As managers, we want our staff to be engaged and productive at work. When we find this is not the case, it can be difficult to identify just what is causing a staff member to perform below par, especially if you know they are capable.
The obvious solution is to ask them and this can result in an opportunity to coach them towards improved performance if it is something simple like them being unsure of a procedure. If, on the other hand, the answer is not forthcoming there is a helpful acronym, ACHIEVE, encompassing 7 areas to look at in order to pinpoint the problem and help the staff member to ACHIEVE more.
The 7 keys are:
- Ability. Does the staff member have the correct knowledge and skills to be able to perform the task or role? Have they received the correct training? Being shown once or twice how a system or process works in their first week does not constitute appropriate training. We sometimes make assumptions about how quickly someone should ‘pick things up’ without actually assessing their level of skill or knowledge.
- Clarity. Are they clear on their objectives and outcomes? Have you been specific enough? Sometimes we need to point the finger at ourselves. Could we have been clearer, could we change the way we explain what we’d like from a staff member to a way that they can relate to and not just explain things the way we always do – it may work for other staff members but not all.
- Help. Are they receiving the appropriate amount of help and support – either from you or someone else? This can also relate to their current ability – maybe they need more coaching, maybe they need a process to follow if they get stuck and you’re not available, maybe they need more feedback. It could be they don’t work well being micromanaged or alternatively being given too much autonomy. It’s important to work out what the issue is and fix it.
- Incentives. Do you know what motivates the staff member? People are often motivated more by intrinsic rather than extrinsic factors so it’s important to find out where their strengths are and play to them – give them a purpose and opportunities to do what they’re good at. It maybe that they’re not performing because they’re being asked to do too many things that they find boring or believe they’re not good at.
- Evaluation. Are you providing adequate feedback? Do they know how their performance will be measured? Do they get balanced feedback? Everybody likes to feel appreciated and valued for their contribution, likewise, they like to know how they can improve, giving feedback is a way of doing this.
- Validity. Do they know how they contribute to the team and the organisation – where they fit in? Do they appreciate consequences of them not performing? Sometimes pointing out how their role and the tasks they do contribute to the smooth running of the organisation can give them a new insight and elevate their motivation levels. Help them see the bigger picture.
- Environment. Are you creating an environment in which they can flourish? Is there strong leadership/direction? Are there processes and guidelines in place? Do they understand their role and the roles of their team members and what is expected of them? The best team environments are born out of these key elements and result in a positive team spirit. Make sure you are fostering it and not detracting from it.
You may have noticed that many of the elements point to your skills as a manager to help the team member perform rather than the staff members’ inadequacies. It’s important to remember that managing performance is always a 2-way street and as managers, we are in a privileged position to be able to inspire, motivate and enable our staff to ACHIEVE their best.
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