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What is Performance Management?

‘Performance Management’ can sound scary to anyone who is new to organisational life.  Indeed, ‘I’m going to manage your performance’ can come across – even from the nicest of managers or supervisors – as just a little bit threatening.  But it shouldn’t be.

In fact; quite the opposite.  When you understand what performance management is, whether you are a staff member or a manager/supervisor, you will also understand just how valuable it is.  As Pam Jones describes it in The Performance Management Pocketbook:

‘Performance management is about getting results.
It is concerned with getting the best from people
and helping them to achieve their potential.’

What could be more benign than that?  Of course, these are excellent words, but how does it all happen?

Get out your Toolbox

Toolbox

I rather agree with Pam that the basis of any performance management approach is the skills of the manager.  I also really like her toolbox analogy, so nicely drawn in the book by Phil Hailstone.  Pam identifies and describes a lot of tools:

Delegating *
Coaching *
Feedback *
Dealing with poor performance
Motivating *
Empowering *
Team-building *
Performance reviews

This is such a core set of managerial skills that it is no surprise to find most of them (starred) addressed by their own Management Pocketbook.  What Pam does is bring them all together into a consistent framework.

Let’s take a look in a little more detail at the remaining two.  This week, at Performance Reviews, and next week, we’ll focus on dealing with poor performance.

Performance Reviews

To be at their most effective, performance reviews need to be a part of everyday management, rather than set piece events once a month or – heavens forfend – once a year.

However, you will need milestone performance reviews at key career points and stages in the business cycle, like annually or semi-annually.  The formal reviews, at these key points, need to be carried out with greater preparation and formality, but the process remains the same, for anything from a quick five-minute ‘catch-up’ review to a formally documented annual review.

Pam’s Performance Review Process is Simple,
yet Comprehensive.

Performance Review

  1. Preparation
    Do your research.  Observe performance carefully, gather data and evidence, review against performance objectives from the last review.  Schedule the review meeting and set aside enough time, in a suitable place.
  2. The Interview
    … or, less formally, the meeting, or even the chat.  Discuss performance  since the last meeting and agree performance requirements and support process to follow.  Pam sets out a lot of good tips – especially around objective-setting and the use of balanced scorecards to get  a good mix of objectives.
  3. Ongoing Review
    This is where Pam builds in a lot of the skills I listed above, like feedback, motivation and coaching.  It is the step where Performance Management can get a bad name, if, as a manager, all I do is tell you you need to do better at step 2, then abandon you without the right support and ongoing review.  Then, all I am doing, is setting you up to fail when the next cycle reaches the interview.

So, here’s the deal

Pretty simple, yes: but not necessarily easy.  Good performance management requires a partnership and hard work from both parties.  But the rewards are great.

Some Management Pocketbooks to help you with your Performance Management

The Performance Management Pocketbook, by Pam Jones

The Performance Management Pocketbook is supported by:

More Pocketblogs about Performance Management.

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