Performance management

22 December 2020

No one likes to feel like they’re stuck in one place at work.

Improvement benefits everyone within a company. An individual can grow and gain more satisfaction from their role. A team can learn new skills to make work life easier for everyone within it.

Naturally, these improvements make a company more productive and efficient. And in many cases, successful.

Managers often set employees goals with performance management cycles, or performance management systems. These will maintain methods for improvement, while also tracking progress.

What is performance management?

Performance management focuses on improving employee performance. This applies to an individual or department within a company. 

It is the communication and actioning of goals set between a manager and an employee. This is usually overseen by a line manager. 

Gauging an employee’s performance isn’t always clear. Whether it’s an individual or a team, a management process needs to set clear goals. 

These goals can include several different factors. These include contributing to team efforts or personal targets. Establishing these goals are essential, as well as creating an extensive review progress.

This is what makes performance management so important. It can make the difference between sorrow and success for a member of the team.

SMART goals

SMART goals are key for good performance management and make it simple to review progress during a performance appraisal.

But what is a SMART goal?

SMART is an acronym for the following:

  • Specific: this refers to a goal needing to be clear and specific. Both the employee and the manager should understand what to expect from a goal. This includes the end-result of the goal, how to achieve it, and why it’s being set.

  • Measurable: this refers to understanding how to measure successes or failures of the goal. This includes that the goal should have a clear method in which to measure this. It can take the form of detailing any progress and what makes the goal complete.

  • Achievable: this refers to simply making the goal achievable. A worthy goal should be challenging to the employee, yet not impossible. Employees and managers should collaborate on this goal. It should clearly establish the balance between necessary and challenging.

  • Relevant: this refers to how useful the goal is to the employee, their team and the company as a whole. During this stage of the process, it is fine to abandon a goal and establish a new goal if needed.

  • Time-bound: finally, this refers to what time limit there is for achieving a goal. This should include a set deadline, from start to completion, as well as what each step requires.

These SMART goals will be a part of any approach. These work in tandem with each of the stages of performance management. This includes the planning stage, acting, tracking, and reviewing. 

Performance management approaches

When looking to improve a company’s performance, it may be worth considering different performance management approaches. 

These approaches usually determine what type of performance needs to be managed. These include:

  • Declarative knowledge: this includes facts, principles, and goals. Otherwise considered the result of actions, plans, or performances.

  • Procedural knowledge: this includes cognitive, psychomotor, physical and interpersonal skills. Otherwise considered ‘knowing what to do and how to do it’.

  • Motivation: this includes the willingness to perform, judged by the level of effort input, the persistence of that effort and, above all else, the choice to perform.

Some of these approaches consider performance management cycles. 

These are effective systems for improving employee performance.

There are some variations of these cycles, yet they roughly have the same stages:

  • Plan: planning involves setting goals for an employee. These goals aim to improve themselves professionally and develop their skills. This can also involve plans for improving a team or an entire department.

  • Act: acting involves the steps that work towards completing any established goals. Acting can include employees asking for help from other members as well as those in management.

  • Track: tracking progress is just as important as making progress. By making notes of any progress, tracking goals makes it easier to repeat successes and avoid failures.

    It also helps to keep track of a timeline of progress made with a deadline. This will ensure the achievement of a goal in an acceptable amount of time.

  • Review: the final process yet arguably the most important. Reviewing the result of goals in progress, as well as understanding what worked and what didn’t during the process. These factors make it easier to ensure goals remain met and to repeat successes in the future.

    Discussing the progress of goals is important too. Even if the goals aren’t complete, reviewing can help complete them. Even with achieved goals, reviewing the progress explores if there’s room to improve.

Using these steps, the performance management process can largely adhere to two different approaches. 

The first is the more well-known approach. It is what many companies will traditionally use, such as an annual review. This approach sees both the manager and the employee consider any potential improvements.

However, many have dismissed this process as being ineffective. This is due to how long it can take between deciding upon a goal and reviewing how the progress of any set goals.

360-degree feedback

Another approach is the more modern take on performance management. This involves 360-degree feedback and continuous support. 

The process takes place with each stage occurring on a weekly or monthly basis. It involves consistent, real-time feedback that addresses an employee’s progress. 

Instead of annual reviews or setting large goals, the modern approach to performance management aims to address goals piece by piece.

Benefits of performance management

Regardless of the chosen method, there are many benefits to undergoing performance management.

From the planning phase to the completion of a goal, performance management often allows both employees and managers to address any issues. 

Benefits of performance management include:

  • Improving employee engagement: engagement can include improving an employee or team’s skills or working towards their goals. By consistently reviewing progress, the next stages for goals and improvements become clear.

  • Easier to discuss goals: frequent conversations makes it easier to pinpoint stages of progression. Thanks to this, managers and employees will have opportunities to overcome challenges or request help. If done right, this will help employees feel more confident that they have help from managers if it’s required.

  • Coaching for employees: if any halts to progress found during a performance review presents an ideal opportunity for coaching. Frequent reviewing means that both employees and managers can be clear about any ways that progress towards a goal has met a roadblock. With any roadblock comes the opportunity for more training. This training can be incredibly beneficial to both an employee and the company as a whole.

  • Giving real-time feedback: real-time feedback is one of the greatest benefits of continuously managing performance. Ensuring that the employee has access to a reliable source of feedback from management is only beneficial. It provides confidence to the employee. It also ensures management that there aren't any issues or impediment to progress.

Performance management by Peninsula

It can be difficult to determine how to begin or progress with performance management. Ensuring that an employee, a team or a department meets their goals is vital to any business.

Peninsula provides help and advice so that no one feels like they can’t achieve their goals.

Our 24/7 HR advice service makes it easy to help with performance management. For any more help, you can get in touch with our HR specialists. Call us today on 0800 051 3638


Suggested Resources