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The Empuls Glossary

Glossary of Human Resources Management and Employee Benefit Terms

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Performance Management

Employee performance management is a process in which organizations establish clear performance expectations and goals for employees, measure their progress toward these goals, provide feedback and coaching to help employees improve their performance, and use this information to make decisions about promotions, compensation, and other rewards. 

The process typically involves regular communication and feedback between managers and employees, as well as formal evaluations or appraisals of employee performance. The overall goal of employee performance management is to help employees understand their roles and responsibilities, identify areas for improvement, and achieve their full potential within the organization.

What is employee performance management?

Employee performance management is the process of setting goals, measuring progress, and providing feedback and support to employees to help them improve their performance and achieve their full potential in the workplace.

What are employee performance management best practices?

Effective employee performance management is a continuous process that fosters growth, development, and strong performance within your organization. Here are some key best practices to ensure your program is successful:

Setting the stage:

  • Align with business goals: Ensure your performance management system directly supports your company's overall strategy. Connect individual and team goals to departmental objectives and desired business outcomes.
  • Focus on development: Performance management should be about more than just evaluation. Use it as a tool to identify employee strengths and weaknesses and create opportunities for professional development.
  • Clear communication: Clearly communicate expectations to employees at all levels. This includes outlining the performance management process, evaluation criteria, and how feedback will be provided.
  • Manager training: Equip managers with the skills and knowledge to conduct effective performance evaluations, including providing constructive feedback and coaching employees.
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Why is employee performance management important?

Employee performance management is important because it helps organizations ensure that their employees are working effectively and efficiently toward achieving organizational goals. It also helps employees understand their roles and responsibilities and provides them with opportunities to grow and develop within their jobs.

What are the components of employee performance management?

The components of employee performance management typically include:

  1. Goal setting: This involves setting clear, measurable, and achievable performance expectations and goals for employees, which should align with the organization's overall goals and objectives.
  2. Ongoing feedback and coaching: Managers should provide regular feedback and coaching to employees to help them understand how well they are meeting their goals, identify areas for improvement, and develop their skills and abilities.
  3. Performance evaluation: Managers should conduct formal evaluations or appraisals of employee performance regularly, typically annually or biannually, to assess progress toward goals and provide feedback on overall performance.
  4. Development and training: Based on performance evaluations and feedback, managers should identify development and training needs for employees and provide opportunities for them to learn and develop new skills.
  5. Rewards and recognition: Based on performance evaluations and progress towards goals, managers should make decisions about rewards and recognition, such as promotions, bonuses, or other forms of compensation.

What are the stages of employee performance management?

Here's a breakdown of the typical stages involved in employee performance management:

1. Planning & goal setting (Beginning of cycle):

  • Collaborative goal setting: Work with each employee to establish clear, specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (SMART) goals at the beginning of a review period. These goals should align with individual roles, departmental objectives, and the company's strategic vision.
  • Provide resources: Ensure employees have the necessary resources and support to achieve their goals. This could include training opportunities, mentorship programs, or access to needed tools and equipment.

2. Continuous monitoring & feedback (Throughout cycle):

  • Regular check-ins: Schedule regular one-on-one meetings throughout the review period to discuss progress towards goals, identify any challenges, and provide ongoing feedback. This helps employees stay on track and course-correct if needed.
  • Two-way communication: Performance conversations should be a two-way street. Encourage employee self-reflection and participation in discussions about their development.

3. Mid-cycle review (Optional - mid-point of cycle):

  • Evaluate progress: Conduct a mid-cycle check-in to assess progress towards goals and address any roadblocks or emerging development needs. This allows for adjustments if necessary.

4. Performance evaluation (End of cycle):

  • Formal evaluation: Conduct a formal evaluation at the end of the review period. This evaluation should summarize the employee's performance against established goals, highlight achievements, and provide constructive feedback for improvement.
  • Development planning: Work with the employee to create a development plan for the next review period. This plan should outline specific goals for growth and identify any training or support needed.

5. Recognition & rewards (Ongoing):

  • Recognize achievements: Throughout the year, acknowledge and celebrate employee accomplishments. This reinforces positive behaviors and motivates continued strong performance.
  • Performance-based rewards: Consider linking rewards, such as bonuses or promotions, to the achievement of performance goals.

How often should performance evaluations be conducted?

Performance evaluations should be conducted regularly, typically annually or biannually. However, ongoing feedback and coaching should be provided throughout the year to help employees stay on track and progress toward their goals.

What are employee performance management goals?

Employee performance management (EPM) goals encompass the overall objectives you aim to achieve through your organization's EPM system. These goals should focus on both individual employee growth and alignment with the company's strategic direction. Here's a breakdown of key EPM goals:

1. Improved individual performance:

  • Enhance skillsets: A core goal is to help employees develop and refine their skills to excel in their roles. This could involve setting goals for learning new software, mastering specific procedures, or improving communication abilities.
  • Boost productivity & efficiency: EPM aims to empower employees to work smarter, not harder. Setting goals around project completion times, output quality, or streamlining processes can contribute to overall productivity gains.
  • Increase employee engagement: Motivated employees are more engaged and invested in their work. EPM goals can target fostering a culture of recognition, providing opportunities for professional development, and ensuring clear communication to keep employees feeling valued and engaged.

2. Strategic alignment:

  • Cascade organizational goals: A crucial EPM goal is to ensure individual and team goals directly contribute to achieving the company's broader strategic objectives. By cascading these goals down through the organization, everyone works towards the same vision.
  • Develop future leaders: Identifying and nurturing high-potential employees is vital for succession planning. EPM can set goals for leadership development programs, mentorship opportunities, and stretch assignments to cultivate future leaders within the organization.
  • Drive innovation & continuous improvement: A well-designed EPM system fosters a culture of continuous learning and improvement. Setting goals around encouraging innovative ideas, streamlining processes, and promoting knowledge sharing can lead to a more agile and adaptable organization.

3. Strengthen feedback & development culture:

  • Provide effective feedback: A key EPM goal is to equip managers with the skills to deliver constructive and actionable feedback that helps employees improve. Setting goals around training managers on effective feedback techniques can significantly enhance employee development.
  • Create a development-oriented environment: Employees thrive when they feel supported in their growth. EPM goals can target creating a culture that values learning, provides development opportunities, and encourages employees to take ownership of their career advancement.

4. Enhance overall business performance:

  • Increase customer satisfaction: By setting goals around improving customer service skills, responsiveness, and addressing customer needs, EPM can contribute to higher customer satisfaction levels.
  • Boost revenue & profitability: Ultimately, effective EPM should lead to a more productive and efficient workforce, contributing to increased revenue and profitability for the organization.

How can managers provide effective feedback to employees?

Managers can provide effective feedback to employees by being specific, timely, and objective in their feedback. They should focus on behaviors rather than personality traits and provide both positive and constructive feedback. They should also listen actively and engage in a two-way dialogue with employees to ensure that they understand and can act on the feedback provided.

What are some common challenges in employee performance management?

Some common challenges in employee performance management include:

  1. Setting unclear or unrealistic goals: If employees are unsure of what they are expected to achieve or if their goals are too challenging or unrealistic, they may become demotivated or disengaged.
  2. Lack of communication or feedback: If managers do not provide regular feedback and communication to employees, they may not understand what they are doing well or where to improve.
  3. Bias or subjectivity in performance evaluations: If evaluations are not based on clear and objective criteria, or if managers have personal biases or favoritism towards certain employees, the evaluations may not accurately reflect employees' performance.
  4. Resistance or lack of buy-in from employees: If employees do not see the value in the performance management process or believe it is fair or effective, they may not engage fully in it or resist changing their performance.
  5. Lack of training or support for managers: If managers are not trained in how to conduct effective performance evaluations or how to provide constructive feedback and support to employees, they may struggle to manage employee performance effectively.

Employee pulse surveys:

These are short surveys that can be sent frequently to check what your employees think about an issue quickly. The survey comprises fewer questions (not more than 10) to get the information quickly. These can be administered at regular intervals (monthly/weekly/quarterly).

One-on-one meetings:

Having periodic, hour-long meetings for an informal chat with every team member is an excellent way to get a true sense of what’s happening with them. Since it is a safe and private conversation, it helps you get better details about an issue.


eNPS (employee Net Promoter score) is one of the simplest yet effective ways to assess your employee's opinion of your company. It includes one intriguing question that gauges loyalty. An example of eNPS questions include: How likely are you to recommend our company to others? Employees respond to the eNPS survey on a scale of 1-10, where 10 denotes they are ‘highly likely’ to recommend the company and 1 signifies they are ‘highly unlikely’ to recommend it.

Based on the responses, employees can be placed in three different categories:

  • Promoters
    Employees who have responded positively or agreed.
  • Detractors
    Employees who have reacted negatively or disagreed.
  • Passives
    Employees who have stayed neutral with their responses.

How can organizations ensure that employee performance management is fair and objective?

Organizations can ensure that employee performance management is fair and objective by taking the following steps:

  1. Develop clear and measurable criteria for evaluating performance: Establishing objective performance criteria that are measurable and aligned with organizational goals can help ensure that evaluations are based on merit and not personal biases.
  2. Train managers on how to conduct fair and objective evaluations: Providing training and support to managers on how to conduct performance evaluations, provide feedback, and handle difficult conversations can help them make more objective and accurate evaluations.
  3. Involve employees in the performance management process: Soliciting feedback from employees, involving them in the goal-setting process, and providing opportunities for self-evaluation can help ensure that their perspectives and needs are taken into account.
  4. Conduct regular audits or reviews of the performance management process: Regularly reviewing the performance management process and evaluating its effectiveness can help identify potential biases or inconsistencies and make improvements to ensure that it is fair and objective.
  5. Provide resources and support for employee development: Providing opportunities for employee development and growth can help ensure that evaluations are not punitive and are focused on helping employees reach their full potential.

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