Friday, December 11, 2015

5 Steps to an Effective Performance Management Program

Annual appraisals are only one aspect of effective performance management

Jackie walked apprehensively into her supervisors office. They were meeting to discuss her annual appraisal. She was nervous about what her supervisor would discuss with her. During their meeting, Jackie and her supervisor discussed things that occurred during the past year that had effected Jackie's' overall performance. Often, Jackie would try to recall the various instances, but so much time had passed that she could not remember the exact details the same way her supervisor did. As the meeting went on, Jackie began to feel defensive and irritated. Finally, the meeting was drawing to a close and Jackie had already checked-out mentally. She was done with this meeting and just wanted to get back to work. Here supervisor handed her a list of areas Jackie was to work on improving in her assigned position at the company. Jackie took the list, shook her supervisors hand, and walked back to her desk feeling a bit flustered by the whole experience. She put the list of areas to improve in her drawer and never looked at it again. She went back to work, relived that she would not have to go through that again for another year.

What is performance management?
Performance management is about establishing a shared understanding, between the employee and employer, about what is to be achieved at an organizational level. It is about aligning the organizations objectives and expectations with the employees skills, competency requirements, and resources in order to achieve a desired result. With performance management, the emphasis is on improvement, learning, development, and reaching set goals in order to create a highly productive workforce.

Annual appraisals
It is important to understand that annual appraisals are only a part of a overall performance management strategy. However, far too often, many organizations hold these annual meetings as their entire performance management process. Annual appraisals are often perceived as a painful process, by both participants, that result in no real change or improvement in employee performance. By only having annual appraisals, results in unintentional outcomes:

  • Too painful, emotionally charged
  • Poor understanding of expectations
  • Misdirected bonuses (favorable review, but organizational goals not met)
  • Poorly timed
  • Subjective supervisor opinion
  • Missed development opportunities
Effective performance management
Performance management, when done correctly, effectively links the organizations plans and goals with the employees individual performance. When an employees individual performance helps an organization achieve its goals, that employee would then be rewarded with favorable reviews and possible bonuses that are in-line with the employees performance and contribution. Here is a basic outline of a performance management program:
  1. Initial Meeting - Face-to-face planning meeting between the supervisor and the employee. During this meeting, the supervisor and the employee will work together to establish objectives, development plan, and a competency review for the next 365 days.
  2. Continuous focus - During the next six months, both the supervisor and the employee should be taking notes independently documenting performance milestones, progression, and set-backs.
  3. Interim review - An abbreviated meeting should be held between the supervisor and the employee to measure progression toward the objectives as discussed in the initial meeting. This is also an opportunity to discuss any updates or changes to the objectives based on any change of the overall organizational goal. In addition, this is the time to discuss any additional resources or training the employee might need in order to reach the objective within the next six months.
  4. Continuous focus - During the next six months, both the supervisor and the employee should be taking notes independently documenting performance milestones, progression, and set-backs.
  5. Final review - At the end of the 365 day period, the supervisor and the employee will meet to determine if the objectives set during the initial meeting were met. If the objectives were met, then the supervisor would have some form of recognition for the employee upon meeting their objective. If the objectives were not met, then the supervisor and the employee would discuss the nature of the objective and if it was obtainable. In addition, a discussion about available resources and training would also take place at this time. This is not a meeting where only the supervisor does the talking. The determination of meeting the objective should be discussed and decided upon by both the supervisor and the employee. If the supervisor does not feel that the objective was met, but the employee does, then their was a communication gap during the initial meeting and the interim review.
Outcomes of an effective performance management program

There are clear signs of an effective performance management program within an organization:
  • Communication improves
  • Everyone knows the objectives and expectations
  • Improved documentation
  • Reduction of stress
  • Final review (appraisal) becomes relevant and effective
  • Learning and development becomes part of the organizational culture
The difference between a standalone annual appraisal and a performance management program is striking. Improving employee morale, reduced turnover, promoting the right people into the right positions, earned job performance recognition, and growing employee skill sets are but a few of the results that will occur when an organization has an effective performance management program in place.

For more information, please feel free to email

    To subscribe to this blog, enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner