Employees value knowing what is expected of them and how they are performing against expectations. In situations where they are not meeting the required standards it at least gives them an opportunity to improve. Team morale can suffer if one or more employees do not pull their weight, so you need to ensure that all team members stay on track to deliver great results.
- Make sure each employee knows what their job is, the performance standards expected, and how they fit in to the rest of the team. Give them feedback on their performance, to enable them to deliver to those expectations.
- Communicate regularly with your team about what is happening on farm now, what is coming up and your expectations. Discuss priorities so that people know what is important. Team meetings are a good forum to do this.
- Provide feedback as often as possible and at an appropriate time. Be aware of other team members being around and the person's state of mind. If they are upset or frustrated it might be better to wait until they are ready to listen.
- Provide specific feedback so people really understand what you are saying. Saying "thanks, great job" is nice, saying "thanks, you strapped that foot really well, I think that cow will be walking much better in a couple of days" provides information and shows true appreciation.
- Manage performance informally every day all year round.
- Take 15 minutes once a month to discuss how the job is going with each employee. Don't allow distractions.
- Hold more formal 3 or 6 monthly reviews. These are often put in the "too hard" or "no time" category, but taking the time to communicate will make your employee feel valued.
- Discuss with employees improvements that could be made to role responsibilities, organisation and communication.
- Address serious problems with an employee who is not performing to the required standard by having at least fortnightly discussions.
Quick Questions & Answers
How do I carry out performance reviews?
The key steps to ensuring performance reviews happen are: setting aside the time and then committing to the process.
Informal quarterly performance reviews are used to ensure that employees know what is expected of them, to give them the tools and advice to help them achieve those expectations, and to see how they are progressing.
More formal performance reviews should be held every six months. These reviews should also measure performance against targets. Employees should be given very clear and concise feedback about where they are at and where they need to go.
How often should I tell my staff they're doing a good job?
Probably every hour is too much and every month is too little, so somewhere between this, but it will depend on the person.
If you work side-by-side then simply thanking them at the end of each day, or task, is appropriate and likely to be appreciated. Remember to also give more formal feedback, ideally at your monthly catch-up or otherwise at another time you have scheduled. Employees also want "proper" recognition - tell them how well they are doing and why.
If you don't see your employee regularly during the day, then you need to make time for a weekly or fortnightly chat, during which you can say thanks and let them know they are doing well.
Don't save up the praise for formal meetings only, praise should be used regularly.
Giving quality feedback is an essential skill for any manager to learn.
Giving feedback regularly and effectively is a great way to motivate and help retain staff.
What do I do when my employee thinks they are doing a better job than they are?
Some people are naturally over confident, some people act it, and some people are not nor act it. Do contemplate that it might be false bravado that you are seeing.
As an employer the more you understand your people and what motivates them the better equipped you are to manage them.
Either way the best action is to sit down with your employee at a regular monthly meeting and go over their key responsibilities and how they are performing against targets, use examples to illustrate their current abilities.
It is hard to argue with facts so taking the time to more formally assess where they are at, give comments about where you need to see improvements or changes, and discussing realistically how their career is tracking will hopefully give them a reality check.