To improve performance, therefore, attention has to be paid to −
increasing ability − by recruitment (people will want to join the organization), selection (choosing the right people) and learning and developing (people will want to enhance their knowledge and skills);
increasing motivation − by the provision of extrinsic and intrinsic rewards;
increasing opportunity − by providing people with the opportunity to use, practice and develop their skills.
The opportunity to engage in discretionary behavior is crucial if employees are to perform well. Discretionary behavior takes place when employees exercise choice on the range of tasks to be done and how they do their work, covering such aspects as effort, speed, care, attention to quality, customer service, innovation and style of job delivery.
The Bath team pointed out that: ‘Managing performance through people means finding ways to induce employees to work better or more effectively by triggering the discretionary behavior that is required. This happens when people find their jobs satisfying, they feel motivated and they are committed to their employer in the sense of wishing to stay working for the organization in the foreseeable future.’
Much of what needs to be done to improve individual performance happens at the organizational level. It is about developing a performance culture, providing leadership, creating the right working environment and generally adopting ‘the big idea’ as explained earlier in this chapter.
At the individual level, improvement in performance can also be achieved through policies and practices designed to increase learning by coaching, mentoring and self-managed learning. The aim should be to increase ‘discretionary learning’, which happens when individuals actively seek to acquire the knowledge and skills required to achieve the organization’s objectives.
Line managers play a pivotal role in this by encouraging discretionary learning and supporting it through coaching and mentoring. Performance management provides a valuable platform for doing this.
Essentially, the approach covers seven steps −
Select the goal − establish priority areas for action.
Define expectations − targets and standards.
Define performance measures − the basis upon which progress to achieving the goal can be monitored.
Plan − the improvement program.
Act − implement the improvement program.
Monitor − review progress and analysis feedback to ensure the target or standard is achieved.
Extend the process − continue the development program as required.