The goals of any performance management process or system are productivity, continuing improvement, and accountability. If you are hiring effectively, most employees want to contribute and succeed in their work! Founders, executives, and managers play key roles in ensuring that individuals have the skills, tools, support, and knowledge to do so.

Performance management is an on-going work routine designed to help ensure that each person becomes and remains a highly productive, effective contributor. It is a cycle which includes action from orientation through termination.

There are nine discussions which have been shown to have a major impact on productivity. These are:

  • Orientation to the work unit
  • Initial work assignment discussion
  • Orientation follow-up
  • Agreeing on work assignment plans and measurements
  • Career coaching
  • Recognizing consistent progress
  • Recognizing above-average performance
  • Counseling and correcting substandard performance
  • Regular,on-going performance discussions

Note that some of these are relatively formal, scheduled discussions.  Others can be ‘catching the person doing something well’ and saying so, on the spot skill coaching or advice, or other less formal communications.

New employees want to know about the overall business and where and how they fit in. Providing the information they need to succeed, as in the first three above, helps convey your expectations clearly and provides a blueprint for success.

Discussing and agreeing on work assignments affects the individual’s sense of positive involvement. It gives both of you an opportunity to address issues and clarify expectations. When work plans in whole or in part are developed jointly, the risks of misunderstanding and poor performance are reduced. Realistic standards are more achievable. So is success for you both and for your company!

Career coaching involves providing information and feedback. It includes ‘how to succeed here’ talks, discussions of the individual’s goals, as well as future plans of the organization so that an employee can assess options and grow.

The final four discussions listed above are all feedback situations. The need here is for timely, objective and specific feedback to reinforce good performance and to correct problems before they become bad habits. While annual performance appraisals have no effect on productivity, regular on-going feedback does have. These discussions require specific skills including openness, good listening, coaching, problem identification and counseling. These skills require practice. You will experience a large payback in your own success when you do learn to do them well.

Developing simple ways to ensure your company does these effectively will help you grow productivity and retain top quality employees. This can be done with a bit of effort and some research. Often it makes sense to use a consultant’s expertise to help you define specific parts of your process more quickly. This series of blog posts is designed to help you think through what you might need.