Performance management is about so much more than just individual reviews and assessments. It’s an ongoing process that involves identifying goals, tracing the steps to take towards those goals and monitoring the progress that is made. Rather than something that happens once, maybe twice, a year, performance management is an ongoing process of guiding employees in the direction of progress. Although essential, performance management is often not a skill that many managers have – but it’s something that every great manager needs to learn.
Performance management skills and techniques
The ability to use SMART goal setting
Guiding employees onward with SMART goals is a very useful technique for performance management. Those goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. They should integrate the overall values and vision of the business but also be broken down into achievable steps for the employee to follow.
A system of ongoing feedback
Giving constructive feedback can be essential to employee progress. However, so many organisations wait to provide this feedback at a single performance review. More effective is an approach by which feedback is given as soon as the event or experience that triggered it has happened. Finding ways to instantly feed back to employees will make it much easier to manage performance on an ongoing basis.
Balancing analysing the past with looking to the future
Performance reviews often get too bogged down by what an employee has already done. Whether these are achievements or moments that left room for improvement, it’s never particularly constructive to dwell on them for too long. It’s essential to be able to balance this assessment with a forward-looking approach to achieve great performance management.
Reflections on the past are always best positioned in the context of what could be done better in the future. Identify obstacles, issues, slow progress, as well as wider situations that may be affecting the team and then look for solutions, as opposed to getting stuck in too much analysis of historical events.
Keep it simple
It often seems that the less frequent a performance review is, the more complex it tends to be. Steer clear of extensive questionnaires, lists or forms to fill in and instead have regular face-to-face performance management sessions that require little or no preparation.
These meetings can highlight issues, deal with areas where the employee needs help, identify achievements that can be built on and shift priorities appropriately. Most importantly of all, these regular management meetings ensure that communication is positive and frequent.
Give the process credit
Perhaps the most important part of performance management is gaining an understanding of just how important it really is. Managers who are doing it simply to tick the right box are unlikely to see – or reap – the full potential of successful performance management. It’s crucial to get behind the process and the vision to see real results.
Our Performance Management course gives managers practical ways to help employees set and achieve realistic objectives. It’s ideal for those who are looking to improve performance management techniques.