Four Strategies to Improve Performance Management


Now that 2018 is quickly coming to close, managers must prepare for the performance management season and hold performance discussions with their employees.

The performance review season requires managers to assess the performance of their employees over the last year, provide feedback on goal achievement, identify opportunities for development, and provide a final rating.

While the process of performance management varies from company to company, with some companies holding annual feedback discussions, other companies building a robust process for performance discussions occurring quarterly, and other companies eliminating stacked ranking and ratings in general, one thing remains constant, performance discussions are not successful without a deep focus on communication.

Performance management does not work if the organization does not know how to provide feedback and how to communicate effectively. 

Organizations must learn how to equip managers with the skills to provide feedback to employees within the organization.  Feedback is critical to the success of any performance management program.  It requires managers to be empathic and to ensure a process of two-way communication between the manager and employees.  These conversations allow managers to share the organizational strategies, level set the manager's expectation of the employee, gather input from the employees, discuss the performance metrics, and determine how the manager expects the individual to achieve these goals. 

While these conversations occur in some fashion in many organization’s, the performance management process still continues to be a struggle for most organizations.  Both managers and employees equally hate the performance management process:

  • “Employees say they their organization’s performance management system does not reward high performance, deal effectively with poor performers or motivate them to improve.
  • Managers say that the process is too time-consuming and burdensome, taking them away from “real work.”
  • Executives do not believe that performance ratings are accurate reflections of performance, making it difficult to use these ratings as the basis of talent decisions.”

Performance management becomes a tangled web of weave by attempting to serve many purposes.  The performance management process assesses for compensation increases, is the basis for talent decision, career development, and serves as documentation for labor relations.

With all the challenges of the performance management process, many organizations still utilize it and must find a way to make it work.  There are a few key components that must be incorporated into your performance process: 

  • Flexibility
    • The performance management process must be flexible and allow for a shift in an individual’s goal and performance expectations allowing for alignment with the organization’s strategy
    1. Frequent conversations (Coaching and Feedback)
      • Managers must have more frequent conversations with employees. Share information about the organizational direction and departmental goals.  Did the organizational strategies change?  Is there an impact on their goals?  Help employees to connect the dots so that they can work on the right initiatives that will add value to the organization and achieve key business objectives. 
      1. Keep it simple
        • The performance management process is so complex and requires thousands of hours from managers. Managers complain about the process because it takes time away from their jobs.  Simplify the process for both managers and employees.
        1. Remove bias
          • Many employees perceive the performance management process to be unfair and biased. Employees believe that managers provide favorable ratings and compensation to their favorite employees.  Ensure that performance outcomes are fair and valid.



          SHRM. (2017, December). Performance Management that Makes a Difference: An Evidenced-Based Approach. Retrieved from views/Documents/Performance%20Management.pdf

          Photo by Shopify Partners from Burst