Managing Employee Performance

Learn how performance management tools and systems can help foster quality, growth-centric conversations, continuous feedback cycles, frequent check-ins, ongoing coaching, and career development opportunities.

What is Performance Management?

Performance management is an ongoing process of communication between a supervisor and an employee that occurs throughout the year. The purpose has always been to assess employee performance compared to company goals and set additional goals for the upcoming year. Employee performance reviews tend to focus on the employee expectations of merit increase and bonuses, as well as clarifying expectations, setting objectives, identifying goals, providing feedback, and reviewing areas for performance improvement.

Employers need to note that these employee reviews have a huge impact on how satisfied, motivated, and productive their employees are. If avoided, you are risking the potential for decreased employee morale, the credibility of management, decreased retention, and your organization’s overall effectiveness.

69% of employees say they would work harder if they felt their efforts were better recognized, according to Gallup.

Performance Management Trends

Employee Annual Review

Employees are no longer satisfied with a formal—and not always helpful—annual review accompanied with radio silence the remainder of the year. Times are changing and the recent trend has affected how companies manage and support employees.

Changing Trends

The change in trends has caused companies to move away from the traditional annual performance appraisal and transition towards ongoing reviews. In lieu of an annual review, more informal, regular conversations between managers and employees promote career development and encourage appropriate goal-setting. Additionally, this structure of open and ongoing communication creates the most effective environment to cultivate leaders within the organization.

As a recent SHRM article put it—

“Performance management should enable employee effectiveness, improve employee engagement, develop talent, and ensure retention of top performers through career transparency and growth opportunities.”

Performance Management Case Study

Performance Management Processes

Ongoing performance conversations enable managers to check in on short-term goals, help employees struggling with a specific task, and ensure your team is staying on track with larger learning and development goals. It allows for a more closely followed natural cycle of work since it switches the focus of reviews from past performance to present performance. Ultimately, it delivers higher rates of engagement, productivity, and enables development and retention.

Regular Feedback

Regular feedback is important to employees and organizational growth for the same reason coaching is important to athletes and team performance. Data shows that humans perform better when they’re supported and coached. People want to be good at their jobs, and most of them want to grow professionally and take on more responsibility over time. It’s objectively good for people and for the organizations they serve, and feedback makes that possible.

Switching to Ongoing Communication

Switching to ongoing communication provides feedback that can be relevant and useful today, for example:

1. Continuous coaching

2. Growth-centric conversations

3. Increased visibility and accountability

4. Ability to address communication gaps

5. Skill development and growth

1:1 Meetings

Perhaps the most important factor in any performance management strategy is 1:1 (one-to-one) meetings. A 1:1 is a regularly scheduled meeting that managers hold with each of their direct reports to provide an open forum for dialogue on the full scope of an employee’s role within the organization.

Implementation

Implementing this ongoing review process can help to avoid issues that arise when managers fail to consistently track performance over an entire year. This can lead to missing key information come time for the annual review.

According to management research firm, CEB (now Gartner), 95% of managers are dissatisfied with the way their companies conduct performance reviews, and nearly 90% of HR leaders say the process doesn’t even yield accurate information.

One to One Meetings Are Key

Organizations that prioritize 1:1 meetings between managers and their employees establish a consistent and reliable channel for mission-critical information to get to the right places (both upward and downward on the organizational chart). Some information that needs to be communicated just doesn’t lend itself to a monthly status update or ad-hoc email. What if someone has an innovative idea that’s only 20% baked and not quite ready for a presentation to the executive team? How else are they going to get support and feedback from a manager? 1:1 meetings are designed to address this communication gap.

These weekly meetings don’t have a prescribed recurring agenda. They are meant to be an informal outlet for managers and employees to set expectations, discuss goals and challenges, track progress, and identify areas for improvement.

In a recent report, Gallup asserted that only 30% of employees strongly agree that their manager involves them in goal setting.

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One to One Implementation Strategy

You might be asking yourself how you can inspire employee excellence by implementing a continuous performance management review strategy within your organization. Let’s discuss the basics:

Determine a frequency: weekly is recommended.

Schedule reoccurring meetings: 30 to 90 minutes should suffice.

Implement a form of documentation: it’s important to gather all correspondence and remain compliant by allowing managers to see communication and feel confident employees are receiving coaching.

Document process expectations:

Agendas: require employees to send 1:1 agendas at least 24 hours before the 1:1 to allow managers time to respond with additional notes or agenda items to add.

Recaps: within 24 hours following a 1:1 the employee should send a detailed summary of discussions. Managers should respond to the summary clarifying any points requiring summarization from the manager.

Once you have a grasp on the basics above, you should communicate the processes you have come up with to management and HR professionals to ensure your company philosophy, mission, and values are woven into expectations.

Next, convene an all-employee meeting to explain the reason and process for implementing this great feedback tool. Be sure to provide examples and answer any questions that arise during the meetings. To get a jumpstart on 1:1 agenda items and promote development, you could even use this meeting to have employees complete a self-evaluation for the upcoming discussion.

Finally, following the all-employee meeting, managers should send out a reoccurring calendar event invite to their employees to ensure meeting attendance.

68% of employees who receive accurate and consistent feedback feel fulfilled in their jobs, according to this press release.

How to Provide Employee Feedback

Many managers feel that feedback can lead to an uncomfortable work environment, thus they shy away from the feedback process believing that it does more harm than good. However, employees actually want to receive more feedback, it just comes down to how managers communicate.

6 Ways to Provide Employee Feedback

1. Make regular check-ins a norm: Employee feedback works best when it’s treated as a continuous process so you can address problems as they arise.

2. Don’t overcompensate: Many managers like to share a piece of constructive feedback with two positive compliments. Integrating this sort of feedback can make employees receptive to work on the negatives.

3. It’s a two-way street: Turn constructive feedback into a conversation. Be open to listening to employees’ reasons behind their problem areas.

4. Provide explanations: Provide real-time and actionable reasoning behind your feedback in order to give a clear roadmap to employees on how to go forward with the received feedback.

5. Set expectations: The ending of the feedback sessions is just as important as the beginning. Reaffirm your expectations to set employees up to understand what needs to be improved.

6. Follow-through: It’s your responsibility to support the employee through their journey of improvement. Additionally, plan to meet soon after your one-to-one to discuss the progress.

Feedback isn’t the easiest thing to provide to your employees. But if approached correctly, it’s a great way to establish your company’s goals and set effective performance standards from your employees.

One to One Meeting Samples

The best way to discuss issues, develop relationships, and make sure employees’ goals are being met is by holding one to one meetings. It sounds simple, but in order for them to be effective, there’s more to it than just sitting down and having a conversation. Document all parts of your meetings so you can successfully review and follow-up in your next one to one. To help you get started, we’re providing you with a sample one to one agenda, summary and common questions to ask.

Sample One to One Agenda:

Managers should communicate the importance of sending one to one agendas at least 24 hours in advance of the scheduled meeting in order to provide themselves enough time to prepare and add additional items as needed. Below is a sample agenda template you can share with your employees to give them an idea of how this should look:

Hi (manager), 

Below outlines the topics I would like to address in our one to one tomorrow:

  • Pulse check –  how am I doing? What can I improve on? 
  • Review draft for (upcoming project) 
  • PTO request on (date) 

Do you have anything to add to our agenda? 

Thanks,

(employee)

Sample One to One Summary:

Employees should be held responsible for sending a one to one recap within 24 hours of the meeting so you have a documented meeting to refer back to. As necessary, managers should add to summaries. Below is a sample summary:

Hi (manager), 

Here’s a recap of our discussions:

  1. Pulse check –
    • How am I doing? My confidence has increased causing my sales to improve.
    • What can I improve on? Studying my sales script so it sounds more natural than reading the document.
  2. Review draft for (upcoming project) –
    • You mentioned adding ______ to the document
    • I will send you my final copy by the end of the week for approval
  3. PTO request on (date) –
    • You approved this day and I will add it to my shared work calendar

Am I missing anything?

Thanks,

(employee)

Common Topics

If you’re unsure of what to talk about in your one to ones, remember it’s an open environment that’s used to ask questions, gather feedback and discuss goals. Here are a few performance management topics to help you get a jump start:

  1. Short and long-term priorities
  2. Feedback on assignments
  3. Check-in on goals 
  4. Identify and resolve roadblocks
  5. Celebrate successes 
  6. Identify what worked well (and didn’t) on recent projects
  7. Career goals
  8. Learning opportunities
  9. Ask for feedback from a manager perspective
  10. Schedule your next meeting

Conclusion

If conducted correctly and frequently, performance appraisals will reap positive effects on the success of your team. Once a year is not enough to grasp how well your employees are performing or how satisfied they are. Consider all of the positives, and then take steps to guarantee continuous success by providing ongoing communications.

96% of employees say receiving feedback regularly is a good thing, according to The State of Employee Engagement.

Providing continuous and high-quality feedback to improve performance and inspire employees is not an easy task. Ensure high-quality feedback and improvement by adding BerniePortal Performance Management to your toolbox.

Building a Performance Management Process

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