The performance management cycle is one of the simplest HR functions in theory but one of the hardest to put into practice. Simply put, it can be broken down into three simple steps. The performance management process is a cycle that reverts back to the beginning once it completes itself. It is never complete as long as that person is still an employee. We should always be evolving and changing both our goals and our expectations.
Step 1 - Establish Your Expectations
It is important that the employee understands what is expected of them in order to their job. This is usually done at the very beginning of the employment relationship through a job description. This can also be done through regular performance reviews and goal setting sessions. In future cycles, this step will be more focused on goal setting and career planning if the opportunity is there.
Key Points: Make sure you are clear in your expectations. If you want something done a certain way, make sure the employee knows this. If they are expected to produce 100 widgets/hour, make sure they know this.
Step 2 - Train & Coach
Next step is to train and coach. I find this is the step that is most often overlooked mostly because of the time commitment. Managers/Supervisors should spend some time, at least quarterly but more often is better, coaching the employee and provide timely feedback on how they are doing. If certain expectations are not being met, take this time to review this the employee and determine why that is. Either provide coaching or training for the employee to meet the expectation. Continue to monitor their progression towards reaching the goals set out in Step 1.
Key Points: This is the step where you provide minor corrections before they become an issue. By making minor corrections, you can focus on developing the employee rather than trying to change bad habits or behaviours in the future.
Step 3 - Monitor Performance and Provide Feedback
This is the final stage in the cycle where the employee receives formal feedback on how they performed in reaching their goals. This is an opportunity to discuss the goal and the outcome. Provide your feedback on why goals were or were not achieved and listen to the employee for their own feedback.
Key Points: If the employee does not meet expectations, make sure this is communicated to them and documented. Put together a plan to address the performance deficiencies. If warranted, this is where corrective action may occur.
Return to Step 1
Reflecting on the past performance and the current needs of the organization/role, develop a new set of expectations with the employee and have an plan to reach them.
How often should this cycle repeat itself? Is this the annual performance review?
This cycle should be done as often as it is necessary. Personally, I have had to do weekly cycles with certain employees depending on the goals. Others, I have had to yearly. Neither approach is wrong as long as the employee understand the expectations, is provided coaching, and receives feedback.