Performance Planning

Performance Management is a hot topic among many companies today. It is a critical part of any successful company. Employee reviews hold employees accountable for their performance and keep managers abreast of employee needs and satisfaction levels. It is also an effective tool for companies that have poor or below average performers to weed out those that are not performing at acceptable levels and identifies key performers that have the potential to do more. One of the leaders of a company I used to work for called them GUS (Giving Unsatisfactory Service.) The true goal of the performance review is employee development and organizational improvement.

As a company you will have to decide how often to conduct reviews. Some companies conduct them on the employee's anniversary date each year and others do all employee reviews at year end. You will have to determine which cycle will be the most effective for you. There are two types of reviews we recommend. A yearly review and a one time 90 day review. The 90 day review should take place 90 days after their start date and is a one time review. The purpose is to serve as a check-in with the new employee on how their performance is going and is an opportunity for a manager to provide feedback and/or suggestions on additional training they may need to get on the right path. This is also a great time for a manager to ensure the employee has received the proper training and to gauge their satisfaction with the company thus far. Typically there are no monetary rewards linked to a 90 day review.

The yearly review is a critical component to the performance management process. Yearly reviews should be written by the employee and the manager and then discussed together. Having the employee complete their own reviews is a great method to spark conversation about performance and clear up any disconnects and misperceptions on both sides. The yearly review is a time to review employee's goals over the past year and create new goals for the year ahead. Reviews are a great tool for measuring your employee's performance. It is a tangible tool that will hold them accountable. Review time is a great opportunity for the manager to give constructive feedback that will aid in the employee's success as well as recognition of their accomplishments.

One of the keys to giving a successful review is to follow steps at the beginning of the goal making process. You need to make sure that you have clearly defined your employee's job duties and responsibilities as well as defined their performance goals. Their performance goals should have measurable outcomes and should be agreed upon by both parties. This ensures that both parties are on the same page and the employee knows what is expected of them. Once you have agreed upon the goals you will need to make it a priority to check in with your employees. Managers do this daily, weekly, and monthly. It is important to provide ongoing feedback to your employees throughout the year so that when the review time arrives there are no surprises. Your employees should always know what is expected of them and how they are progressing. Your check-in time should provide them with feedback and positive reinforcement as well as allowing them the opportunity to turn their performance around if necessary. As a manager it would be wise to maintain a record of your employees performance throughout the year so that you have the information you need to conduct an effective review.

Most employees associate review time with reward time. Rewards to many employees mean an increase in salary or a cash bonus. In place of the increase in salary we recommend offering a cost of living adjustment that reflects the inflation in the marketplace today. This increase is not directly linked to the employee's performance but is simply an acknowledgment of the rising cost of living. We also recommend rewarding an employee's success by offering them the sharing of profits. This would be a yearly bonus that is based on the company's performance that year as well as the employee's performance.

Review time can be a high stress time for managers as well as employees. Many managers avoid sending tough messages to employees or skirt around the review process. Although this helps the manager to avoid conflict in the short term it does not do anything for the health of the organization. A strong goal making and review process is important for the company's success as well as the employee's success. It will ensure that your top performers are being rewarded and help you rid yourself of the performers that are below stated standards. The long term result will be that your strong performers feel valued and appreciated which will build their loyalty to you as a manager and to the company.

Published Sunday, September 17, 2006

Bryon Peterson is the President of Human Resources Group International. HRGI is a group of human resources consultants with over 25 years of experience in the field. HRGI provides comprehensive human resources products and services to businesses throughout the United States, and Canada. Its mission is to provide an integrated and highly effective working environment for companies and their employees.

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