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Article : 'Managing Staff Performance'

‘Managing Staff Performance’

All employees of the organisation participate in the formal corporate system of performance review as a way of monitoring and developing performance and assessing career progression. Appraisals are implemented by the line manager of any member of staff at regular intervals. However, the most substantial component to managing the performance and development of staff takes place informally on a day-to-day basis. In some cases, certain employees are effectively managed by someone other than their line manager, for example where they have been allocated to a specific project or site. Whether or not the manager has the formal (line) or the informal functional responsibility for members of staff , it is essential that he or she is able to appraise, activate and develop the performance of people reporting to them. In the modern mixed economy of in-house and private sector service provision, the manager will also be expected to manage the performance of external contractors, suppliers and consultants in order to ensure continuity of service and value for money.

In essence, if management are to offer value for money to customers, they have to obtain value for money from their staff. Managers are required to support and encourage direct labour staff to set long term objectives and short term targets. Working with clear and agreed systems for performance measurement, they are subsequently required to motivate, to steer and correct where necessary, and to develop performance by creating the conditions whereby progressively more responsibility may be taken on.

For all managers, there is a technical and a managerial component to the job. Clearly the ideal situation is when every employee or contractor is ‘doing that which he is paid for’. For many technically trained managers, it remains tempting to allow themselves to be drawn into operational tasks, rather than delegating them. Although it is a popular misconception that delegation is synonymous with the allocation of tasks, delegation is rather the final step of a long sequence of performance management interventions by which an employee is made ready for a new task, in terms of being both willing and able.

'Willing' is defined as :
Motivation
Professional commitment and attitude
Confidence

'Able' is defined as :
Knowledge
Skills / Qualifications
Experience

In essence, a manager can only delegate a task to a member of staff if all 6 'boxes can be ticked'. Delegation is not therefore something does on a whim : it is the final point in the long 'Road to Delegation' that consists of setting and agreeing long-term objectives and short-term targets, measuring and monitoring progress, and managing and reviewing. The latter represents a broad 'toolkit' of skills that includes : listening, motivating, advising, influencing, instructing, steering and correcting.