6 Performance Management Strategies (That Really Work)

Successful Performance Management Strategies are the key to aligning individual performance with the organisation’s goals. Here are 6 Performance Management Strategies that get results.

Every organisation must manage the performance of its people. If you don’t, you won’t catch the misalignment issues that lead to poor results. The performance of every person on your team must align with the organisation’s vision. You need great performance management strategies to ensure this happens.

Your managers will usually handle the performance management aspect of the business for you. What you need to know is how to give them great performance management strategies.

This article examines what performance management is. It also offers a performance management strategies list.

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What is Performance Management?

Performance management is a set of processes. Managers use them to improve employee performance. The aim is to ensure employees always work towards an organisation’s objectives.

This covers both the strategic and operational aspects of the business. As a result, your managers need the right strategies. This ensures their performance management activities align with the organisation.

Usually, performance management involves the following tasks:

  • Setting objectives for employees
  • Analysing and rating employee performance
  • Providing feedback based on previous discussions
  • Offering employee development opportunities
  • Linking pay and rewards to employee performance

Reviews are your way of keeping track of employee performance. They’re also how you’ll provide recognition and feedback to your employees.

That sounds simple, yet it’s something that many businesses struggle with. The stats bear this out:

  • 20% of employees don’t believe they get good performance reviews from their managers.
  • Almost 75% of millennial workers don’t know if they’re performing well.
  • A staggering 95% of managers aren’t happy with their performance review processes

This has led to a mistaken belief that performance reviews aren’t valuable. That’s not the case. Instead, it shows that your performance review model isn’t up to a high enough standard.  Here are 6 performance management strategies for your managers and supervisors. Each helps to build a strong performance review process.

Performance Management Strategy #1 – Define Expectations

performance management strategies,great managersYour managers can’t define their expectations if they don’t understand yours. A lack of understanding of the organisation’s objectives leads to a loss of focus. Your managers don’t know what to communicate to employees because they don’t know what areas to focus on.

Don’t assume that your managers already know what you need from them. Build your organisation’s vision and aims into your performance management training. Emphasise what your managers need to deliver from their reviews. After all, they’re the ones delivering these expectations to your employees.

Knowing what you expect from them means they’re more able to define what they expect from your employees.

So, how do you define these expectations?

It comes down to having a clear organisational vision. Make it something unique that defines the organisation’s future, as well as its present. You’re looking to inspire a connection and a sense of belonging. If your managers feel this connection, they’ll want to create it in their teams as well.

Establishing your vision with managers allows it to trickle down. It reaches all areas of the organisation via your managers’ performance reviews.

Performance Management Strategy #2 – Stress the Importance of Regular Reviews

Most managers believe that they should hold reviews yearly. This almost makes them seem less important. They become an end-of-year inconvenience. But they should be a method of tracking employee performance.  Doing them yearly makes them a task to get through. Plus, it means that managers miss important developments.

Your strategy must counter this idea. Emphasise the importance of regular review sessions to your managers.

So, how do you do this?

There are a few ways to encourage managers to hold reviews more often:

  • Highlight that they’re a way to trigger discussions with employees. Many people don’t feel like they get enough feedback from their managers. Others feel like they don’t have a voice in the organisation. Regular reviews offer them the chance to express their viewpoints.
  • Note how regular reviews help managers to keep track of short-term objectives. This is particularly useful when working on projects that have lots of milestones. Regular reviews help managers to ensure employees haven’t lost focus.
  • Discuss how having a running record of reviews makes it easier to reward employees. Managers will figure out how to incentivise employees based on performance. This leads to stronger results.

Your system must dispel the myth that performance reviews aren’t valuable tools. This is an idea that festers when you don’t hold reviews often enough. Emphasise what managers get out of holding regular reviews. Moreover, emphasise how this benefits the organisation in the long run.

Performance Management Strategies

Performance Management Strategy #3 – Move Away From the Lecture Format

Did you know that 46% of people leave meetings with no idea of what they’re supposed to do next?

This often comes down to ineffective communication.

Your performance reviews are meetings that your managers hold with employees. If managers don’t communicate well, employee performance doesn’t improve.

Focus your performance management strategy on message delivery. Employees don’t want to sit through a 60-minute lecture when they go for a review. They’ll lose focus and start to resent the lack of two-way communication.

Train managers to understand that reviews are two-way discussions. They’re about employees analysing themselves as well as managers analysing employees.

Failure to provide employees with the opportunity to speak damages the review. At worst, it creates resentment. Your people feel like they don’t have a voice.

That’s what the lecture format does. It forces employees to sit through a long presentation about themselves. As soon as something negative comes up, they’ll focus on that. The positive messages get lost, which leads to resentment.

Develop performance reviews that highlight key discussion topics. Then, train managers on how to use these topics to provide their own feedback. All the while, encourage employees to talk about themselves.

This creates more open reviews that improve employee morale.

Performance Management Strategy  #4 – Define Rating Scales

Most performance reviews have rating scales attached. For example, you may ask managers to rate employees on a scale of 1 to 5 on different aspects of their work.

Rating scales provide an at-a-glance means of analysing an employee’s performance. But they mean very little if you don’t define the scale itself.

performance management strategies,great managersDefine what each level of the scale means. Don’t let managers assume that a 3 means average performance. Instead, define the 3 as something more usable.

For example, you could define a 3 out of 5 as the following:

“The employee meets our performance expectations. This means they achieve the expected results in relation to the employee’s role”.

This tells managers that a 3 means the employee is performing as the role requires them to. But it also shows that there’s room for improvement. The employee isn’t going above and beyond to contribute more to the organisation. As a result, the manager may recognise that they could do more to motivate that employee.

The type of scale you use doesn’t matter. A numbered scale works as well as a grading scale. What matters is what the scale actually means in relation to employee performance. Ensure your scale becomes a vital part of your performance management strategy.

Performance Management Strategy #5 – Emphasise a Focus on the Positives

There’s an old performance management technique known as the “feedback sandwich”.

It involves providing a piece of positive feedback, followed by negative. You then follow this with another positive comment.

On the surface, it seems like it should work. You’re offering more positive feedback than negative, which should improve morale. You’re also covering the things that the employee needs to do to improve.

But there’s a problem.

Performance Management Strategies

Employees tend to focus on the negatives during their reviews. Once you’ve offered negative feedback, the positive that follows gets lost. People are still too stuck on the negative.

But you need to focus on the negatives too, so what do you do?

The answer is still staying positive. It comes down to how your managers frame their negative feedback. If they only tell employees about something that’s not right, they won’t get a good reaction.


Instead, train your managers to focus on the positive steps the employee needs to take to improve. This takes the focus away from the negative issue. Better yet, it fixes the employee’s focus on the actions you need them to take.

Help your managers to spin negative feedback into positive reactions.

Performance Management Strategy #6 – Review Your Reviewers

You’re responsible for reviewing the performance of your managers. How you work with them influences how they review their team members. As a result, your performance reviews set an example for how the system should work.

Hold reviews in the manner that you want your managers to hold theirs. Stick to the strategies in this list to emphasise their importance.

It’s also worth doing some role-reversal. Have your managers lead review sessions with you as the employee. This allows you to figure out if they’ve actually adopted these strategies. It also allows you to point out issues that they need to work on.

As with any business process, constant review and analysis lead to better results. You may even pick up some new ideas from your managers during these sessions.

The Final Word

That’s our performance management strategies list for performance reviews. Follow it and you’ll come away with some key performance management strategies to implement.

Here’s what should form the backbone of your performance management strategy:

  • Reinforce the organisation’s vision to ensure managers do the same in their reviews
  • Highlight the importance of providing regular feedback to employees
  • Encourage two-way communication to avoid the lecture format
  • Add definitions to any rating systems that you use
  • Keep the focus on positive actions, even when dealing with employee negatives
  • Always review and analyse your performance reviews

Implementing the right performance management strategies for managers and supervisors leads to better results.

And remember, a great manager can DOUBLE the capacity of their people.

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