Working with Leadership to Understand the Performance Management Cycle


Mention performance review season and the entire organization groans. HR tends to spend an entire month pestering managers to finish forms, have meetings and get documents signed. Sometimes managers don’t see the value in performance reviews, and that is because they are left out of the performance management cycle the rest of the year.

Understanding that performance management can’t happen in a vacuum and that leadership needs to be a part of the ongoing process will go a long way toward making performance reviews a vital tool.

Performance Management as a Vital Part of the Cycle

Performance reviews are only one small piece of the entire performance management strategy. Sure, these reviews are necessary documentation for compliance purposes, but that’s not their only function. They serve as a way to measure how well goals were accomplished over the course of a cycle (for example, one year).

But if all you’re doing is setting a goal and then evaluating it a year later, you’re likely going to find employees missing the mark. You’re also missing an opportunity to work throughout the year to bring out the best in your employees while also setting the organization up for success. When everyone is on the same page and planning for the upcoming period, and then communicating expectations to employees, the true value of the performance management cycle can be seen.

Managers have to understand that it’s in their best interest to focus on performance management throughout the year. Employees can express where they’d like to be involved and leadership can help employees get there. In doing so, managers can make the performance review cycle the fluid, ongoing part of management activities it should be.

The Performance Management Cycle

There are five main components of the performance management cycle. No matter where you begin, you have to hit all of the marks in order to find success.

Setting Performance Goals

Setting clear goals helps employees know what’s expected of them and also gives managers something tangible to evaluate when the time comes. Speak to your managers about the importance of their team understanding goals for overall success.

Involving employees in the goal-setting process ensures that employees are aware of the overall strategic goals while managers know how and where employees want to be involved.

Delegating Responsibilities

Managers must look at what needs to be done across their department and then decide who will do what. Delegate portions of the workload to those team members that want to grow and develop, allowing managers to focus on higher level strategic initiatives.

Coaching for Commitment

HR can add value for the managers by providing training and tools to mentor and coach their teams on an ongoing basis.

Last year, I authored a survey with which indicated that managers understood the importance of coaching and mentoring employees, but it was also their weakest area. One suggestion I often provide is for HR to send one talking point out to managers monthly. Don’t require anything back in writing, but encourage managers to sit with employees for 10 minutes and just talk.

Employees need the chance to open up about tools they might need to do their job better, cross-training they might be interested in, or their biggest challenges. Managers are generally open to having these conversations, they just get wrapped up in their day to day work and need a reminder to connect.

Motivating and Recognizing

When managers motivate employees throughout the year and recognize achievements along the way, everyone benefits. Managers often feel that when it comes to motivation, a major activity is required.

This simply isn’t the case.

Rather, motivating employees needs to be personalized. Managers should know their team well enough to understand who wants time off, who is excited by a new job title, and who is looking for their next promotion. By creating individual paths to success, employees will be self-motivated to complete the goals that drive everyone forward.

Recognition is an essential part of motivation. This can be as simple as a public thank you at a team meeting. If a small budget is available, I’ve also ways liked giving managers small gift cards to hand out on the spot. It’s amazing how much $10 to Starbucks or target will mean to members of your team!

Making Managers Aware of the Benefits

It’s critical that leaders understand that performance management is part of a larger cycle and not just a review once a year. Talk about it as a way to retain top talent in a time of increased competition for resources.

Emphasize that when managers provide feedback to issues while a change of behavior is still possible, the bottom line profits. As with all HR initiatives, we can’t start the conversation with the reasons HR wants performance reviews. We have to approach the conversation with the impact on the business and how it will drive results for your organization.


Originally posted on HR Topics.



The SHRM Blog does not accept solicitation for guest posts.

Add new comment

Please enter the text you see in the image below: