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In order for the performance management process to be efficient and effective, supervisors must master the process and apply it consistently. The Federal Competency Assessment Tool – Management (FCAT- M) assesses whether, and to what degree, supervisors have specific competencies. One of these competencies is Understanding Performance Management Process and Practices. A supervisor equipped with this competency will be able to better focus employee efforts on achieving organizational and individual goals.
What is performance management? According to A Handbook for Measuring Employee Performance, performance management is the systematic process of:
- planning work and setting expectations
- continually monitoring performance
- the capacity to perform
- periodically rating performance in a summary fashion
- good performance
Planning. The supervisor should meet with employees to create their performance plans. The supervisor should establish measurable goals that align to the agency’s strategic and operational plans and consult with his/her employees when creating these goals. It is in this planning stage that the supervisor has an opportunity to explain to employees how their performance directly impacts how the agency and work unit will achieve their goals.
Monitoring. The supervisor should monitor employee progress, not only when there is a progress review due, but on a continuous basis throughout the appraisal period. Monitoring gives the supervisor an opportunity to make a course correction or adjust a timeline if it is needed so that employees will produce the desired outcome of successfully achieving the agency’s or work unit’s goals. It also provides the opportunity for the supervisor to make employees aware of their progress, whether favorable or unacceptable. Should the supervisor determine the employee has unacceptable performance on any critical element, monitoring performance enables the supervisor to identify the problem early and get an opportunity period in place well before the rating of record is due.
Developing. The supervisor should be able to determine from continuous monitoring whether employees need additional development to achieve their assigned responsibilities. It is important to remember that employee development includes not only remediation but enhancing good performance as well. Types of development could include
- formal training (classroom)
- informal training (online)
- coaching or mentoring
- new work assignments (additional responsibilities)
- details (within current agency or to an outside agency)
Rating. The supervisor will use the knowledge gained from monitoring the employee’s performance during the appraisal period to compare that performance against the employee’s elements and standards and assign a rating of record. The final rating should not be a surprise to the employee, particularly when the supervisor and the employee have had numerous performance discussions during the rating period.
Rewarding. The supervisor must make meaningful distinctions when granting awards. Award amounts should be clearly distinguishable between different performance levels that are fully successful or above. Performance management should support compensation decisions.
Every agency has policies that govern performance management that are unique to the agency. Supervisors must, in addition to mastering and consistently applying good planning, monitoring, developing, rating, and rewarding practices, learn and apply those policies as they relate to the agency-specific practices of performance management. For more guidance on agency-specific performance management systems, refer to the agency’s policy and procedures manual.
To determine whether they have implemented their agency’s performance management system successfully, supervisors need to answer the following questions:
- Does my application of the system encourage better performance, and
- Has performance improved during the appraisal period?
Positive answers reflect effective application of good performance management policies and practices.