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The One Key to Performance Management

Updated: Apr 14, 2020

As small business owners we are constantly moving. Whether that is moving to create new and innovative content, working on our social media game, or networking, networking, and networking. Sometimes this leaves little room in our day – and even in our brains – to think about our teams. That is not to say that you do not care about your team. What is probably the case, is that your team are rock stars and seem to be doing the best they can. After all they are doing a great job.

You are a rocking it at being a boss lady, and you have a team of rock stars. So why am I talking to you about performance management? Because it can help you do more with your team, and also because I think secretly you know you should be paying more attention to it. If done right, performance management can help you improve performance and achievement of business goals, values, and objectives. It can also help you retain those awesome rock stars.

I know you are busy, so I am going to focus on one key thing you can implement to make the most of performance management. Alignment. I’m not talking about your car. I am talking about aligning your overall business goals, values, and objectives with the day-to-day work of your employees. What I mean is to take what your business is doing as a whole and what your dreams are and make a clear connection between them and your employee’s job responsibilities. This ensures we are all moving towards the same end and it reinforces your priorities.

Henry Ford said it best, “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”

Now I bet you are saying, “Sarah I only have 3 employees and I’m pretty sure we are moving together. This seems like a bunch of extra effort and paperwork.” That is a great point, as we never want to have a performance management system that is overly cumbersome, and it’s not like you have extra time in your day to do something that is not going to enrich your business or self. I ask you, “How do you know that your employees see how their work connects to the overall business goals, values, and objectives? Did you ask them? Can they articulate the connection? Do you agree with their articulation?” If the answer to most of those questions are “yes” then go get a cup of coffee and take a break, because you are ahead of the game. Otherwise keep reading.

Here are your easy steps to master alignment in your performance management system.

1. Set Business Goals, Values, and Objectives

You know that vision board in your bathroom, those sticky notes around your desk, and those dreams in your head? Get them all together and on one paper. Be specific. Change that “be a baller” goal into something like “be the go to accountant for female small businesses by increasing guest blogging by 10% and writing a book.” Remember to break up your goals and objectives into short, medium, and long term. Prioritize everything, because if everything is a priority then nothing is a priority. Let’s take a minute to define some terms, because clarity is key.

Goal = a big end state, a dream (example: turn the side hustle into a main hustle by quitting your day job)

Value = the how and intangibles that matter (examples: innovation and female empowerment)

Objectives = concrete accomplishments to achieve (example: gain 10 new clients by the end of the quarter)

2. Make the Connection

Think about what your employees are doing and how they are doing it. Then connect each of these to one or more of the business goals, values, and objectives you wrote down. This might be hard at first and this step might make you rethink what you have your staff doing. This step is critical for your support staff as it is harder for you and them to naturally see the connection. For example, if you have an accounting firm then your accountants can probably see how their work connects to at least one business goal. But what about your virtual assistant or social media specialist?

3. Collaborate

Talk to your employees and get their input. In steps 1 and 2 you figured out what you thought, but leave room for modification based on gaining insight from your employees. They are rock stars after all. I like to take time every few months to talk about the business goals, values, and objectives. This might lead to tweaking, changing, or adding to them. At the very least it reaffirms that we have a shared understanding of the big picture and what we are working for. I also like to talk to each employee privately before I settle on her specific objectives.

4. Write It Down

Put it on paper. It can be on the computer and posted in everyone’s workspace. Make sure you have one version. The way you wrote it down needs to be the same as how everyone on your team wrote it down.

That was easy. Well maybe it was a little tough, but you did it and are feeling energized to reach those goals. As always, have fun and be impactful.

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