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Performance Management Challenges: How to Manage Independent Employees

Performance Management Software for Independent employees.

How can your per­for­mance man­age­ment sys­tem adapt to embrace employ­ee autonomy?

Every­one has their own pre­ferred way of oper­at­ing in the work­place. Some employ­ees are cau­tious, some work well with struc­ture and guid­ance, while oth­ers are far more inde­pen­dent and autonomous in their approach.

Inde­pen­dent employ­ees, also known as work­place rebels’, are peo­ple who resist author­i­ty, con­trol or tra­di­tion. At first sight, this might sound frus­trat­ing, but a work­place rebel isn’t always a bad thing. These employ­ees could just as like­ly be tal­ent­ed top per­form­ers who con­tribute great­ly to the over­all pro­duc­tiv­i­ty and per­for­mance of the business.

There’s been a lot of recent research into the ben­e­fits of auton­o­my in employ­ees. One study found that com­pa­nies whose employ­ees report­ed high lev­els of free­dom were 10 – 20 times more like­ly to out­per­form organ­i­sa­tions who were more con­trol­ling. Increas­ing lev­els of auton­o­my can also improve cre­ativ­i­ty, deci­sion mak­ing, job sat­is­fac­tion, intrin­sic moti­va­tion and loy­al­ty, and even reduce stress lev­els.

These are incred­i­ble ben­e­fits which sug­gest we should whole­heart­ed­ly wel­come inde­pen­dent employ­ees as part of our team. But how can man­agers do their jobs and effec­tive­ly man­age a work­place rebel — some­one who doesn’t want to be man­aged at all? Whether they like it or not, you need to stay on top of their per­for­mance. Their work­place pref­er­ences can’t impede your abil­i­ty to do your own job. Thank­ful­ly, there are ways to com­pro­mise and give your inde­pen­dent employ­ees room while ensur­ing every­one involved is con­tribut­ing, pro­gress­ing and content.

Below, we’ll cov­er how to adapt your per­for­mance man­age­ment sys­tem to get the most out of your work­place rebels.

Set­ting clear SMART objec­tives is critical

The set­ting of SMART objec­tives is always an inte­gral aspect of per­for­mance man­age­ment. But if your inde­pen­dent employ­ees want space and free­dom, it is more impor­tant than ever that they are clear on what is expect­ed of them and what tar­gets they are work­ing towards. It is also crit­i­cal that they keep you updat­ed on their progress.

Forbes rec­om­mends set­ting clear, mea­sur­able objec­tives. This way, if inde­pen­dent employ­ees fall short of expec­ta­tions, you can argue from the per­spec­tive of data, not opin­ion. There’s no prob­lem step­ping back and allow­ing employ­ees to do things in their own way, but when they fail to achieve their goals, they need to be made aware of how it impacts others.

We advise that employ­ees should col­lab­o­rate with man­agers on objec­tive set­ting rather than hav­ing objec­tives set from above. This adds a fur­ther lev­el of auton­o­my that inde­pen­dent employ­ees will appreciate.

Hold reg­u­lar one-on-one meet­ings to dis­cuss progress

If your inde­pen­dent employ­ee wants space and hates micro­man­age­ment, you should cer­tain­ly allow them this free­dom. How­ev­er, peri­od­ic check-ins are still impor­tant. We rec­om­mend month­ly check-ins with employ­ees. This allows you to build trust and hon­est com­mu­ni­ca­tion with your employ­ees. It also gives you the oppor­tu­ni­ty, as man­ag­er, to dis­cuss their goal progression.

Man­agers should com­mu­ni­cate that these meet­ings are as much for the employ­ees as they are for man­age­ment. Show you are will­ing to lis­ten to them and take their feed­back on board.

Always be on hand for in-the-moment feedback

Just because an employ­ee wants min­i­mal super­vi­sion, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be on hand at all times, in case your advice and guid­ance is need­ed. To effec­tive­ly man­age inde­pen­dent employ­ees, man­agers need access to a tool that allows for direct, instant feed­back. Our per­for­mance review soft­ware facil­i­tates in-the-moment feed­back across all devices, which will help you give recog­ni­tion and address issues with staff soon­er. It will also allow employ­ees to get on with their work in a more con­fi­dent manner.

Remind inde­pen­dent employ­ees that they are still part of a team

On occa­sion, inde­pen­dent employ­ees might need to be remind­ed that they are part of a wider team. They need to work along­side their employ­ees, they need to com­mu­ni­cate and they need to assist oth­ers when required. Auton­o­my is great, but when it gets in the way of team­work, man­agers need to step in and give employ­ees con­text on the big­ger pic­ture. Explain how oth­er peo­ple are rely­ing on them to do their job and to have cer­tain tasks com­plet­ed by a cer­tain time — oth­er­wise, the whole com­pa­ny is affected.

True inde­pen­dence can’t be grant­ed to under­per­form­ing employees

If employ­ees are per­form­ing spec­tac­u­lar­ly and with­out issue, they should cer­tain­ly be grant­ed high­er lev­els of free­dom. They have shown them­selves to be capa­ble and respon­si­ble while remain­ing team play­ers. How­ev­er, once out­put begins to slip, man­agers have a prob­lem. It sim­ply isn’t rea­son­able for under­per­form­ers to be grant­ed high lev­els of auton­o­my. These employ­ees will like­ly require extra super­vi­sion and assis­tance in order to get them on the right track. They might not like it, but under­per­for­mance has con­se­quences, and inde­pen­dent employ­ees need to be aware of this. If you need help in this area, we have advice on how to iden­ti­fy and man­age under­per­form­ers.

Our per­for­mance man­age­ment soft­ware is used by large and small com­pa­nies around the world to improve pro­duc­tiv­i­ty and employ­ee sat­is­fac­tion. To find out how we can ben­e­fit your busi­ness, book a free per­for­mance man­age­ment soft­ware demo now.