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Home / News & Opportunities / Blog / April 2017 / JUSTIN NEALE – MANAGING PERFORMANCE

Date: 27/04/2017

Methods of evaluation need to be decided by the appraiser – there is no “one size fits all” model. They should be based upon job type, job level, sector, situation and so on. 

Formal objectives should always follow the rules of SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time bound. Something like “Sell £50,000 value of laptops and peripheral equipment between January 2017 and March 2017” rather than “Achieve high level of hardware sales” - you get the idea...

Methods of providing feedback to individuals and team performances are varied. Again, this can be due to the nature of the appraisal and the impact/severity of the action. It is the manager’s responsibility to determine what is appropriate. Dependent on the scenario, my suggestion is that where feedback is required it will fit along two axis of information, namely how personal the feedback is, and how planned the event was.


Figure 1. Feedback Matrix (J. Neale, 2017)

The quadrants can then be used to manage feedback methods, such as these:

Personal acknowledgement

  • Elevating good comments to seniors
  • Reactive “interview” to ascertain concern area and establish facts
  • A simple “thank you” or “well done”, broadcast in private or in earshot of the team, depending on the circumstance.
Example: A customer sends an email thanking the staff member for their exceptional service

Group acknowledgement

  • Tabling received comments at management or quality meetings
  • Reactive team “discussion” to ascertain concern area and establish facts
  • A simple “thank you” or “well done”, broadcast to the team.
Example: A planned upgrade misses a pre-determined deadline and several customers are complaining

Personal prepared

  • Grading/scoring against a predetermined target – evaluated by the appraisee and the appraiser. Detailed comments will help to justify any grade given, and explain any discrepancy between the two scoring parties.
Example: An organisation-wide appraisal is due to be completed

Group prepared

  • Team meeting – an agenda item in a regular team meeting such as “Successes and Concerns”, allowing for team celebration or consultation.
Example: A review of the week is structured to ensure quality of team service

Feedback has to motivate or provoke thought. Using an individual as an example case study to other team members is a good way of showing this, setting a benchmark for good performance to others. Essentially, highlighting leading by example, motivating the individual and also inspiring other team members that they will get that recognition if they perform to the same standard.

For under performance, it is important to ascertain all the facts based around an issue or problem area. The individual or team should always have the opportunity to present their viewpoint or opinion before a management decision is made. You can still use a case study as described earlier to illustrate the standard expected, or explain how behaviour could have been improved for less severe cases. In more severe cases, you may follow a more formal route such as organisation-wide disciplinary and grievance procedures.

Finally, and most importantly, a simple thank you should never be under estimated, either individually or broadcasting the thanks across the whole team. It speaks volumes... as long as you truly mean it.
Whatever the model used, be aware of which elements of feedback, under performance or appraisal need to be recorded. Any manner of under-performance should be formalised and recorded using corporate frameworks. This could include appraisal forms, probationary forms, an improvement plan, or recording the transcript of a meeting with detailed minutes.

And don’t forget the positive! It is good practice to keep records of achievement where favourable feedback is gained, and staff should be encouraged to take ownership of the evidence gathering exercise to strengthen their own appraisal statements, a by-product being potential increase in self-esteem and motivation.

When dealing with staff discipline or team differences, managers often deal with conflict. Conflict can manifest quickly, and in turn either escalate or diffuse at a similar rate of speed. Understanding and managing conflict is a key part of keeping the equilibrium within the workplace.

Conflict can generate from a number of sources and scenarios. It could be as simple as a difference of opinion, to something as serious as discriminatory behaviour. There may be full visibility of the conflict or it may be underlying and more indirect. Hidden conflict can include remarks made privately, conspicuously, or in seclusion.

Conflict, if dealt with appropriately, is not necessarily always a negative experience. Constructive conflict can spark debate and review. It is the manager’s responsibility to mediate this, and ensure control by allowing all parties to have their say and “close” the conflict with an output or action. The action may be to take no action, to accept the situation, it may be to over-ride – or it may be a series of improvement steps that can help assist the change.

Where conflict is destructive, one must manage the situation closely, diffuse initial arguments and install balance within the environment. The manager must give the individual(s) the opportunity to explain their actions and describe their feelings in confidence. Remember to be impartial, trustworthy and empathetic, do not pre-judge the situation from hearsay, outside influences, or “gut reaction”.

Diffusing conflict and the swift resolution of problems help to maintain balance, and in turn the morale and esteem of the team and individuals. Managing people does not stop at the office door at 5pm. A good manager will be supportive and striving for their team members at all times, if required, which in turn will reward them with good performance all round.

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Justin Neale

Managing Director | Functional ICT Consultant at JN IT Consultancy Limited

I love IT and I take no greater pleasure in seeing technology improve service or process delivery. I have been in this profession since the turn of the millennium and still have the same drive I did then; striving for perfection by delivering IT consultancy aligned with technical relevance and continual improvement, placing customer requirements at the heart of what I do.

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