Performance management is the creation and effective implementation of a working environment within which employees are empowered and subsequently enabled to perform to the best of their abilities. In order to assure success, the performance measurement system that you utilize should be unbiased allowing you, as the manager or business owner, the ability to provide value added feedback to your employees.
Whether you are a business owner or an area manager, you are always faced with a full plate of actions inclusive of the responsibility to effectively lead and manage your staff. The idea of value-added performance feedback is to provide a system by which performance is measured in an unbiased manner resulting in effective and constructive feedback being provided to your employees. One important end goal of this system should be that you empower your employees to take control and have accountability in striving to exceed expectations and in continually improving their performance, which will in turn improve output and efficiency while making this huge aspect of your job easier.
Key Elements of the Performance Management System:
The following are a few key elements in the effective execution of a value-added Performance Management System:
- Set goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, reliable, and timely.
- Provide continuous measurement, evaluation, and feedback to your employees on their performance.
- Implement a mechanism for the measurement of performance that is clear, constructive, and unbiased.
- Open the lines of communication with your employees.
- Set performance standards that enable employee empowerment and work to improve the overall performance and through-put of your operation.
Many of you are familiar with the term S.M.A.R.T. Goals. As such, you know that S.M.A.R.T. Goals are goals that are Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. If set correctly, S.M.A.R.T. Goals empower and enable your employees to have accountability for their actions and the desire to continually improve performance.
- Specific: Goals should be specific in that they clearly and demonstratively communicate employee expectations. I am sure many of you are familiar with this phrase, it has been said: “If you do not know where you are going, any road will get you there.” The same is true for goals. Each goal should be worded in such a way the clearly defines what is to be accomplished, why is it important, and how is it to be completed.
- Measurable: Goals should be set in such a way that progress can be demonstrated over time through measurement of performance in attaining the goal. Goals that cannot be measured are quite difficult, if not impossible to manage. In broad terms the goal statement itself is a measure for the assigned task or project. However, there are generally multiple small measurements or short-term actions that can be built into the goal to assure success in attaining the objective. Tangible criteria for measuring progress toward goal attainment should be established.
- Attainable: Goals should be attainable. This concept seems so simple; however, many make the mistake in thinking that setting complex, high reaching goals will alone assure success of the project or action to which they relate. In actuality, goals set in this manner can leave the employee feeling overwhelmed before the project or activity even starts. Goals should stretch the employee slightly so that they feel it can be accomplished through real commitment. Completing goals set in this manner can lead to the employee feeling a sense of accomplishment when they succeed and are subsequently motivated to provide continued quality performance.
- Realistic: Goals should be realistic to assure that they are attainable. Realistic goals are goals that challenge the skills and knowledge of the employees performing the action; however, it should not break them such that they are defeated before the task even begins.
- Timely: Goals should include timeframes for completion. Goals with a defined end point provide the employee with a clear target to achieve. The timeframe set for each goal must be what? You guessed it … timeframes must be measurable, attainable, and realistic.
Now that we have covered being S.M.A.R.T. in setting goals and objectives, we must now implement a mechanism such that continual measure, assessment, and result feedback is provided to the employee. The idea here is that we should avoid making the mistake of waiting until the end of the review period to provide feedback to our employees. Performance review results should never be a surprise to the employee nor to their manager. If we wait until the end of the review period to provide feedback, undesirable performance levels are not revealed and addressed until it is too late. This can potentially have lasting negative impact on business performance in that undesirable performance was allowed to remain unchecked for an entire quarter and sometimes for a full six months or more. Understandably, this can be quite costly to your business and sends the wrong message to your employees.
Performance management is the responsibility of both the manager and the employee. Meaning, it is the manager’s responsibility to clearly communicate the expectations and implement a system of unbiased measurement that provides accurate and constructive feedback to the employee. On the other hand, it is the responsibility of the employee to communicate to their manager if there are any areas where they do not fully understand the expectation or how it is being measured. The performance measurement and feedback system that it implemented should be established in such a way that it is inclusive of the following key elements: clarity of expectation, accountability level definition, unbiased feedback measurement, and review time frame establishment.
The performance management process, managers and business owners alike should work to prevent undesirable behaviors and poor performance from re-occurring. It is not only necessary to correct the bad behavior or performance issue but it is also essential to prevent their re-occurrence. Setting the stage such that the bad behavior or negative performance entity is not repeated will not only improve employee performance but will also save the manager time. It is a waste of time and energy that many managers and business owners cannot spare to address the same issue over and over.
Performance feedback need not only focus on the negative aspects but should focus on the positive as well. Employees should not have to fear going through the performance review process and at the same time managers should not dread the completion of this process with their employees.
In order to improve employee performance, it is not satisfactory to just simply say “perform better!” or “Fix it!”. Following these simple performance management elements will allow your business or department to run like a well-oiled machine. If the employee performance aspect of the business can run smoothly by empowering and holding employees accountable, then business owners and managers are afforded the much needed time, energy, and focus required in managing the other key elements of the business.
At Cogent Analytics, we never stop looking for ways to improve your business and neither should you. So, check out some of our other posts for helpful business information: