4 Basics to Understanding Peformance Management in Your Workplace

Every work environment I have ever been in is different in one way or another, but they all have one very important thing in common. Different cultures, different values, different expectations, and yet one thing prevails everywhere I’ve been: the bosses set the tone for the rest of the staff. Whether the boss is a screamer or sweet or a workaholic or a two-hour-lunch taker, their employees tend to follow suit. This is huge because as it turns out, a boss doesn’t just change a worker’s mood or schedule but also acts as the top contributing factor in employee performance and turnover. I’m probably beating a dead horse to death by saying this, but the manager makes the employee and a bad boss can bring everyone down.

If you’re looking around your workplace and seeing performance issues left and right, it may be time to look in the mirror because the key to understanding performance management is understanding the role you play in it. It’s amazing what the best managers can pull out of even sub-par employees. These four areas of performance management are opportunities to become enthusiastic, engaged and invest in your employees:

4 areas of performance management

Setting goals and expectations

Managers often shy away from setting specific goals and laying out clear expectations for a few reasons. They may have a tough time ironing out exactly what those are, may be afraid of putting pressure on employees or may just find it easier to speak about these topics in vague terms. However, you’re doing yourself and your employees a disservice if you don’t communicate what you need. Commit to expecting employees to perform, even if that means having follow-up meetings, providing motivation and possibly having tough conversations.

Providing training and resources

Part of laying out your expectations for employees includes creating an expectation of growth and development and then empowering them to get there. Provide opportunities for continuing education and experience in areas that are important to you and them. Resources and training opportunities should be available year round, not just after you’re reminded of it in annual performance reviews. After all, performance management is about far more than an occasional check in. It’s an ongoing effort

Customizing your approach for each individual employee

One of the most valuable lessons a manager can learn is to find out how to get the best out of each employee. Every person has unique motivators, stresses and distractions, so figuring out the right combination for each person is important. A cookie-cutter approach will get you spotty results and frustrated employees. As they say, “square peg, round hole.” The area of performance management is the perfect example of this.

Preparing for and having difficult conversations – no matter how uncomfortable

Very few of us are comfortable with confrontation and even fewer of us enjoy telling people they aren’t performing well. But as a manager, helping employees improve and ensuring your team is contributing to the success of the company should be at the top of your priority list. That may mean having awkward, uncomfortable and even sad conversations. Prepare by knowing what you’re going to say, being steady emotionally and having an end result in mind, such as a plan, solution or a final decision.

Performance management is just as much about meeting the needs of individual employees as it is about you as the organizational leader stepping up and filling that role. They need you to be all in in order to perform and do their very best. Go for it this year, because you never know what your commitment to performance management could mean for your team.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.


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