Tips for starting a performance management process

Jan 30, 2014 | Performance Management Discussion

Good performance management can transform the culture of your organisation. It can:

  • Improve overall organisational performance using existing resources
  • Foster an environment for more open collaboration
  • Transform employee attitudes towards work
  • Create a more accountable system of working
  • Provide a framework to review and reward your employees’ work

From boosting employee morale to delivering bottom line benefits, performance management can be a game-changer in an organisation of any type or scale. But where do you start?


4 Key Areas To Focus On


1) Communication

Central to any performance management  is ensuring that everyone knows why you are doing it and what’s in it for them.  This will mean different things to different people; senior management team vs managers vs employees. But where it really counts is with your employees. If they see the benefits for them personally, you will get much better buy-in.


2) Education

It’s all very well having a process, but you must ensure that everyone knows how to actually do good performance reviews and act on the output from them, especially managers. Simple things like how to give constructive feedback, how to write good objectives or how to make development plans can make all the difference.


3) Consistency

Once you have the process in place, make sure it’s followed. Not just the reviews, but actions that come from them.


4) Leading by example

The performance management process is an inclusive one that the CEO and senior management must buy into to. They are not immune to the process and must follow it themselves. When developed and applied properly, it will become a component of organisational management that every employee takes seriously and follows diligently.



In more detail


Get employees excited about the process

You can do this by letting employees know what is in it for them, for instance:

  • It helps them with career development
  • It can identify parts of the job employees find difficult, frustrating or stressful and help them overcome those difficulties through training, support or finding better ways of working
  • Clearly defines what’s expected and can show them how they fit with the bigger picture. Well-defined objectives make it clear what is expected from employees. A clear understanding of shared goals will reinforce to employees the role they play towards driving organisational success
  • A performance review is as an opportunity for broader feedback, giving employees a platform for upward feedback or to share feedback on others, ensuring that no good deed ever gets forgotten
  • It’s a standardised procedure that helps ensure equitable treatment of employees


Create a solid performance review process

There is no magic formula for developing a performance management process. However, all good processes incorporate some common elements such as objective setting and quantifiable performance measurement.

Effective processes allow for a 360 degree feedback that gives employees a clear understanding about the impact of their performance not just at the project or process level, but also at the organisational level.

Good performance goes beyond effective application of skills. Softer factors like attitudes and behaviours play an important role in nurturing a positive and productive working environment. Disney and Ritz Carlton assess attitudinal issues to keep their workforce motivated and happy. Include such issues in your wider performance management framework to get a complete sense of just how valuable or toxic every employee is to your organisation.

Along with a comprehensive set of criteria for measuring performance, the process should also include identifying areas for development and a plan for improving in those areas.


Ensure that reviews are conducted properly

Managers responsible for performance reviews must follow best practices that allow the process to be effectively utilised and deliver the desired impact. These include establishing an environment that encourages two-way communication and open discussions. A consensus should be reached, next-cycle objectives must be set to make it clear what will be measured in the future and training/professional development should be identified.

Little and often:Annual performance reviews don’t work. Objectives change and the process must keep up. Also, if development plans are not being followed or are no longer appropriate, acting sooner rather than later is best for everyone.


Invest in the right performance management tools

 Lots of organisations stick to annual performance reviews because no one can stomach all the paperwork needed to conduct the reviews more frequently. Robust, easy to use, interactive and flexible performance review software can eliminate the paperwork typically associated with this process. Online software can also provide real-time information, ensuring you always know where you are and what’s going on.

Any tool you use is there to support the process, not be the process or get in its way.

If you really want to align your workforce, improve transparency and get things delivered, and ensure that the performance management software supports cascaded objectives. When objectives are linked together, everyone knows how they will fit with others’ and how they are contributing to the overall success of the organisation – a powerful motivator.

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