Performance Management is a Balancing Act

Publication 10, Issue 3

“How am I doin?” Ed Koch, a former New York City Mayor never suffered from feedback deprivation.  Whether you liked him or not or agreed with his political style, one of his famous tactics was to get feedback from his constituents – all the time – not just around election time!  He never suffered from feedback deprivation!  Wonder why?  If he knew what was on the minds of New Yorkers he would be able to address the issues, make improvements and show results in one form or another.  Sound familiar?

Performance management is essential to a manager’s credibility.  If your employees are hardworking, productive and loyal you have an easier time writing and delivering (I hope) an evaluation.  However, if employees are having difficulty in performing their jobs effectively, managers tend to procrastinate writing the evaluation – which makes delivering it even more difficult.

So, what’s the balance?

#1 Devote feedback time to your entire staff – not just a few

Managers spend more time giving feedback to employees who are struggling or not performing and they seem to breeze through the evaluations for the high performers.  Unfortunately, we are doing an injustice to our high performers – they too deserve our time and attention when it comes to feedback.  The balance?  Take time with your entire staff to ensure that you talk about accomplishments as well as development opportunities – all of us can improve in some way or another.

#2 Check-in frequently – not just once a year

Most companies are on a yearly performance review cycle.  The balance?  By providing more frequent check-ins, i.e., monthly or quarterly, with your employees there are usually no surprises at the annual review time.  It isn’t magical!  You’ll be more prepared as a manager to formulate the final review document.  Remember, annual review dates arrive whether you are ready or not.

#3 Focus on employee behaviors – not just performance

Yes, they go hand-in-hand, most of the time.  But you could have a situation where the employee is positive, reliable and well-liked, but isn’t performing the duties of the job satisfactorily.  Provide honest, observable and timely examples of the employee’s work performance and behavior.  Don’t just say “Pat stinks as a supervisor” but describe what “stinks” looks like.  For example, is he/she brash, quick-tempered, rude or disrespectful?  The balance?  Be honest, but tactful and provide suggestions for improvement.

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