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8 Steps to Higher Performance
The following eight steps will help you and your employees interact in ways that make you work more efficiently and effectively. These steps will help you help your employees feel more motivated on the job and build the connection between their own interests and the interests of the organization.

Step 1. Help Your Employees Stretch

Take your employees above and beyond the status quo of just doing the same job the same way. Make their work challenging, and help them to see the big picture—and their part in it!

Most people want to be better and more capable. But they may resist if they feel that higher expectations are being imposed on them. Make sure your employees know that you're simply trying to help them stretch and grow. You can do this by helping them set individual performance goals that exceed the existing requirements of their jobs. Further, if you explain how their work adds value to the organization and how what they do affects the work of others, they can figure out ways to improve.

You can download excellent presentation slides on Management Skills and personal development HERE.

Step 2. Set Clear Standards

What are the standards of performance for a particular job? Identify them and be specific about the outcomes that characterize outstanding performance and the outcomes that indicate unacceptable performance. Many people found it humorous when a legislator some years ago admitted that he couldn't define pornography, but claimed to be able to recognize it. How could he control something that he couldn't define? But that's the challenge you face as a manager: to improve performance, you've got to be able to define it.

Again, invite discussion on this matter and listen carefully to what the employee has to say. Encourage each employee to establish his or her own parameters for measuring performance based on what he or she considers to be realistic.

3. Define the Scope of Responsibility for Employees

Make sure everyone understands who is responsible for each job activity. When employees know their roles in relationship to those of others, this reduces confusion and gives them a better sense of how they might work with their fellow employees to meet their individual objectives.

Step 4. Help Your Employees Buy into Higher Performance Standards

Most employees want to have a role in raising their own performance expectations. The more input an employee can provide about the job he or she is expected to perform, the more likely the employee is to buy into the new standards.

Step 5. Document What You and Your Employees Agree On

Develop a written list of performance standards for meeting and for exceeding the expectations you've agreed upon with your employees. Remember: you want your employees to continue to stretch, yet you must be sure they can attain those goals.

Be specific about what it's going to take to reach the standards, In each area of job activities. Then, document those expectations. Give a copy of this document to each employee and keep one for yourself.

You can download excellent presentation slides on Management Skills and personal development HERE.

Step 6. Decide on a Course of Action

Once you've set standards, review the specific tasks of each person's job. Identify and discuss the areas in which each employee is skilled and qualified. Plan a course of delegation based on each employee's experience and competence.

Then—and this is very important—let each employee know that once he or she has started the project and gained more insight into the intricacies of the job, you're willing to revise these expectations as necessary. You'll still keep the goals challenging, but you'll make sure they're also realistic.

By doing this, you provide a safe environment so that each-employee can be open and honest with you about successes and struggles along the way. In other words, you're sending out a big message that says, "It's OK to be human!"

Step 7. Observe and Follow Up

Take time to observe how things are going along the way. Don't wait until the end of the project to check in with your employees. Depending on each person's expertise and the complexity of the task being performed, follow up and observe the job being performed while it's in progress.

Step 8. Be Clear about Rewards

Let employees know what to expect if they meet or exceed the standards you've developed. Be clear up front about potential rewards. Let employees know what's in it for them. And plan for them to succeed. Sure, it may be less expensive for the organization if employees fall slightly short of your expectations, because you can save on rewards. But the smart manager knows that success—even if it entails certain expenses at first—breeds success.

Anne Bruce and James Pepitone, Motivating Employees, McGraw Hill. You can obtain this fine book here