For an employee to do their job well and perform at their best, they need a clear understanding of what is expected, regular feedback on performance and to be given appropriate training.
A good performance management process:
- improves communication between employers and employees
- recognises and rewards great performance
- addresses issues before they escalate
- identifies training opportunities
- manages poor performance.
Performance management cycle
Performance management is a process, not an event. It is a continuous cycle that ensures employees know what is expected of them and supports them to achieve (or exceed) those expectations.
Try these 5 steps for on-the-job and one-on-one reviews
Meet with each team member at the start of the season and agree on:
- their specific tasks and job responsibilities
- your expectations
- opportunities for training, and
- discuss their goals for the season.
For a plan to be successful, employees need to be actively involved in the conversation. Your job descriptions, farm policy and procedures and annual training plans are useful references and templates for these conversations.
2. Monitor and measure
Observe each team member and give regular, constructive, and specific feedback. To measure performance, reviewing records such as herd mating results, somatic cell count, feed wedge, and milk grades, can help.
This is an important part of the process and can be done informally at catch-up sessions or at the formal performance reviews. Feedback can be for a job well done or as a corrective measure. Feedback needs to be specific, constructive, and given as soon as possible after an event to have the most impact.
4. Coaching and training
This can be on farm and include learning new skills from experienced team members or by specialised training providers off farm, e.g. Dairy Training Ltd, Primary ITO. This can also come from discussion groups or working within the team to come up with solutions or advice.
5. Performance review
This is a formal discussion where past performance is reviewed, and future actions are discussed. The focus should be 80% looking forward and 20% reviewing. This is the final stage of the cycle before planning for the next period.
Managing poor performance
If an employee is consistently underperforming, something needs to be done. Research shows that where a manager tolerates non-performance, other high-performing team members are more likely to leave.
Steps for managing poor performance
1. As yourself, has your employee:
- had job expectations clearly communication?
- had the required behaviour clearly discussed with them?
- got the right tools and equipment to do the job?
- received appropriate training for the task and if not why not?
If yes to the above questions:
If no to the above questions:
- Highlight which expectations and/or behaviours are not being met.
- Explain exactly how you expect them to improve.
- Ask for their point of view.
- If this discussion is enough to see improvement, then no further action is required. Make a note in a diary about the discussion to monitor improvement.
- Discuss with your employee the provision of training or coaching to help them achieve your expectations.
- Have an open and fair discussion and make it clear that if no improvement is obvious by a specific date, they will be placed under performance management and further disciplinary action may be taken.
- Take thorough notes, have them signed and dated by you and your employee, and give them a copy.
- You need to show your employee you have done your best to help them improve their performance.
2. Issue a warning
If training and support have not improved an employee’s performance to the required standard, it may be appropriate to issue a warning. A warning should state the standard you expect and the date by which you expect the improvement. A signed and dated copy needs to be given to the employee.
Dismissal is the last resort. A strict legal process needs to be followed to prove that the dismissal was fair and reasonable. It is advisable to get expert advice on employment law before starting the dismissal process. The Employment New Zealand website has more information.
Performance and discipline processes
Regular feedback and reviews keep the lines of communication open and help your team to grow and perform at their best.
Conflict in the workplace can undermine staff motivation and affect an employer’s reputation. Learn how to deal with conflict and maintain team culture effectively.
Learn how to follow a fair and reasonable process when trying to correct misconduct or dealing with repeated poor performance.
Implementing a safe and drug free workplace needs to be carefully managed, find out more here.