EPMEPM: Ask The ExpertEPM: LeadershipEPM: Productivity

Performance Planning and Review

Melissa Karatjas and Fiona Blayney discuss why regular staff appraisals are important for continuous performance improvement, as well as happy employees.

Performance planning should be a systematic and periodic process that assesses an individual employee’s job performance and productivity in relation to a set of predetermined expectations like the performance objectives in the job description. Other aspects of individual employees should be considered as well, such as behaviour, accomplishments, potential for future improvement, strengths, and weaknesses.

Effectively managing and planning staff performance is essential for a well-managed business as it facilitates individuals, teams, and the overall organisation to achieve set goals. If managed correctly, it will provide your business with many benefits, including ensuring that good performers are retained and staff engagement with management increases.

The performance management process is a continuous two-way process of conversation, planning, and coaching that occurs between a team member, their team, and their manager throughout the year, and should culminate in a formal end of year performance review. This ensures that the end of year review does not contain any surprises.

This continuous cycle also ensures that poor performance is dealt with as it arises. The employee should be informed that they are working at an unsatisfactory level regardless of what time of the cycle this may be. This means that if an employee is rated as “unsatisfactory” at their formal end of year performance review it should have already been discussed with the individual and not come as a surprise. When a manager advises an employee that they are ‘unsatisfactory’ and the reasons why, they should look to implement a plan to improve performance.

Performance reviews can be critical in protecting your business from unfair dismissal claims as you have consistent records based on performance.

Potential Benefits:

  • Individual workers become more productive and have a higher level of job satisfaction
  • Opens the lines of communication between staff and management
  • Enhancement of employee focus on achieving the organisational goals
  • Goal setting and the ability to reinforce expectations. Also encourages the employee to accept the outcome of the appraisal and take ownership for their performance
  • Improvement in performance and the ability for the employee to offer suggestions about how their skills could be better used to improve performance and meet company goals
  • Identifies training requirements and areas for improvement in systems and communication within the organisation
  • Performance reviews can be critical in protecting your business from unfair dismissal claims as you have consistent records based on performance.

Some Practical tips for Delivering Performance Appraisals

  1. Plan one-on-one meetings in advance
  2. Make meeting a priority – always try to keep meetings that have been pre-planned
  3. Create an employee file – keep all artefacts related to an individual’s performance plans in one location for ease of reference
  4. Do not rely on your memory – all conversations should be documented for referral if required.
  5. Involve your employees – remember this is a two-way process and is as much the employee’s responsibility to manage as well as the manager
  6. Support the soft with the hard – ensure all feedback is well rounded and focuses on both the positives and negatives. When delivering a negative or commenting on unsatisfactory performance, use a positive comment or observation of skills to add balance and make the employee feel that you are taking an objective position.
  7. Communicate – remember that more is better. Open and honest communication fosters healthy staff engagement and maintains the ‘no-surprises’ rule at the end of year review.
  8. Keep up to date with HR laws, company structural changes, and forward plan for vacancies within your business by using existing staff members. Regular performance reviews will allow you to see the potential in current staff or assess the need to hire a specific skill set.

Performance appraisals, if handled correctly, can give you invaluable feedback about the reasons why people stay in your organisation.

Performance appraisals, if handled correctly, can give you invaluable feedback about the reasons why people stay in your organisation. When conducting reviews, make sure you include some questions about the things they like about the organisation, what frustrates them and make use of that feedback.

Not everyone will be 100% honest, very few employees will openly tell you they are looking for a new job but as a manager every insight they give you is useful. You will certainly get information that wouldn’t normally be discussed as part of a normal conversation.

Build more of the reasons why people like to work for your company into the job and culture of your organisation and you may reduce turnover and reduce the negative impact this has on your team.

Why not get on the front foot and look at ways to continually improve staff retention, rather than find out what you could have fixed once people have left.

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