Here's 4 steps to help managers get on the right track with employee performance

Performance Management is based on the management of expectations to achieve organizational goals, whether they are to impact the financial bottom line or the security of the world. Planning at the start of the performance cycle and periodic monitoring facilitate proper management of these expectations. These two practices communicate work priorities, standards of performance, and work roles, and subsequently reduce unexpected disputes at the performance review.

Here is a 4-step process for managers to consider using to help employees reach their assigned goals and minimize surprises at the end of the performance cycle. 

  1. Know your own priorities first; then cascade down. Managers are effective in their role when they fully understand where their own mission fits within the bigger picture of the organization. Before assigning goals to your team, get a copy of your own supervisor’s performance plan or the 4 Steps for Managers to Effectively Plan and Monitor Employee PerformanceCredit: Microsoft Clipart 2010company’s vision statement so that you can determine where your contributions impact across the organization. Then you can set goals and priorities through performance objectives for the people who were hired to help you reach your goals. The more you understand your own mission with detail and clarity, the greater your ability to lead your team in achieving targeted success.
  2. Collaborate for employee engagement. According to Towers Watson’s 2012 Global Workforce Study, 65% of over 32,000 employees surveyed said they felt detached, unsupported, or disengaged from their organizations. These negative feelings can impact the performance and output of any team. Take action – engage your employees during performance planning. Make the establishment of performance objectives a collaborative effort. If employees are active participants in planning the team’s success, they will be motivated to innovate and find creative solutions to challenges that arise.
  3. Measure success. How do you want work done? Quickly but requiring multiple corrections or with mistakes that could bring embarrassment to the company? Or in a timely manner with quality that your leadership or customers would feel good about? When you set goals for your employees, hold them accountable for quality work by incorporating measures of performance in their objectives. Give them the answer to the question: What does it look like to be successful in this objective? Through the measures of performance, both you and your employees have a reference from which to gauge progress. It is important to use meaningful measures that can be consistently tracked and do not burden daily operations. Otherwise, the measures will lose their credibility as indicators of successful work. A reference book that can help trigger ideas for measures of performance is Paul Falcone’s "2600 Phrases for Setting Effective Performance Goals". An additional perk to this is that you will have the documentation to support your decision for taking corrective action if employees fail to consistently do quality work.
  4. Monitor progress and provide feedback. It is important to not only incorporate credible measures of performance into objectives but to also track progress against them by monitoring the work of your employees. With this awareness, you can adjust the work according to the latest shifts in priorities. This ensures that contributions are impacting the right areas at the right time. More importantly, give your employees feedback along the way. Help those who are struggling or not meeting expectations with an opportunity to get back on track. 

Too often, managers dread the end of the performance cycle because it means there may be challenging discussions with their employees that they would like to skip. By taking the steps outlined above, you will maximize your effectiveness as a manager throughout the cycle and be confident and well-prepared to conduct productive performance reviews.