Forget the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe…..

How about the Wand the Whip and the Carrot?

How do you manage performance in your organisation?

The Wand

Using your magic wand to sprinkle a little pixie dust over the people in your organisation; make them all feel good for a while. Lovely!

The Whip

Using a big stick to threaten and scare people to work harder. It’s always worked in the past hasn’t it?

The Carrot

This one encourages the right behaviours and discourages unhelpful behaviours.

All of these approaches have an impact on performance, but only the carrot creates a sustainable change in behaviour.

Performance management is a bad thing though isn’t it?

Very often the mere words, performance management, instil dread; a sense that something bad is going to happen to someone (hopefully not you!!).

It doesn’t have to be like that.

Defining what ‘good’ looks like, enables you to acknowledge good performance, encouraging desired behaviours to be replicated by others.

“Thank you” for a job well done is welcome, but doesn’t help the person understand specifically what it was that they did which was particularly helpful, or made a difference.

“Thank you” on its own is pixie dust. It has an immediate feel good factor, but does not always translate into continuing performance.

How do you manage performance?

Define Performance Starting with the end in mind.  Defining the   outcomes you are looking for, or what ‘good’ looks like. Performance definition, on its own, is not always enough, however, It does not clarify the expected observable behaviours.
Set up for Success Defining   what ‘good’ looks like.E.g. A professional who continually over-delivers, constantly agreeing to extra work.  As their manager you be pleased, but the impact on the organisation and the individual may not so positive.If  good performance is defined as ‘to deliver xxxx outcomes’, this could lead to a the individual feeling that they need to deliver no matter what the personal impact on them is.  However, if performance is further explained by….- deliver the outcomes in a way that does not impact other commitments

– ensuring that any obstacles or issues are dealt with in a timely way, and

– keeping your manager informed at all times

The professional can then understand how they  achieve the performance required.

Monitor & Review performance For improved performance you need to monitor performance and provide clear, structured feedback that enables the other person to stop, start or continue the behaviours or activities observed.If the behaviours expected have been clearly defined, it is much easier to give meaningful feedback at review stage. The individual can then take responsibility for their actions and adapt their behaviour.
Respond Engendering sustainable change by the over-deliverer stopping, starting or continuing the   desired activities or behaviours


Whether you use the wand the whip or the carrot, there will be no change unless you are clear about your expectations, not just the ‘WHAT’, also the ‘HOW’.

For help and support to introduce a positive performance management culture in your organisation contact:

Jane               07977 932551, Nicola             07799 237479

Employment Contracts

Owner-employee contracts

George Osborne recently announced the government’s plans to introduce a new type of employment contract known as an ‘owner-employee’ contract.

An interesting concept, modelled on the John Lewis Partnership approach, but going one HUGE step further. In return for shares (£2000 – £50000) employees will be expected to give up some of their employee rights!

Consultation is due to start on this latest hare-brained idea. At the moment we are very light on detail, but plans are to have this ready to introduce for April 2013.

This proposed owner-employer contract will be an interesting challenge for organisations, but what about your current employment contracts?

Why do you need contracts of employment?

An employment contract exists as soon as an employee accepts the job offer, but there is an additional requirement for you to provide a written statement of the main terms of employment within two months of the employee starting work.

The main benefit to the practice of having a written employment contract is that, in addition to being compliant with current legislation, it reduces the likelihood of disputes with your employee at a later date, and helps employees understand their employment rights.

Case   study – a small Company had attempted to introduce a new contract to reflect the changes in legislation 3 years ago, but had not followed it through. Resulting in many staff having nothing more than a basic offer letter in place . In addition to non-compliance with the written particulars requirement, when a dispute arose relating to working hours the firm did not have the current arrangements documented and faced losing the tribunal case.

Do your contracts reflect current legislation and practice?

  • When did you last review your employment contract?
  • Does it still contain a retirement age?
  • Does it include reference to a email and internet usage or social media?
  • Does it reflect the reality of the current contract?
    • Are current salary and working hours up to date?
    • Are the job title and duties still appropriate?
    • Has anything else changed?

Often employment contracts are written at a point in time and then never updated. As employment legislation is constantly changing this means your employment contract is quickly out of date.

What do you need to do to be compliant?

A quick audit of your employment contracts will highlight any changes are needed. Once identified new contracts or contract amendment letters can be drawn up, changes communicated with employees, employment contracts signed and put on file.

Depending on how many changes or how fundamental those changes are, you may need to enter into consultation with your employees. Often this can be handled in a low key, non-confrontational manner to ensure you achieve the outcome needed.

Employment contract review is an activity that no-one wants to deal with as it is seen as a time consuming, confrontational process, which does not appear to add value to the firm.

Athena Professional can help you both identify what needs to be done and to ensure that the necessary actions are taken.


Jane: T: 07977 932551 or

Nicola: T: 07799 237479