Ensuring on-going performance

Developing on the effective management skills outlined earlier in the document it is essential to use these skills to best effect when giving effective feedback, when it is necessary to have a difficult conversation with staff and reinforcing feedback and setting goals in the PDR.

Giving effective feedback

The purpose of feedback is to reinforce positive actions and behaviours or redirect actions and behaviours so that individuals change their behaviour and actions. Your approach to giving feedback will of course depend on the situation i.e. you may decide that feedback only needs to be light-touch in order to get the results that you need or you need to prepare if more formal feedback is needed – particularly if the feedback is negative.

When giving feedback ensure that it is given as closely as possible to the event so that is seen as timely and relevant. Also, be aware that the individual may find the feedback difficult to accept and therefore good preparation is essential so that you can communicate your message sensitively and effectively.

However, in terms of your overall management approach remember to give positive feedback to staff – it’s motivating and helps reinforce positive behaviours and actions!

Having difficult conversations

Occasionally, matters arise that make it necessary to raise difficult issues with staff. These types of discussions can be some of the most difficult situations a manager has to deal with below are some key principles to follow when you have to give difficult negative feedback.

  • Know your facts and have them to hand – you do not want to be side tracked if you’ve got your facts wrong and you will need to ensure your credibility through the process.
  • Anticipate other people’s behaviour and prepare your responses – Anticipate other people’s behaviour and prepare your own responses and role-play in your mind how things are likely to happen. Prepare your responses according to the different scenarios that you think could unfold. Prepare other people to support and defend you. Being well prepared will increase your self-confidence and enable you to be assertive about what’s important to you.
  • Prepare and use good open questions – Asking good questions is the most reliable way of gaining the initiative, and taking the wind out of someone’s sails, in any situation. Also don’t be fobbed off, stick to your guns. If the question is avoided or ignored return to it, or re-phrase it.
  • Re-condition and practice your own reactions to aggression – It is likely that in a difficult situation that individual responses will be negative and therefore you need to ensure that you are assertive (not passive or aggressive) and prepare for negative reactions. Again, preparation is key and be aware of how you will react to negative responses.
  • If in doubt, get some help – as noted, dealing with these situation is not easy. As part of you preparation think of talking to another manger or someone in HR so that you feel more confident in dealing with these situations.

Performance development review

Building on regular feedback throughout the year is the PDR (Performance Development Review) that allows you and your staff to identify new objectives.

Bangor University’s Performance Development Review (PDR) scheme is founded on the belief that all staff have a right to a clear understanding of the University’s expectations of them and an opportunity to discuss and agree their contribution to the achievement of the University’s goals. The aims of the PDR Scheme are to:

  • bring staff and reviewers together on a regular formal basis, to review roles, expectations and development.
  • identify strengths and contributions made by staff to the University.
  • agree an individual’s key objectives to ensure that all staff make an effective contribution to the achievement of the University’s overall aims and objectives.
  • identify and support the continuing professional development needs of staff.
  • provide an opportunity for individuals to reflect on what they are doing and how they might wish to contribute in the future and
  • encourage effective communication within the University.

In terms of the process it is expected that staff will receive a PDR at least once a year and the process is firmly based on the premise that all staff perform their work better, and with greater job satisfaction, when;

  • They know, and can agree with, what is expected of them.
  • They receive feedback on their work from managers and colleagues to whom they are accountable.
  • They can raise concerns and identify constraints without fear of recriminations.
  • They receive support and guidance to achieve agreed objectives.
  • There is an opportunity for self-development and career progression.

The PDR therefore is seen as a positive process by the University which allows managers and staff to reflect on their work and identify objectives for the following period. As a manager you are responsible for; agreeing on a set of objectives for the following year, providing guidance to the reviewee, identifying training and development needs to assist in achieving identified objectives and overall career development aims and evaluating success in achieving previous objectives and performance and be open to receive and provide relevant feedback.

The PDR should reflect discussions held during the year in one to one’s with staff and in team meetings and should help managers plan future improvements and plan development opportunities for staff.

If following training, feedback and support there very little change in an individual’s performance it may be necessary to follow formal procedures to address the gaps in performance.