Social workers play a vital role in achieving better outcomes for individuals and on World Social Work Day we have an extra reason to celebrate social work. I have been working with social workers in one local authority and have taken away some key lessons about relationships in social work.
In my previous blogpost ‘Remembering why you get out of bed in the morning and come to work’, I wrote about ‘Primed’ performance – the importance of reconnecting the workforce both to their moral purpose (which gets them out of bed in the morning) and to the need to deliver measurable results. In this follow up, I want to set out a bit more detail about how we achieve this – using a new approach to performance management, Primed Performance Management.
What makes our approach different? The key to this lies in the first step – which traditional approaches often miss out – which is to find out if the team members know why their team exists.
We classify the current state of the team in terms of clarity of purpose:
This focus on the purpose of the service, rather than on efficiency or cost, makes the discussion meaningful to staff at all levels and provides the basis for driving the desired behaviours.
Here are my top 6 tips for delivering high quality Primed Performance Management in your service:
- Realistic performance expectations take into account demand spikes, team capacity, sickness etc and will vary across the year – so factor this in.
- 30% of the success of the approach is down to the data you record – and 70% is down to what you do with it.
- Think carefully about group dynamics when bringing people together; there are often historic performance issues in the room. Taking time to understand team and individual concerns before starting will enable you to frame the conversation in a way that avoids fear/disengagement/ derailment.
- Simplify what is there already – don’t make it additive. Start by understanding what is in place already (spreadsheets, reports, meetings etc).
- Consider the discussion and meeting points needed to make sure the right meetings are in place to enable honest and meaningful ‘top down’ and ‘bottom up’ discussion of performance.
- Think about training for middle managers (eg. how to plan and run effective team meetings, convey performance messages, and set realistic performance expectations).
In my next blogpost, I will explore Primed Performance Metrics in more detail.