There’s a definite whiff of sharpened pencil in the air as the summer holidays draw to a close and the children head back to school. September is often a time for new beginnings in the workplace too, as people return refreshed from their annual leave and get back into the swing of things at work.

This renewed sense of energy that’s often present at the start of Autumn gives managers the perfect opportunity to get people really focused on their performance. So what can you do to capitalise on the sense of optimism created by the Olympics and get people clear about their goals and determined to achieve results?

Focus on the Bigger Picture

What are the overall objectives for your department or team? What specific targets need to be met and by when? What do you personally need to do to make it happen? If you are clear about your own personal goals, it will be much easier to set clear objectives for the team that supports you.

Set Clear Specific Goals

Make sure your people are clear about the detail of what you want them to achieve. If their objectives are too wide or generic, they will find it difficult to know which activities to prioritise and will struggle to judge how well they’re doing. Review the goals you have set to make sure they are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely).

Involve your Team

If people have had a hand in setting their goals they will be much more enthusiastic about trying to reach them. Make sure your team are clear about the wider business strategy so they can see how they fit in – and ask for their input and ideas on how objectives might best be achieved.

Develop your People

Make sure your people are equipped with the skills and confidence they need to do the job in hand. You can’t expect people to perform to a high standard if there are critical gaps in their skills or knowledge. This doesn’t have to mean sending people on expensive external training courses. Often, coaching or mentoring from a colleague or some informal, internal training will be enough to ramp up their competence.

Provide Regular Feedback

Don’t reserve your feedback solely for the annual performance appraisal. Talk regularly to your people about how they’re doing and hand out praise for a job well done, whether it’s a small step or a significant achievement. Getting into a pattern of regular conversations about performance also makes it easier to explain what people might need to do differently if priorities change or the business goal-posts shift.

Hold People to Account

Don’t shy away from difficult conversations if people’s performance isn’t up to scratch. Nip any problems in the bud early – often an informal chat will uncover an underlying personal or work-related issue that you may not previously have been aware of. If you hold people firmly but fairly to account you will get better results and they will respect you for it.

Are you planning to re-energise your team after the summer break? Let us know what performance management techniques work well for you.

Erika Lucas author image

Erika Lucas

Writer and Communications Consultant

Erika Lucas is a writer and communications consultant with a special interest in HR, leadership, management and personal development. Her career has spanned journalism and PR, with previous roles in regional press, BBC Radio, PR consultancy, charities and business schools.