To have a truly effective performance management process that supports employee performance, development and success, you need to get everyone involved.
Having engaged and informed senior executives, managers and employees will ultimately result in higher participation rates and better quality performance management.
So you need to clearly communicate to everyone, what they are responsible for as part of your new performance management process. Here's breakdown of the responsibilities of each stakeholder group: executives and leadership, managers, employees and HR.
Executive and senior leadership responsibilities
As an executive or senior leader, you need to be an enthusiastic champion of the new process. Make sure you are supportive of the process, communicate its value and engage others to participate.
Share your support through a variety of employee communications vehicles. And be prepared to answer questions from various groups about “what's in it for me” to help build organizational commitment to the process.
Finally, pay it more than lip service. Use the information derived from the process to guide strategic decision-making about the organization.
The managers’ responsibilities in the performance management process
As a manager, you have a responsibility to recognize and reinforce strong performance in your employees, and identify and encourage improvement where needed. But to begin with, you need to view performance management as a two-way discussion that goes on throughout the year. Your employees should never be surprised by the ratings and feedback they receive in their formal performance reviews.
As a manager, you are expected to:
- Use the performance management process as a valuable tool for supporting employee development and improvement.
- If your employees sense a lack of interest on your part, they'll lose interest too.
- When talking with your team about the process, be sure to emphasize its benefits, and encourage employees to take ownership of their own performance and development.
- Determine an appropriate schedule for regular performance conversations with those you manage directly.
- Conduct short, regular meetings to discuss and record milestones, accomplishments, successes and challenges as they occur, when details are fresh in both your minds. This will allow you to better monitor progress on goals, and provide coaching as required. Plus, these short meetings reduce the effort it takes to prepare for and conduct your annual performance reviews because you've tracked progress and performance and provided the needed feedback when it was most valuable.
- Use the annual performance review meeting to review the achievements, setbacks, development and training that have already been discussed throughout the year — and then use this information to establish goals and a development plan for the coming year.
- Deliver regular positive and constructive feedback.
- Give employees feedback during one-on-one meetings and informally as regularly as possible.
- Commend your employee in front of their peers.
- Make performance notes about each employee in the period between conversations, so that come conversation time, you have concrete examples to share.
- Remember that the goal of feedback is to describe desired behaviors and expectations, not to dwell on undesirable behaviors.
- Check-in on goal progress
- Regularly check in with employees on their progress on goals; offer coaching or assistance, or revise goals as necessary.
- Communicate and revisit performance expectations.
- Communicate your organizations’ performance standards and expectations to your employees. This will help your employees differentiate between acceptable and unacceptable behaviors and results and reduce any misunderstandings.
- Gather feedback on employee performance from multiple sources. Use a 360-degree feedback or survey tool to complete and validate your own observations and perceptions.
- Improve your management and leadership skills.
- Take the time to learn how to be a better manager and coach. Invest in your own development!
- Acquaint yourself with the different management needs of the different generations.
- Employees from the Millennial generation may have different needs and different expectations of managers. Research tells us they require constant feedback and recognition, and expect quick career advancement. Workers from other generations have different needs. Learn what motivates each employee, and adjust your management approach accordingly.
- Coach your employees in a way that strengthens two-way communication and reinforces desired behaviors.
- Coach when you want to focus attention on a specific aspect of the employee’s performance.
- Advise the employee ahead of time of issues you want to discuss.
- Focus on describing your expectations and the desired behaviors rather than describing the gaps.
- Take the time to understand why their performance is what it is, and get them to take ownership for performance improvements.
- Support your employees' professional and career development while making them accountable for it.
- Regularly ask employees about their career aspirations and help them identify areas they may wish to improve or develop, as well as resources available.
- Ensure each employee has a well-defined job description and understands the skills and competencies they must develop in order to progress up the career ladder.
- Give your employees the time and flexibility they need to complete learning and development activities.
- Ensure development is having an impact on performance.
- Submit your completed employee reviews by the designated deadline.
- Failing to complete your formal performance review documentation on time sends your employees the message that recognition of their success and support for their development is not your top priority. It may also delay any pay for performance/ merit increases or bonuses your organization allocates to employees based on their performance ratings.
- Understand and correctly use your organization's rating scale.
- Be objective and have quantitative/qualitative facts ready to substantiate the ratings you give.
- Provide details on how the employee demonstrated the core and job specific competencies you are rating them on.
- Provide details on how they accomplished their goals, the milestones they met and work products they delivered.
- Assign each employee a development plan to help them improve their performance and support the organization's success.
Your role as an employee in this performance management process is to:
- Work towards achieving your individual goals, which help the organization reach its objectives.
- You and your manager should have set these goals collaboratively as part of your performance management activities.
- Keep track of your progress on your goals and regularly communicate their status to your manager, especially if you're facing challenges that could prevent you from achieving your goals.
- Take responsibility for your own professional and career development.
- Be clear about how you would like to grow professionally.
- Know what knowledge, skills and experience you want and need to develop.
- Actively seek opportunities for professional and career development, both in the organization or through external learning resources.
- Be open to feedback
- Accept constructive feedback and take the initiative to improve.
- Complete any development plans assigned to you and apply the learning to improve your performance.
- Seek support as required
- Work to establish and maintain a healthy relationship with your manager.
- Ask your manager for feedback and guidance, especially when you encounter challenges.
- Solicit feedback and guidance on your performance from others you work with.
- Keep a record of your performance achievements, successes and challenges.
- Keep a performance journal and share things like your successes, and the feedback and recognition you receive from others with your manager.
- Give others feedback.
- Just as you need feedback and recognition to improve your performance, your co-workers need it too. Give feedback verbally, as well as using online communication and social collaboration tools available to you. And don't be afraid to copy managers on your written feedback so they can gain more insight into their employees' performance.
- Complete your self-appraisal by the specified deadline.
- Reacquaint yourself with your job description, critical competencies for the role and performance expectations as defined by the organization.
- Understand and correctly use the organization's rating scale.
- Be honest about your performance but don’t underestimate your abilities.
- Be objective and have quantitative/qualitative facts ready to substantiate the ratings you give yourself.
- Provide details on how you demonstrated the core and job specific competencies you are being rated on.
- Provide details on how you accomplished your goals, the milestones you met and work products you delivered.
- Consider your current knowledge, skills and abilities as well as your career aspirations and identify learning activities that could benefit you and your organization.
- Draft your goals for the coming period, making sure they in some way contribute to the organization's goals, and are appropriate for your role.
Your role as an HR business partner in this performance management process is to:
- Design a best practice performance management process.
- Set reasonable deadlines for completing each step in the process.
- Provide training to all executives, managers and employees on the process, the steps involved, their responsibilities, and the benefits to be gained by all, addressing each group's (executives, managers, employees) particular needs.
- Clearly explain your performance rating scale, the difference between the different levels of performance, and how you expect ratings to be used (e.g. what rating is used for good performance and given to most employees, what additional actions need to be taken when performance is judged to be above and below expectations, etc.)
- Provide managers with regular training on how to give feedback as well as on how to coach and develop their employees.
- Launch and manage your performance management process.
- Analyze and review the results of your process, identifying things like:
- Participation rates
- Problems with rating calibration
- Areas of organizational, divisional and departmental strength
- Areas of organizational, divisional and departmental weakness
- Areas where performance ratings have improved since the last process
- Areas where performance ratings have worsened since the last process
- Organizational, divisional, departmental and individual development needs
- Areas where your process and forms can be improved
- Communicate the strategic results of your performance management process and any actions being taken as a result, to the entire organization.
Learn how others are getting everyone to play a role in performance management
At the San Diego Zoo, they adopted performance management best practices to support a new strategic plan. Gradually, they've involved everyone, from all parts and levels of the organization, driving performance, accountability and engagement.