Effective Performance Management in 5 Steps

Your company’s most valuable asset is its people, and in order to get the most from your people, you need to manage their performance successfully. Of

Your company’s most valuable asset is its people, and in order to get the most from your people, you need to manage their performance successfully. Of course, only your employees themselves are ultimately in charge of their own performance, but you can give them the insights and feedback they need to reach their goals and deliver top performance.

Effective performance management keeps employee morale high, and helps employees continue to grow in their roles. Employees need to feel like they’re growing, and they need clear goals and support to perform at their best. Follow these steps to make your performance management more effective.

1) Measure a Baseline

Before you can manage someone’s performance in any meaningful way, you need to know where your employees are right now. You can’t measure someone’s improvement if you don’t have a starting point for comparison. 

Figure out what your employee’s baseline performance is right now, today. Use measurable metrics. For example, in a call center, measure how many calls an employee is taking per day, the length of the calls, and the feedback he or she is getting from callers. Later, you can use that data to determine whether the employee is taking more calls, spending longer on the phone (or not as long, if that’s what you’re going for), and getting positive feedback from callers. 

2) Use the Appropriate Tools

The right performance management tool can minimize the amount of time you spend on performance management, while maximizing your efficiency. Managing employee performance means working with a dizzying number of data points. The right software solution can help you keep track of all that data and what it means for your employees. You can also collaborate with employees to establish performance goals, give feedback, and even have one-on-one meetings.  

3) Communicate Expectations

If you only give your employees performance feedback once a year during annual performance reviews, then you only have yourself to blame if they’re not meeting your expectations. Any given employee could have been underperforming for months, even the whole year, and not know it if the only feedback they get is at annual review time.

Employees need to know what’s expected of them all year long. They need performance feedback in real time. That means giving regular feedback, perhaps as regular as every day. If you own a restaurant, you can pull your staff together for a performance meeting after every shift, to go over what went wrong and what went right and how the team can improve for the next shift. If you run a team in an office setting, perhaps you could have monthly or bi-monthly meetings with your team to discuss what needs to improve or be done differently, and what’s going well. Deliver performance feedback as often as possible so that employees have a chance to improve their shortcomings in a timely fashion.

4) Follow Up

If you just tell someone they need to do something and then never follow up on it – and they know you’re not going to follow up on it – then there’s a non-zero chance they won’t do it at all. Following up is a huge piece of the puzzle when it comes to managing employee performance effectively. 

When you give an employee feedback on something he or she needs to improve, you should sit down with that person and make a plan for the improvement to happen. Maybe that means additional training. It will usually involve improving metrics related to job performance. Measure their progress and hold them accountable for developing any skills that they need to perform better.

5) Build on the Positives

Even poor-performing employees have things they succeed at, and when an employee succeeds at one part of their professional development plan, you should help them spread that success to other areas of their job. Celebrate with them, and encourage them to turn these feelings of success into confidence that can help them improve in other areas. Perhaps they can set a goal to make more sales calls, complete needed training, or mentor a new employee. As the employee builds on his or her successes, encourage him or her to reach for even more ambitious goals.

Effective performance management takes a lot more than just annual performance reviews. You need to give your employees honest feedback in real-time, help them set and reach goals, and create an environment in which success builds on success. When you’re helping your employees grow and build skills, they’ll bring more value to the company, and everyone will win.