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"Tracking Performance"

Bruce Tulgan, employee performance, tracking performance
Posted by Tulgan, Bruce at Monday, 05/17/2010 11:24 am
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3.1 from 93 votes
When it comes to tracking employee performance, most managers keep a record of things like hours worked and bottom-line numbers that appear in weekly or monthly reports. Otherwise, most managers monitor employee performance only incidentally, when they happen to observe the employee working; if they are presented with the employee's work product; or if there is a big win; or if there is a notable problem. Most managers rarely document employee performance unless they are required to do so, leaving no track record other than those bottom-line reports that tell us so little about the day-to-day actions of employees.

If you are not keeping track of employee performance closely, then how are you in a position to provide leadership? How are you able to provide guidance, direction, on-the-job training, and coaching? If you are not tracking performance then how are you able to identify resource needs? If you are not tracking individual performance closely how can you anticipate problems and correct small routine errors as they occur? How can you keep employee conflicts to a minimum?

If you are not tracking performance on a day to day basis, how can you keep everybody focused on their work? How can you set ambitious, but meaningful, goals and deadlines? How can you assess the appropriate scope of responsibility to delegate to each employee? How can you evaluate performance against expectations? How can you really hold employees accountable for the individual actions within their control?

If you are not tracking performance closely how can you motivate employees by linking their performance to rewards and detriments? How can you prevent low and mediocre performers from becoming comfortable in their jobs? How can you prevent high performers from leaving? How can you help the best people develop into new leaders?

I mean, really... if you are not keeping track of the day to day performance of your direct-reports, how can you really practice any of the basics of supervision?

Without that kind of real close to the ground knowledge, you force yourself into a position of weakness. You operate blind. How could you possibly be a strong manager without real day to day operational knowledge?

Knowledge Is Power... That's not just a slogan. Armed with knowledge about every employee and his or her work, you are in a position to make judgments that increase productivity, increase quality, and improve the work experience of your employees. When you have the day to day knowledge then you are in a position to set employees up for success to help them continually improve their work and develop their skills. If you have to impose some negative consequence, you'll be able to demonstrate that your decision is based on a detailed written track record. When it comes time to reward high performers, you will have a detailed written record to help you make your case and secure more generous rewards. Plus... the greater your reputation for being all over the details of course the more power you have -- even if you are not knowledgeable in a particular situation. Why is that? People are much more likely to share information with you and answer your questions fully and honestly. After all, they will think, you keep such close track you might already have the information or answers to the questions you are asking.

Do you currently have any direct-reports who are really struggling with one particular task or responsibility? Name them. Next to each name, make a note of the particular task or responsibility in question. Plan to set aside some time with each person so you can watch the individual perform the task or responsibility in question. Take notes of course. You'll learn so much from watching him/her actually do the task. Is he/she doing it right? Is it taking too long? What's going wrong? Now you'll be able to help more effectively.

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