5 Important Employee Performance Management Tasks You Shouldn't Ignore

Sean Conrad

Many managers and employees equate performance management with performance appraisal. They know it's important to carry out the following: conduct an employee performance appraisal meeting; give employees feedback on their performance; assign employees goals and development plans; and coach to sustain performance throughout the year.

But there are several other tasks that fall under the performance management umbrella that, along with employee performance appraisal, help support high employee performance. Here are five important ones you shouldn't overlook:
Have Your Employees Appraise Themselves First

Employee self-appraisals are a great way to get your employee's perspective on their performance. They're a powerful tool that gives employees a voice in the process and helps them feel more engaged. Getting your employee's perspective is an invaluable way to:

  • Get more information on their performance.
  • Prepare yourself for the performance appraisal meeting.
  • Identify any differences in opinion or perspective before the appraisal meeting so you can be prepared to address them.

Use the same performance appraisal form their manager will use and make sure your managers have sufficient time to review their employees' input before preparing their appraisals.

Gather Feedback From Their Peers

One way to make employee performance appraisal broader and more objective is to solicit feedback from others. 360 degree feedback can help managers avoid bias, get a different perspective on their employee's performance and identify areas for coaching or development. While 360 degree feedback is often used for leadership development, it's also powerful performance management tool. It can be especially vital when there's some 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 due to different shifts, locations, projects, etc. By gathering feedback from multiple, credible sources the manager can get a more objective view of the employee's performance and can provide better, broader feedback that is more credible to the employee.

Have Your Employees Align Their Goals with Organizational Goals

While it's important for managers to assign their employees goals as part of the performance management process, it's also vital to give these goals a larger context. Research on employee engagement tells us that this context setting is vital to employee performance. 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. This helps the employee understand why their work is important and how it contributes to the larger organization's success.

Link Development Activities to Employee Performance and Career Plans

Companies often do development planning separately from their performance management and appraisal process. What this fails to do is give the employee a context for their learning. A more powerful approach is to assign development plans as part of your performance appraisal process, and to link any learning activities directly to the competencies they are designed to develop. That way, the employee clearly understands what knowledge, skills or experience they are being asked to develop and why. It also allows you to then go back and check to see if performance in that area improved as expected, after the employee has completed the training. This applies to training that is designed to address a performance gap, as well as training that is aimed at expanding or further developing good performance. It's a great way to measure the effectiveness of your training initiatives.

The performance appraisal meeting is also a wonderful opportunity to discuss the employee's career aspirations, both short and long term, and explore opportunities to prepare the employee for advancement within the organization. To stay engaged with their work and loyal to their employer, employees need to feel they have a career path or future with an organization and feel their employer is committed to their development and advancement. Managers should consider the employee's current role and goals as well as their career aspirations and potential, and assign development plans that help prepare them to play a larger role in the organization. This is an important way to develop greater "bench strength" and ensure the organization's and the employee's ongoing success.

Reward Good Performance

One final practice that helps expand the value and impact of your performance management process is tying compensation to performance. Performance ratings should be a known and visible factor in determining employee rewards and compensation. This practice applies to more than just merit increases, commissions and bonuses; any form of employee reward or recognition should be integrated with your performance management process and serve to reinforce desired behavior and performance. Integrating your performance management process with your compensation management process helps employees feel that compensation practices are fair, empowers them, and encourages high performance.

Move Beyond Basic Performance Appraisals

Employee performance management and appraisal should be much more than just a process for documenting and delivering feedback and coaching. While performance appraisals form the foundation of all good performance management, expanding your process to include these other tasks can help increase the overall value of your program and can drive higher employee performance and engagement.