Tips for Leaders on Managing Performance

One of the biggest aspects a business has to manage is its performance standards. This determines the trajectory of business success and so it is a vital element that plagues many leaders’ minds daily. Especially in the post lockdown world of work, many new conditions have arisen that need to be accommodated and managed for employees to perform optimally. Leaders are faced with the mammoth task of getting business up and running whilst they are also finding their feet during this time. Here are some areas to get you thinking about how to courageously navigate performance levels amongst your teams or employees.


To begin with, you have to identify which level of performance your team is currently working at and then design a strategy around each point. This is because each level provides an understanding of the elements you may be facing, making it easier to adapt and customize your leadership.

The five levels at which an individual could be performing are:

  1. The Rookie: These are those individuals that need more guidance and direction in their activities. They will probably be feeling a lot less confident in their efforts and require some “hand holding” to move to the next level.
  2. The “Doer”: Although they may not have come fully into their own, at this point the employee is now contributing a lot more. They have begun to find their voice and are wanting to be heard.
  3. The Performer: They are now playing their part in the team, carrying their share of the load. Although there is still the element of feedback, it is directed more at results rather than guiding.
  4. The Professional: This employee has all their ducks in a row. They have come in with the capacity and confidence to just pick up from where they left off. They are finding this process like riding a bike.
  5. The Activator: At the frontline standing with you are these people. They are not only conquering this transition but are helping others to succeed. You will find them offering their ideas and innovative solutions of how to face any future challenges that you may find yourself in again.

I am sure you are sitting there and are able to start identifying the different employees that fit these profiles. It is important to recognize that the teams you have returning to the workplace are still the capable staff that you had pre COVID-19, you as a leader just need to be aligned with the following strategies to get them back to prime capacity.

Individualized approach

With motivational levels at a transitional phase for each employee, it is impossible to take a blanket approach in terms of your leadership style. For each profile, you are going to have to adapt different methods of managing your team. The employees are having to adapt to new safety protocols, how this pandemic will affect their job security, and what the new world of work entails. Make your presence visible for those who need it and participative for those who do not. Keep your finger on the pulse of each individual so you are able to handle any issues around stagnation that may solidify and more importantly to devise the appropriate strategy that will be inclusive of each of the above profiles.

Model performance expectations

The employees will be looking at you for all the answers under the current circumstance. With all the uncertainty you need to remain a beacon of hope. Emulating a strong work ethic and articulating job success will inspire and encourage employees at every level to stand in solidarity with you. Projecting positivity and fulfilled outcomes will reinvigorate those very capabilities within others. Once they can engage with your energy of success they will seek to emulate the very same behaviours that are building organizational success which in turn will become entrenched in the culture of the business.

Communicate and empower

For many people information is power, so communicating effectively is key to performance. It is essential that employees are kept in the loop about the vision and role they play in the business. Your game plan needs to be clear and specific (why, what, where, who and how) so there is no added ambiguity that could stifle performance. You are empowering employees by setting clear expectations and deadlines. They remain accountable for their efforts towards achieving success. Even in giving negative news, you are giving an individual the opportunity to improve and do better. Through good communication, every part of the business and its people should be working in sync to improve the business.

Create a psychologically safe environment

As mentioned there are many aspects that may be distracting employees from giving their all to the business. Although you may not be able to solve all these issues you can make sure that work is a place where some of these issues are left at the door. Have regular check-ins with staff members to make sure that they are on track with any outcomes and also on a personal level. Having access to you as a leader will provide employees with the impression that they are not just considered assets to the business but also valued human beings. Instill a balanced work culture where people can be themselves and engage in a community that is built on fundamental values that they relate to. This will foster feelings of community and collaboration where individuals do not feel alone and can reach out when they are struggling with any aspect of work. A clear mind will undoubtedly increase performance levels.

Reward Improvement

It sounds like an exhausted tip but everyone wants to be recognized for their efforts. Adequate feedback will inform individuals about their alignment with communicated goals as well as areas of development that they could work on. Should an employee move from the Rookie-level to the Professional level there must be an acknowledgement of the effort he/she has taken to get to that point and how it has not gone unnoticed. This will reinforce high standards of performance that will shift the organization into next gear. An employee will immediately feel obligated to continue in this fashion if they are rewarded in some way.

It is imperative for leaders to apply the best methods to increase and maintain optimal performance.

Performance levels are the backbone of a thriving business. It is imperative for leaders to apply the best methods to increase and maintain optimal performance. Ultimately, having the ability to identify the profile of where staff members are but more especially the detail of their behaviour at that point will serve you well in your efforts to build this function.

Noma Gama
Senior Talent Development Consultant

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