The purpose of performance management is to enable individuals to perform at their best under all circumstances. An individual’s performance is never really static; there is a continuum. The goal is to drive performance to the positive end of the spectrum, and it is the approach that will determine the effectiveness.
As an HR professional, I have trained and coached hundreds of leaders in the art of performance management from the day-to-day leadership, reviews, corrective actions, and terminations of their direct reports. My approach is not only effective but simple when applied consistently.
1. Set clear expectations and gain an understanding from the employee of what is expected and what happens if expectations are not met.
2. Communicate on a regular and consistent basis. I encourage leaders to have one on ones with their employees, so the employee has the opportunity to bring forth any roadblocks or challenges.
3. Address problems right away. There should be no surprises when it comes to individual performance, and it is much easier to correct course early than it is later.
4. Hold individuals accountable. If clear expectations have been set, it is much easier than if they have not.
5. Documentation is everything; always follow-up with the individual in writing so you have a record of what was discussed. Documentation will make things much easier if things don’t improve.
6. Follow the process, especially when it comes to corrective action, don’t skip steps unless warranted.
7. Don’t make it personal. There is no reason ever to raise your voice or make a judgment about the person’s character. Keep in mind that the goal is to improve performance.
When done correctly, performance management can turn a situation around and protect you if things don’t work out. The key is to remember that the purpose of performance management is to achieve consistent long-term engagement and optimal performance.