4 tips for preventing poor performance

There’s a strong link between a company’s financial performance and an effective and aligned goal-setting process.

When employees understand the connection between their individual efforts and the organisation’s strategic aims, the business benefits are:

  • Increased operating margins
  • Quicker execution of company strategy
  • Reduced employee turnover

Here are our tips to help you create a better environment for your staff and improve your bottom line.

Update your business plan

It doesn’t matter whether you create a five-year strategic or 12-month operational plan, as long as it gets your business where it needs to go. Your plan should help you work towards your vision. More than ever, you need to be flexible, adaptive and responsive, but remember that your business exists to achieve big-purpose goals. Only deviate from the plan if a significant opportunity or risk presents itself or a deviation is minor and helps you achieve the same outcome differently.

Most importantly, be wary of shiny object syndrome. Many leaders feel pressure to adopt new tech-enabled solutions quickly to keep pace with their competitors. There may be an actual need to pivot. However, suppose you don’t take the time to consider your motivations for the change and how it aligns with the company’s big picture strategy. In that case, you’ll take staff and your business on an unnecessary, costly, unproductive and less profitable tangent.

When businesses are prone to shiny object syndrome, an object is often dropped when there’s a new glimmer on the horizon. All of a sudden, you have multiple unfinished projects, less money to spend and nothing to show for it.

Cascade and align goals

Can you communicate how your organisational goals are tied to individual goals?

Is everyone in your business aware of the performance expectations associated with their role?

Of course, this should be covered in new employee induction, but consistent communication is the key to success.

Here’s an example. If your business plans to have rolled out safety training to all employees in the next 3 months:

  • The Sales Manager needs to train all sales employees by the deadline
  • The Warehouse Manager needs to train all warehouse employees by the deadline
  • The Finance Manager needs to train all finance employees by the deadline.

These goals cascade down. In the example of the Sales Manager:

  • The QLD Sales Rep needs to complete training by the deadline
  • The NSW Sales Rep needs to complete training by the deadline
  • The VIC Sales Rep needs to complete training by the deadline.

Make sure your goals are SMART. Again, in the example of the Sales Manager, this could mean:

  • Specific – The goal pertains to the Sales Manager (global). They know there’s no in-person component to this training and that staff can finish it in 30 minutes online. They have a training overview and access to the online portal. Most importantly, the manager knows why training is essential (e.g. because the company had a 10% increase in workplace incidents in the last 12 months and the leadership team are keen to invest in a strong safety culture and staff wellbeing.)
  • Measurable – The training portal shows when a staff member completes a training course. The portal segments training profiles by functional area, and the manager can see a dashboard view of percentage completion for Sales staff.
  • Attainable – The manager can contact all staff within the timeframe, provide access to tools and schedule an appropriate time for each person to complete training.
  • Relevant – The Sales Manager has recently struggled to uphold deadlines due to the team’s psychological safety concerns. The training will cover this issue.
  • Timely – The manager has 3 months to ensure all staff complete training. This is enough time for people to get the job done, but not so much time that they might put it on the backburner. The safety topic is on everyone’s minds due to recent events, and planned communication will continue across the timeframe to ensure relevance remains high.

Set clear behavioural boundaries and expectations

Expectations need to cover the required outputs (goals, KPIs, objectives) and behaviours – aka how employees complete their tasks to reach these goals. Standards will differ by business, but common behavioural standards include:

  • Teamwork
  • Building potential and talent
  • Strategic thinking
  • Innovation and creativity
  • Customer commitment
  • Planning and implementation
  • Problem solving and analysis

Monitor and provide feedback

Don’t set and forget. It’s your job as a leader to monitor and provide feedback continually. Raise concerns promptly and constructively, then agree on a path forward to ensure staff can meet the goals.

There needs to be a strong culture of individual accountability, no matter what industry you’re in. Every employee is there to deliver results for someone, whether it’s the customer, shareholders, government, investors or members. It’s your job as a leader to ensure expectations are met.

Now that you have some tips for preventing poor performance try our free online Best Workplace Assessment and see where your business is positioned across the 6 pillars of a high-functioning organisation.


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