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Get the Most from Employees through Effective Performance Management

Human Resources

How many employers overlook performance management as a key element in getting the most from their employees? All too often, business owners focus on hiring what appears to be a great employee, only to see that individual's performance lag behind expectations and achievements. Why? It may be because they neglect to focus on activities that promote a true sense of engagement, or that the employee isn’t willing to put in the work to excel at what they've been hired to do.

Here are five tips you can take as an employer or manager to help enhance an employee’s value to the organization through performance management:

1. Set Clear, Concise Expectations

With so much attention given to recruiting and hiring, some employers "drop" new hires into their positions without much in the way of direction or guidance. Most importantly, they fail to communicate the precise expectations they have for these positions. How can an individual perform to the necessary standard if they're uncertain what that standard is? Don't assume your employees (both new hires and veterans) know what's expected of them. Take time to clearly and concisely outline each employee's job functions and responsibilities. It can save you considerable aggravation later on.

2. Work Together to Improve Performance
At its core, performance management is a collaborative effort. Don't think of the process as telling employees how to do their jobs. Solicit their input and encourage them to come up with their own ideas about how to achieve your company's goals. Ask them if organizational obstacles exist that prevent them from doing their jobs and do your best to get rid of those obstacles.

3. Offer Regular, Constructive Feedback
Regular, ongoing employee performance reviews are critical. Waiting until year-end to evaluate an employee's performance (or at a scheduled time for the annual performance review) is simply too long to go without offering valuable feedback. Set formal meetings to assess the individual's progress, thus eliminating unpleasant "surprises" at a later time. During these ongoing meetings, focus first on what the employee is doing right and note specific ways in which he or she is making discernible progress. This doesn't mean overlooking that employee's shortcomings or errors in performance. Negative aspects can be discussed as well, but in a way that emphasizes solutions to these shortcomings and, always, feedback that looks ahead, rather than in the past. What can we learn from a past mistake? How can we correct behavior in order to succeed when faced with a similar situation in the future?

4. Chart Progress in Writing
Regular meetings with employees are a crucial first step in ongoing performance management, but to ensure that key points are remembered, it's best to write things down. Following the end of each meeting, ask employees to send you a brief summary of the discussion, including:

  • Action items to achieve
  • Suggested timelines
  • Anticipated results

This can help guarantee that you and your employee are on the same page and working towards the same objective.

5. Provide Resources to Help Improve Performance
You can't expect employees to perform at the highest levels if they lack the resources and training to help them get there. An employer or manager is responsible for identifying and supplying relevant technology, online resources, access to training, and other tools that give employees valuable information and enhance their skill-sets. The more resources employees can call on, the better they can perform on the job.

Business owners can't afford to neglect performance management as a key element of business growth. Having knowledgeable, motivated and problem-solving employees represents a huge competitive advantage in today's marketplace. The good news is, with the right time and resources, you can make this happen.


This website contains articles posted for informational and educational value. Paychex is not responsible for information contained within any of these materials. Any opinions expressed within materials are not necessarily the opinion of, or supported by, Paychex. The information in these materials should not be considered legal or accounting advice, and it should not substitute for legal, accounting, and other professional advice where the facts and circumstances warrant.