9 Strategies for Effective Performance Management

Effective performance management isn’t a one-time event—it’s a process (or at least it should be).

To create an effective performance management process, HR professionals need to provide employees with feedback and direction to achieve organizational goals.

How can this be done? We’re sharing 9 reliable strategies to help you create a strong process for your organization below. 

1. Align Performance Management With Organizational Objectives

In order to be effective, your performance management process needs to support the organization’s priorities and objectives. When performance goals are based on strategic objectives, employees are able to focus their time on activities that will generate results. Purpose drives process, therefore aligning your performance management strategy with organizational objectives will help create a coherent, systematic process. 

2. Set Clear Expectations

You can't manage performance without first knowing what good performance looks like. Do your employees clearly know what you expect of them? Effective performance management requires crystal-clear expectations.  

So, how are clear expectations set and defined? You may refer to job descriptions, goal setting activities, and cultural values when setting expectations. Being straightforward will help ensure that employees are focused on activities that drive performance results. 

3. Provide Quality Feedback

Quality feedback drives effective performance management. Unfortunately, many managers and supervisors have never been formally trained on how to give feedback. If you don’t already have a process in place to train managers and supervisors to provide effective feedback, now is the time to put this on your radar. The impact of performance management is a direct result of the feedback provided, which makes quality feedback a crucial element of effective performance management. 

4. Initiate Performance Conversations

Effective performance management isn’t about completing forms—it’s about having meaningful and ongoing performance conversations. Check-ins provide an opportunity for managers and employees to discuss performance, share feedback, and review expectations. Make sure that ample time, focus, and energy are devoted to these important conversations.  

5. Tie Performance to Everyday Work 

When creating an effective performance management strategy, daily performance should be directly tied to long-term results. Conversations around performance shouldn’t just happen during formal performance reviews. Instead, ensure a culture of feedback through systems like regular 1-on-1s, weekly and monthly conversations, and recognition programs.

6. Review Goals Periodically

Because performance management is a process and not an event, goal setting should be fluid. Effective performance conversations should include a focus on outcomes, changing priorities, and new directions. The following questions may be helpful in guiding goal-setting conversations:

  • What are the next steps employees should take? 
  • What kind of follow-up and check-ins will you do? 
  • How often will you review and potentially revise goals to ensure ongoing performance alignment with business priorities? 

A lot can change for an organization, both internally and externally, so goals should be revisited as often as necessary. Asking thoughtful questions and frequently revisiting goals will help make your performance management process more efficient. 

7. Give Frequent Feedback

As we’ve already noted, performance feedback should be built into performance conversations on a regular, ongoing basis. To make your performance management process more effective, consider giving more frequent feedback. This may look like going from an annual review to quarterly reviews, adding goal check-ins, and holding weekly 1-on-1s. An effective performance management process will ensure that managers and supervisors are engaging regularly with their staff and providing feedback to help keep everybody focused and on track.

8. Gather Feedback From Multiple Sources

Traditionally, managers and supervisors have been the primary (and sometimes sole) source of performance feedback. But managers aren’t the only ones who have a line of sight to evaluate and provide input on employee performance. Peers, customers, mentors, project leads, dotted-line managers, and employees themselves should be part of the process of providing feedback. Multiple sources of feedback help contribute to an effective performance management process and ensure that employees are getting all of the insights they need to improve their performance. 

9. Create a Streamlined Process

The easier it is for managers and supervisors to manage the performance management process, the more likely they’ll be to establish an effective environment where feedback is ongoing. The process should be streamlined for employees as well. Technology can certainly help here by sending alerts, follow-up reminders, prompts, and more. The acronym “K.I.S.S.”—keep it short and simple—definitely applies here. Performance management is about feedback, not learning complicated and convoluted processes. Offer clear next steps with ongoing prompts and alerts to keep performance management top-of-mind for both managers and employees.

Creating an Effective Performance Management Process

As you consider how to create and implement an effective performance management process, remember that it’s not a one-time event. The strategies and best practices above will help you create a functional process for your organization. 

If you’re looking for a quick solution to create a powerful performance management experience, request a demo to see PerformYard in action. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the key components of effective performance management?

Effective performance management draws on the elements of the process discussed here. Importantly, performance management should be considered a process, not a once-a-year event.

What makes a successful performance management system?

A successful performance management system requires alignment between organizational and individual goals designed to achieve business objectives. Continual conversations between managers, employees, and others, with an eye toward achieving measurable outcomes, can help ensure success.

What does successful performance management look like?

The best measure of successful performance management is success. Performance management is designed to manage the performance of employees to achieve organizational goals. If you’re consistently doing that, your performance management process is successful. If not, it’s time to evaluate your process and make the necessary changes to get on track. Reviewing the process steps listed above can help.

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