Development Cooperation Handbook/How do we manage the human resources of programmes and projects?/Improve employee performance

Steps and Tools

After reviewing the employee performance a fundamental step for Performance management is to providing feedback and to coaching employees to higher levels of performance so they achieve their potential. Besides written responses to written self evaluations (like monthly performance report), it is opportune to hold one-to-one meeting to discuss the ‘3 P’s’– progress, priorities and problems on the basis of the previously submitted reports.

Reactions to Performance Appraisals
Some managers and employees are ambivalent about the performance appraisal interview and avoid providing negative feedback overtly. Managers uncomfortable with providing criticism sometimes provide it between heavy doses of positive feedback and make only vague comments. They also may bury in small talk or humor, communicating negative feedback obliquely. The discomfort felt by the evaluators manifests itself in avoidance behaviors that obscure the message and merely skims the surface of performance appraisal.

When receiving negative feedback, subordinates may become defensive as they feel their self-esteem threatened. They may try blaming their deficient performance on others or on external factors. They may minimize the importance of the appraisal, question the validity of the evaluation or may too readily agree to the feedback while internally denying its accuracy.

The solution to managing reactions is to train managers how to conduct constructive feedback sessions. In an effective interview, the employee perceives the appraisal as fair, the manager as sincere and the climate as constructive. Therefore, the employee is more likely to leave the interview informed about his or her performance and how to improve and determined to correct deficiencies. When providing feedback, managers should focus on the employee’s behaviors, not personality. Summarizing an employee’s performance by labeling him or her as “lazy,” for example, is not helpful and will lead to defensiveness. It is more beneficial to focus on what a person does rather than what that person seems to be.

Exploring the cause of performance problems
When supervisors detect poor performance, they need to explore the causes of the problems. Managers should accurately identify the causes of poor performance because the determination affects performance evaluations, can be a source of unspoken conflict and determines the appropriate solution. A supervisor will evaluate an employee differently if the supervisor realizes that poor performance in a specific instance resulted from the employee not having the proper resources versus not trying hard enough. Furthermore, tension can develop when employees and managers have significantly different perceptions of why goals were not met. Managers should consider ability, motivation and situational factors when determining why there have been performance deficiencies. All three factors influence an employee’s performance. Ability includes an employee’s talents and knowledge. And situational factors are organizational characteristics such as training, resources and information that can help or hinder performance.

Organizations not only should try to turn low performers into high performers, but they also should foster high-performance managers and employees. A relationship exists between employee development and project/programme success. Managers can foster team excellence by helping employees build skills, assigning special projects and providing candid, insightful coaching and feedback. Employees need assignments that stretch their abilities and challenge them to learn new skills. They also benefit from variety, whether it comes through a formal job-rotation program or special projects. In addition, direct supervisors should provide routine feedback and coaching about their strengths and weaknesses. Feedback empowers employees to take charge of their own development and informs them where they excel and how to improve.   Employees benefit from having mentors who nurture self-esteem, provide advice and encourage them. Few organizations recognize the powerful benefit of mentoring. Some organizations have formal, global mentoring programs that carefully match participants.   In addition to institutionalized mentoring, organizations can drive performance through training, promoting high performers quickly, strategically dispensing rewards and offering 360-degree feedback. Training in leadership development and managerial foundations enhance performance. Offering bonuses for individual and team achievement reward high-performing employees. Instituting 360-degree feedback provides input on a person’s strengths and development needs from peers, subordinates and supervisors.



  Applicant employee evaluation form
  Staff Activity Forecast and Report
  Interpersonal skill assessment
  Employee Performance Review – Peer Review
  Performance appraisal forms


  Key Questions for Establishing the Team Organization
  How to reach an agreement on the Employee Performance Objectives
  How to manage motivated and effective teams
  How to recognize if Team Building is successful
  How to check the level of togetherness in a team
  Measures to make teams more performing
  The 5 steps of team creation
  Checklist for Identifying Performance Problems

  Why do organisations need to plan and manage their communication?
  How team members can improve overall project communication
  Measures to make teams more performing
  Required characteristics of the project manager
  The 10 Project Management Guiding Principles

See also


In other sections of this handbook
  Managing the Human Resources of a project team

  Managing the recruitment and selection processes
  Manage the Team performance
  Review employee performance
  Recognize and Success and Reward Superior Performance
  Discipline Minimal Performers

  The employee empowering organization
  Team Conflict Management
  Decision Making in Groups
  Leading and Managing
  Team Conflict Management
  Decision Making in Groups
  Project Managers and programme Managers
  Determining the project manager