“My employee sed to perform very well in the past. Why is he slacking now?”

“What can I do with my experienced staff who refuse to take on additional work?”

As a leadership coach and workshop facilitator for the past 16 years, I have been asked these questions frequently. I would like to share three ways to power up your employees’ performance:

Acknowledge, praise and reward

A common observation is that when employees first join organisations, they are full of energy, are highly enthusiastic and motivated to do their best.

They clock longer hours, do much more than others and are usually the first to volunteer for additional tasks or undertake new projects. They have a strong desire to learn fast and perform well.

In return, they hope that their hard work will be recognised by their immediate superiors and peers, and be rewarded adequately.

But more often than not, they do not get the right recognition and rewards from their superiors.

Some find that they get more assignments because their superiors trust them to deliver results — but do not get the credit when the work is done.

I have found that, in general, Asian managers and supervisors are not as generous in giving praise and compliments when employees have done well. Perhaps it is cultural reticence or reserve.

Reserved managers should try a different approach. Offer words of motivation and a “pat on the back” to staff when they have done well.

Be generous enough to acknowledge your employees’ contributions with praise and reward them accordingly for great work performance.

Conduct fair and constructive performance appraisals

A manager once told me that he felt that performance management and appraisals were a waste of time. He claimed that those who forged ahead in their career were the ones whom the senior management liked.

In other words, these people did not perform well enough but got promoted because they were popular with the right people. He therefore believed that focusing on being popular was more important than performing well on the job.

I told him that I disagreed with his views. If such a trend was widespread, organisations would be losing their high-performance employees and keeping more average performers who were highly popular. Most organisations recognise that this is not good for their business success in the long run.

Conducting fair and constructive performance appraisal discussions is a great way to boost employees’ work performance.

Setting shared key performance indicators (KPIs) and using them consistently throughout the assessment period is fair for both managers and employees.

The manager should measure the performance of his employees against the stated KPIs and avoid making any last-minute changes.

He should also measure employees with similar job functions with the same yardstick to ensure fairness.

He has to be objective and measure the performance of the employee, not his personality, to avoid any bias.

During the discussions, the manager could also spend some time on recognising the achievements of his employees and reinforcing their strengths.

He could share constructive feedback with their employees, particularly on ways to deliver better performance in the future.     

Don’t accept mediocre performance

If supervisors keep quiet and accept mediocre and sub-standard work from their staff, the latter will assume that they do not need to do better and continue to deliver the same low-quality performance.

Raise the bar and reject work that does not meet your expectations. Discuss with your employees what areas need improvement, coach them on how to achieve this and give them a timeframe to do it. Praising them as they progress will motivate them even further.

Apply these three ways to boost team performance. Your employees may even surprise you by turning in better results than you expect.