9 Factors to Improve Your Performance Management

30 January 2023 | 4 Minute
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9 Factors to Improve Your Performance Management

The performance management process has existed in the workplace for decades. And although it's not a new concept, it's certainly one that has changed over time and often differs from business to business. Some organisations may be firm believers of annual appraisals, and others have scrapped them altogether. 

However, if you're an organisation that does believe in an employee performance management system, here are the nine things we believe you should consider in your performance management process to make improvements and see the optimal benefits.

A Brief History Of The Performance Management Process

It’s believed that performance appraisals were introduced around the first World War. However, it wasn't until the 1940s that the performance management process began to become more established and well-known in the workplace, and by the 1960s, it was thought that 90% of US companies used such a system. The process developed further when the concept of self-appraisal was introduced by many, so the process became more rounded and sought to look at an employee’s potential and was more forward-thinking using goals and objectives.

Today however, appraisals or performance management reviews are different once again as there is a lot more focus on the employee and their engagement and motivation with the inclusion of multiple feedback insights from peers, managers and other colleagues etc and the help of technology.


What Should An Employee Performance Management System Include?


1. Clear Communication

Don't just tell an employee that you fancy a quick chat with them and turn it into a performance review discussion, as this will catch them off guard and won't give them time to prepare.

So, book the time with them in advance and be clear about what they will discuss with you, so they are not put on the spot.


2. Manager Preparation

Don't be the manager who attends a performance review meeting with no feedback, examples, figures or evidence. Whether you want to praise someone for a job well done or need them to step up in an area, it's going to be a lot easier to do and more effective for the individual if you have examples that you have spent time and effort looking at. 

Not only does this strengthen the conversation, but it also shows the employee that you are interested, and that you have bothered to focus on them.


3. Considered Timing

So how often should you carry out performance reviews? This will depend on your organisation, but if you only do meetings annually, there's a lot to cover. Plus, it's easy to forget what somebody's worked on or to remember accurate feedback. Therefore, it's better to hold them every three or six months, so the information and feedback are fresh.

And make sure you book them in and don’t cancel reviews unless you have no other choice!


4. An Open Mind

Ideally, when you and your employee meet during the performance review process, there will be no surprises about what either of you says. However, you never know if your employee will use it as an opportunity to voice a concern or give feedback you weren't expecting.

So approach it with an open mind, but also ensure you use it as a review meeting and not a general catch-up.


5. Listening To Employees

A performance review meeting is a two-way conversation where you and the individual should speak, give feedback and discuss past and future development. It is not an opportunity to pinpoint their mistakes  and not hear what they have to say.

In a survey by the Workforce Institute, 1 in 4 employees said they do not feel heard at their workplace, and 86% feel that others in their organisation are not heard fairly or equally.


6. Collecting 360-Degree Feedback

360-degree feedback may be a specific part of the performance review process at your organisation, however, if it's not, it's really useful to collect feedback from various others. This gives a better overview of the individual, gives you a more rounded view of the person and also gives them feedback they may not have been aware of.


7. A Focus On The Future

There's a fine line between reflecting on the past few months and being forward-thinking. You do need to discuss and reflect on the months since the last performance review and look at performance against the objectives. Then, you can discuss what comes next and focus on future performance and objectives.


8. An Opportunity To Be Constructive, Not Critical

The clue is in the title, as the performance management process is there to review an employee’s performance and look at ways they could be achieving more or where they are in relation to their objectives. Performance reviews are not an excuse to pull individuals up on their behaviour or criticise them; they are about helping individuals achieve objectives and stay on track.


9. Development Discussions

The performance management process is also a good opportunity to discuss development options with an employee. Day-to-day work can be busy, and it's easy to overlook development opportunities, but during the process meetings, you can discuss where development might be needed or wanted.

These nine factors are really important to practise during your performance management process. It’s also essential to remember that the process is continuous, and as a manager, you need to offer ongoing support to your people and keep conversations going. 

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