Performance management is a strategic development tool that enables managers and staff to set targets, measure and review performance and re-define goals. It is an activity that provides a clear indication of whether the work undertaken is achieving the key objectives of the organisation.
There is often a difference between the current level of performance and where individuals would like to be. At a personal level methods used to try to reduce this gap include becoming more productive and skilful or better informed. At an organisational level it is more about improving processes, systems and procedures.
Benefits of effective performance management include improved staff performance, a focus on major organisational objectives and training and development plans that will work towards them.
Management Development Works: the evidence, published by the Chartered Management Institute and the DTI in January 2005 showed a significant rise in the impact management and leadership development (MLD) has on UK organisations.
A majority of respondents agreed that MLD helped them meet business needs and when linked to specific skills that address those needs, organisational productivity levels had increased.
In light of this, employee development should be a priority to both HR manager and line managers as part of the performance management process. It can be either formal or informal but a performance management system must be worthwhile for both the individual and their employer.
Various tools exist that can help you monitor progress towards a goal – such as Gantt charts, fishbone diagrams or Pareto analysis. However, one of the best tools remains an honest open discussion between you and your team members.
- Set clear objectives, performance standards and achievable targets
- Conduct regular, well-prepared performance appraisals in which individual objectives are discussed and reviewed, and new objectives set. Use a 360 degree approach to ensure that appraisals are effective.
- Encourage self-appraisal among employees so that there is personal buy-in to organisational performance.
- Listen, observe and support employees so that they are encouraged to achieve goals and discuss minor issues with you before they grow in to major problems.
- Give good feedback so that a culture of continuing improvement develops and employees remain motivated.
- Address poor performance before the formal appraisal so that it does not come as a surprise and set achievable but stretching objectives.
- Identify development needs and agree training with personal development plans.
* See the Chartered Management Institute's 'Performance Management' checklist which can be accessed via the website www.managers.org.uk.
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Jo Causon is Director of Marketing and Corporate Affairs at the Chartered Management Institute.