WORKPLACE LAW – Four Tips for Managing Employee Performance

Question: I was just promoted to a management position but I don’t have any experience managing employees. What do I need to know and do?

Answer: Congratulations on your promotion. Managing employees can be challenging and rewarding. It is important to get some training if your employer provides an opportunity for training. The following tips will give you some general information to get started.

• Communicate often with employees you supervise. Communication with employees is essential to staying informed about what employees are doing, how well they are performing their jobs, and what challenges they may be experiencing. Depending on the culture of your company, communication can be face to face, via email, phone, remote meetings, or a combination of these methods. Schedule time to speak to the employees you supervise and carefully listen to what they have to say about what they are doing, problems they may be encountering, and resources they may need to perform their jobs. A recent Gallup poll found that the majority of employees say they meet with their manager as infrequently as less than once a month (56% of millennials and 53% of non-millennials). Regular meetings improve employee engagement with their jobs, and many human resources professionals believe that employees, especially millennials, have an expectation for ongoing communication because as a group they have engaged in a constant feedback loop from an early age. Employees appreciate positive feedback and an opportunity to share concerns with their manager. It is important to also share constructive criticism with an employee who is having job performance issues.
• Document employee performance. Many managers do not take the time to document good and bad examples of employee performance. When an employee’s performance needs improvement, meet with the employee to discuss the specific performance problem, the action that is required for improvement, and listen to the employee’s explanation, if any, for the poor performance. Make notes of meetings you have with the employees you supervise, and/or send the employee an email to document the meeting and the conduct that needs improvement. When documenting performance weaknesses, be objective and specific so the employee knows what improvement is needed. Be sure to include the date and time of any specific incident of poor performance and the improvement that is required, and the consequences for inadequate improvement. If an employee’s conduct violates company policy, it is helpful to refer to the policy. Be sure to also document good performance, so when it is time for you to do a performance evaluation you have documentation of each employee’s strengths and areas for improvement.
• Model appropriate behavior. Lead by example, avoid workplace gossip, and follow your company’s workplace rules. Your promotion is an indication that you are already modeling this behavior, but it is important for the employees you supervise to see you modeling good performance and workplace conduct.
• Make sure employees understand the company’s goals and mission. Provide clear direction and communicate your expectations, and let employees know how their jobs help accomplish the company’s goals so they feel that their work is important and they are part of a team. Treat the employees you supervise like you would like to be treated.

This list is just a starting point for developing your management skills. Don’t hesitate to ask for advice from other managers and learn from their experience.