Planning a Perfect Performance Management Process From Start to Finish

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Mention performance management, and employees and managers alike will wrinkle their noses in disgust. This is because many don’t understand the true goals and benefits of great performance management processes.

Performance management is an ongoing process designed to benchmark and improve employees’ work results and, by extension, the company’s overall success. That’s why so many thought leaders spend so much time discussing the best ways to build performance culture.

Understanding Performance Management

The performance management process for any given role needs to start with outlining the purpose of the job, the job duties, and the key responsibilities of the role. Sound like a job description? It is! You can use your job descriptions — provided they aren’t hopelessly out of date — to get your performance management process off to a good start.

Once you have a clear understanding of the role, you need to define relevant goals and KPIs associated with the role. Think about the desired outcomes, assuming an employee performs at 100 percent of their capacity. Those are the goals you can start with.

Once you have the goals laid out, you can put them in order of importance. This will serve you well when directing employees in their daily activities. While doing this, get input from employees on the ground to understand how long certain activities should take, what the results should look like, and what the general standards are. This will ensure the expectations you set for reach employee are realistic.

Next, determine when and how performance conversations will occur. Will you have daily informal conversations? Weekly roundtables? Monthly meetings? Formal quarterly or biannual reviews? Choose whichever option works best for your employees and the company.

One final thing to keep in mind: Managers and executives shouldn’t be the only ones giving feedback during the performance management process, and a successful performance management strategy must ensure everyone is accountable, including company leaders. Give employees the opportunity to weigh in and offer their own performance insights via a 360-degree feedback process in which employees are encouraged to share feedback with their peers and superiors.

Do You Need Performance Management Software?

For optimum results, performance management requires meticulous recordkeeping. This will allow you to accurately track employees’ goals, progress, and areas for development. How you choose to keep these records depends on what works for you, but one option is a performance management software system. You should consider investing in performance management software if:

  1. Employees complain about your current performance system or process.
  2. Your current process does not have any impact on business results.
  3. Your HR team spends a lot of time organizing performance paperwork and knocking on doors to track down completed reviews.
  4. You have a manual process that involves printed documents and Excel spreadsheets.
  5. You’re experiencing low employee engagement and/or high turnover rates.
  6. Too many employees miss goals or cannot consistently meet KPIs.
  7. You are concerned that your current process leaves room for risk when deciding on promotions, compensation plans, or terminations.

A version of this article originally appeared on the ClearCompany blog.

Sara Pollock is head of the marketing department at ClearCompany.

Read more in Performance Management

As head of the marketing department, Sara makes sure that ClearCompany's message, products, and best practices reach and assist as many HR practitioners as possible.