This is part 1 of a two-part series.
Performance management is an ongoing challenge in most organizations. Managers spend hours huddled over spreadsheets, analyzing employee performance metrics, looking for ways to improve performance and boost production. When mistakes happen – and they do happen – the bulk of the blame is often shoved off onto the employee.
What leaders often fail to acknowledge is their role in the errors. This lack of leadership accountability can cause problematic issues to continue repeating. This, in turn, causes a decrease in employee morale as frustration and devaluation increase.
Leadership and Employee Performance
Dan Pontefract, author of FLAT ARMY: Creating a Connected and Engaged Organization, finds the connection between leadership and employee performance to be essential to an organization’s growth, but it is often misunderstood or given less credence than it should.
Pontefract asserts that performance management isn’t really about managing employee performance at all. Instead, it is the responsibility of the leader to help build up the employee then aid them in releasing that enhanced performance.
In other words, the leadership role extends far beyond guiding and motivating. Leadership can and should shape employee performance, making it more relevant and effective within the organization.
Ensure Systems Are Built Out to Assign Responsibilities
One of the most common causes of missed deadlines and mistakes in an organization is the failure of the leadership team to build out processes of ownership. All too often, management will assign tasks, then leave employees completely on their own to figure out how those tasks should be accomplished. They fail to provide direction and there is no consistent voice in how the task should be done or what the end result should be.
This often undermines the company in many areas, including branding, production, and employee retention. If five different employees complete the same task, there will likely be five different outcomes without consistent guidance. In certain areas, this can be detrimental to operations.
Consistency and clarity are instrumental in establishing order within a company. Every repeatable task should have clear instructions and each step of the task should have an owner. Before leadership pins a mistake on one employee, they should first ensure that the employee has been granted access to a document that outlines all the steps in their task, thus specifying their role in the mistake. It is important for leaders to learn how to build business systems and how to use them effectively in employee performance management.
Come back for part two, when I share more practical ways that leadership can shape employee performance. In the meantime, download a free chapter of How to Be a Great Boss, which gives practical leadership and management advice you can start using today.
This article originally appeared on the Traction, Inc. blog on December 12, 2016.