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5 Important Performance Management Tasks That Often Are Forgotten

By Sean Conrad

June 17 2010 - Performance management should be much more than a process for documenting and delivering feedback, coaching and ratings. When expanded beyond these basics, it becomes a powerful tool for helping your employees develop and achieve their full potential, and for driving employee engagement. Here are 5 additional performance management tasks that should be a standard part of your performance management process:

1. Get Employees to Complete Self-Assessments

To drive up employee engagement in your performance appraisal process, and ensure an effective dialogue between managers and employees, it's important to include employee self-assessments as part of your process. You can use the same form you do for your regular performance appraisals, or create a slightly modified version. The purpose of the self-assessment is to get your employees' perspective on their performance. This is a powerful way to give them a voice in the process. Sometimes, managers worry about the value of self-assessment, thinking that employees will simply give themselves glowing reviews and ratings to try to drive up their actual ratings. Experience shows the opposite tends to be true; when we evaluate ourselves, we tend to be much harsher than others. Getting your employees' perspective is an invaluable way to get more information on their performance. It also helps managers be ready to address differences in opinion or perspective, and gain insight into expectations.

2. Gather 360 Degree Feedback

Let's face it, managers rarely have the full perspective on their employees' performance. 360 degree feedback can help managers avoid bias, get a different perspective on their employees' performance and better identify areas that need coaching or development. And employees often discount negative feedback as "just your opinion". Substantiating feedback by gathering if from multiple, credible sources can make it more objective and increase its impact. You can collect feedback from other managers, peers, subordinates, even customers - anyone who works with the employee on a regular basis and can give you insight into their performance. 360 degree feedback can be especially vital when there is conflict or tension between the manager and employee, when different personality types make the feedback process difficult, or when managers don't work directly with their employees (shift work, project work, etc.).

3. Align Employee Goals with Organizational Goals

We all know the importance of creating SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound) goals for our employees. Part of what makes a goal relevant is its context. By aligning and even linking employee goals with higher level organizational goals, you give employees this all important "larger context" for their work. This helps employees understand why their work is important and how it contributes to the larger organization's success. While traditionally, managers have tried to accomplish this by linking employee goals to their own, a much more powerful practice is to align or link them to higher-level departmental, divisional, or organizational goals. Research on employee engagement has shown that this context setting is vital to employee performance. It helps them feel that their work matters.

4. Create Development Plans for Employees

Development planning is most powerful when it's an integral part of the performance management process, not a separate activity. The performance appraisal meeting is usually the principal time when managers and employees discuss performance deficiencies and career aspirations. Identifying learning activities to address any deficiencies during the appraisal meeting, helps to communicate both the manager's and the organization's commitment to the employee, and their expectations for improvement. Exploring opportunities to develop and prepare the employee for advancement gives them a sense that they have a career path or future with an organization. By including development planning in your performance appraisal process, you give employees a context for their learning and help increase employee engagement.

5. Reward Good Performance

Finally, it's important to reward and reinforce good performance. Performance ratings should be a known and visible factor in determining employee rewards and compensation. Integrating your performance management process with your compensation management process lets employees know that compensation practices are fair and based on their performance. This integration applies to more than just merit increases and bonuses; all forms of employee reward or recognition should be linked to employee performance and serve to reinforce desired behavior and performance.

This article was written by Sean Conrad, Senior Analyst at Halogen Software, a leading provider of online performance management software.

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