Using Performance Management to Motivate a Disaffected Team

Heather Foley, etsplc.com

If you're in charge of a team, you'll appreciate that they're rather tricky animals. At times, all appears well, but you're achieving little. At other times, you're reaching your targets, but there's unhappiness and resentment. If your team has become disaffected, then it's time to rely on performance management to set people straight again. Following a four-step program should ensure success.


It's vital to establish why a team is disaffected. Usually, it's related to performance – of the entire team or of an individual. The cause may be that the wrong objectives have been set. Perhaps your team members feel their objectives are not achievable or not realistic? Performance management will help you to review these targets.

Implement Performance Management

Performance management works best when there is an atmosphere of honesty and openness. Try to encourage this in your people. Clear objectives also need to be set. Ensure they are SMARTER (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound, evaluated and re-evaluated). This useful mnemonic was developed from George T. Doran's comments in Management Review and has been in use ever since.

Help your team members understand how they can achieve these targets. They shouldn't leave the preventive maintenance program until they are clear about the steps they should take to improve their work.

Giving clear feedback is essential. Many managers, directors and even CEOs fear giving feedback. Perhaps this is because they see feedback as criticism. However, this couldn't be further from the truth. No one can be expected to improve without being told in which areas they need to improve and which steps they should take to go about it. When giving feedback, it's helpful to categorize it as “feedback,” making your intention of offering support evident.

Set Goals

Ensure that any targets are clearly aligned to your company's objectives. The work that your teams carry out should be considered within the work of the company as a whole. Make this as explicit as possible. Your employees need to know that their work matters and has relevancy within the company.


As soon as objectives are met, ensure you praise, reward and promote. Your team members must see that you, too, have an eye on their targets. The promise of promotion is a real motivator.

Disaffected teams can be extremely detrimental to any business. When people perform poorly or in a negative atmosphere, no output, no matter how successful, will be sustainable. Fortunately, performance management can tackle the problem head on. Individuals, teams and, ultimately, the company will benefit from a more positive working environment, which can only improve results. Who wouldn't want that?

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About the Author

Heather Foley is a consultant at etsplc.com, a UK-based human resources consultancy specializing in 360 degree feedback.