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HR Tools: Performance Management Checklist
HR Tools: Performance Management Checklist

HR Tools:
Performance Management Checklist

As the end of the year approaches, you should be thinking about performance reviews/appraisals/evaluations, or however you refer to them internally, for your employees. But traditional reviews can cause decreased morale and all-around hard feelings in your office. Rather than bring back a dreaded year-end process, it's time to approach things differently.

Think about your desired goal from performance evaluations. What is it that you hope to achieve with reviews? Sure, traditional performance reviews can help employers document poor performance to rationalize hiring decisions down the line, but how is that going to benefit the rest of your employees?

Performance Management Focuses on Employee Development

Ultimately, the goal of a review should be to help employees continue their professional development within your company. And traditional evaluations don't do a great job of helping you reach that goal, for the reasons noted above. To help your employees continually develop their skills, and improve your business overall, a project management plan provides the best option.

Rather than letting your employees languish for most of the year without any knowledge of their performance, a performance management plan will help your team provide a more consistent appraisal of performance, year-long, and can have a dramatic impact.

A Performance Management System: The Big Picture

For each employee, your management team will need to define the following variables:
  • Job description (duties and responsibilities)
  • Performance goals (including measurable outcomes)
  • Priority for each responsibility and goal
  • Standards of performance
Once clearly defined and documented, managers should implement the following steps:
  • Provide regular feedback about employee performance (as often as possible--preferably daily--but at the very least, provide feedback on a quarterly basis). Feedback should include both positive and constructive feedback, with concrete steps for improvement (both with and without management assistance).
  • For any workplace concerns or critical issues, be sure to document them thoroughly in reports, keeping dated notes regularly, rather than waiting for a performance management meeting. This will ensure you do not forget or miss any critical issues.
  • To provide a more thorough assessment of performance, consider peer and customer reviews (a 360-degree feedback process).
Performance Management Meetings: A How-To

Before the Meeting
  • Clearly define the purpose of the meeting, which is not to "judge" the employee, but to devise a long-term performance development plan.
  • After scheduling a performance management meeting, alert the employee to any work or notes you will require beforehand (including self-assessment). This will save time and allow you to focus the meeting on pertinent information.
  • Managers should prepare any notes, reports, records and/or other feedback from the team to be presented in the meeting.
  • Devise a clear agenda for the performance management meeting to ensure all points and steps are met during the defined time. (Don't let your meeting drag on!)
During the Meeting

  • Remind the employee that the meeting is not meant to criticize or judge, but to help develop a long-term performance development plan.
  • Hold the meeting in a comfortable area and keep the employee relaxed--this meeting is to help your employees continue their professional development!
  • Stick to the agenda, leaving room for any questions or comments that fall outside of the agenda.
  • Let the employee discuss any additional training or education needed to reach specific career goals.
  • Provide feedback or suggestions on those goals and needs, and agree upon the immediate and long-term steps needed to achieve them.
  • Define a timetable for those steps.
  • Review performance standards and goals and how those goals were met in the previous period (month, quarter, etc.).
  • Set goals for the next period (month, quarter, etc.).
  • Involve the employee on the process for setting these goals, how they will contribute to the "big picture," and why that employee's role is critical to the organization's long-term success.
  • For employees whose performance has not met the determined goals, document a set plan for improvement (in writing), and schedule regular, frequent (more frequent than for employees who are meeting or exceeding goals) meetings to assess improvement and provide additional guidance.
  • Both the manager and employee should sign the documented next steps (performance goals and plan).
  • At the very least, determine a timeframe to move forward (or if you can, schedule the next meeting).
Following Up

  • It is imperative that managers follow up on the performance management meeting.
  • Without frequent formal meetings (unless determined to be necessary for unsatisfactory performance), have regular discussions throughout the period to see how things are progressing, and answer any questions the employee might have.
  • Ensure that any items requiring follow-up (assignments, education or training) are implemented by management on the agreed-upon timeline.
  • Send any required forms or documents to human resources, keeping a photocopy (or at the very least, your notes) for your personal records.