your performance management practices to see where you stand

Download performance management whitepaper – Top 5 Warning Signs That Your Performance Environment May Be in Trouble

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Mitch Mandich
CEO

Edify

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Susan Anderson
Workforce Planning Bureau

The Next Generation Management Development courses have helped me communicate more effectively with my peers and teammates. By utilizing effective communication techniques such as clarifying and confirming, and asking open ended questions, I have been able to clarify and understand information in situations where I would have otherwise asked limited questions and made false assumptions.

Robert Breckner
Firmware Engineering Manager

For our go to training outsourcing partner, LSA provides exactly what we want. As always, they deliver outstanding work!

Elizabeth Siebert
Director, Organizational Excellence & Development

Intuit

We signed up with LSA early on–as their 22nd Member! Since then, our organization’s learning needs have increased and decreased and increased again with the changing times. The beauty of the LSA business model is its flexibility…when we needed to supplement our own internal resources, we used LSA services knowing that we could depend on the outstanding quality of the leadership development and management training programs they provide.

Margie Bunting
HR Manager

Working with LSA Global has proven to be extremely valuable and worthwhile. LSA understands our business, has deep expertise in content areas, and tailors the programs to deliver great results. The facilitator was extremely knowledgeable about Working Globally with India and her energy and passion made the session interesting, fun, and enjoyable for all that attended. The participants walked away extremely pleased along with highly useful practices and tools. I would highly recommend LSA Global to any company that has partners or offices in India.

Glenn McGillivray
Human Resources Business Partner

Intuit

LSA provided top notch solutions right when and how we needed them. They exceeded my expectations from a speed, quality, and cost standpoint. I recommend them to anyone looking for a true business partner in the Learning and Development arena. The breadth and depth of their expertise has helped us hit tight deadlines across multiple projects.

Fortune 500 Financial Services Company
Director of Infrastructure & Technology

I am very impressed with the quality of work and talent. LSA did a great job of listening to my needs and providing the exact management training program expertise I needed to get the job done.

Don Pryor
Director, Business Planning & Analysis

“We turned to LSA to help us custom design and deliver a leadership and management development curriculum to help drive performance. They have done an excellent job diagnosing the business situation, designing an approach that fits our culture, and delivering a first class solution.”

Sally Buchannan
VP Human Resources

We partnered with LSA to pilot a customized behavioral interviewing program to help ensure that we continue to hire the best and brightest as we continue to rapidly scale. LSA’s ability to understand our business and our unique culture combined with their desire to ensure that the best practices framework truly fits our performance environment and is highly adopted by our people is a real blessing. Most other firms want to just ‘give you training.’ Not LSA, they are focused on helping me hit our hiring forecasts and attract A players.

Jennifer Remling
Director of Global Recruiting

AKQA

We recently contacted LSA Global to assist us with a unique training request. We gave LSA a very short deadline and LSA custom designed a training program to meet our exact requirements within the limited time allotted to them. We found their facilitator to be well versed in the subject matter and very credible; the design provided practical and valuable information to our team of managers. I highly recommend LSA Global, particularly in the area of management training.

Julaine K. Souza
Senior Vice President

We recently partnered with LSA Global to offer our Supervisors and Managers a customized two-day management training program. Everyone who attended said it was by far the best management training program they had ever attended. The content was rich and highly interactive. The case studies were relevant. Each participant walked away from the training much better equipped to lead their teams.

Jeff Coon
Director of Human Resources

LSA custom designed a Management Development program that is absolutely “on target” for our technical managers. Their facilitator has done a superb job delivering the material in a way that is fast paced, highly interactive, and fun. She presents practical solutions to the people situations that our managers face every day. I regard LSA as an excellent partner that understands our business needs and a virtual member of our HR department.

Judith Onton
Vice President Human Resources

Congratulations on your pro-activity in establishing this program and developing such an effective New Employee Orientation course.

Farhat Ali
President and Chief Executive Office

Fujitsu

I had been working with LSA for many years with my prior company. Currently, I’m with a company who hadn’t done much basic management skills training. After identifying and presenting a program recently, our managers are excited and talking in the halls about the great experience. LSA saves us time in delivering the right training for our needs.

Phyllis Moracco
HR Director

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