What is a Performance Management Cycle?

Performance Management - It's Not Just About How Well You Do Your Job

A Performance Management review is the process employees go through annually to show how well they are doing their jobs.

However, there is more to it than that.

Performance Management is actually about how well they are doing their jobs in the context of the strategic plan of the company or organisation.

At the start of the financial year, your organisation will set out their plans for the following year.

On the face of it, some of the strategies will not affect you but it has become the norm now for companies to underpin their ethos with 'workplace' strategies which makes the way they operate as an organisation more efficient.

In this respect, all employees become a core part of their company's planning and your role in the organisation, be it post boy, senior manager or warehouseman is part of the way the company performs. A Performance Management review is central to this process.

Performance - it sounds like a scary word, something you have to do to live up to some kind of expectation and I suppose that is actually what it is but it should not be something to fear.

In our working lives, we want to be part of an organisation where our professional development is important to our employers.

When our employers encourage our professional development, they send a clear message to us - WE MATTER!

Performance Management Cycle
Performance Management Cycle
What you should always ask at a performance management review!  It's a two way conversation, you matter!
What you should always ask at a performance management review! It's a two way conversation, you matter! | Source

Performance Management - What's In It For Me?

Performance Management and Professional Development should go hand in hand - professional development will help you to do your job better, performance management is a way for you and your employee to monitor your professional progress and performance.

You are going to develop as an employee during the next year and be better at what you do by the end of it.

When it comes to the performance management review cycle, you are entitled to ask 'what's in it for me?'

The Performance Management review cycle is not about someone spying on you while you work, it is an opportunity for you to show your skills, learn new skills and perhaps, eventually gain new qualifications and in due course, promotion.

If your performance management review is pay-related, this should also be discussed with you at the planning meeting.

By the end of the meeting, you should have a clear plan of what you are aiming for in the coming year and have a plan which is time bound (as agreed in your SMART targets).

e.g. If your meeting is in April, it might say 'By September, you will have completed the in house training on minute taking and shown an ability to take minutes by attending at least 2 meetings as minute taker (evidence = example of minutes taken).'

In some jobs, you will work to a set of professional standards and usually these standards are used in the Performance Management cycle - this is the way teachers are performance managed. Many professionals are performance managed this way.

Performance Managements first stage - Plan your performance for the coming year
Performance Managements first stage - Plan your performance for the coming year | Source

Performance Management - Planning

Performance Management is a 3-part process.

The first part of that process is PLANNING.

An initial planning meeting will be held between an employee and their line manager.

The Performance Management planning meeting will usually be about 15 minutes long.

The documents that your manager should share will you at the meeting are:

  1. Job Description
  2. Person Specification
  3. Strategic Plan - with an overview of your department's role in that plan.

The planning meeting is also a review meeting because although it is the first of 3 meetings for this year, it also provides you and your manager with an opportunity to review the year just passed and discuss:

  1. What you feel went well in the last year
  2. What you feel you could have done better
  3. Where you see yourself going in the coming year.

This explains why Performance Management reviewing is discussed in terms of it being a 'cycle'.

The cycle by nature is infinite, and the Performance Management cycle is an infinite cycle broken down into manageable stages.

By then end of the Performance Management Planning meeting you will have agreed on some targets for the coming year.

Often these are S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Manageable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound) Targets. These targets are set between you and your manager.

SMART Targets are rather better phrased as 'development steps'. You should not be asked to prove your performance and skills outside of what is outlined on your 'job description'. After all, the job description is a blueprint of what you do at the organisation!

Usually, there are no more than 3 SMART targets or development steps set for the Performance Management Cycle, sometimes only 2. Once of the steps should be one selected by the empoyee - a 'personal' development step.


Performance Management is collaborative - you should have some input
Performance Management is collaborative - you should have some input | Source

Performance Management - Monitoring

The Performance Management review Cycle is usually a year long process and the middle part of that process is the monitoring meeting which takes place usually at about 6 months into the performance management cycle.

This is an opportunity to look again at the SMART targets set to see how well you are making progress with them.

Let's use as an example that you were set 2 development steps in your role as an administration assistant in a busy office.

Your SMART Targets were:-

  • To do a minute taking course and then take minutes at two meetings by September 2012 (6 months into the cycle) to demonstrate your ability to take minutes.
  • To job-shadow a senior colleague whilst creating the monthly staff newsletter and to show that you have learnt how to insert images in the software package (evidence of inserting images will be expected and a written endorsement from the person whom you shadowed) - by January 2013.

The monitoring meeting will be an opportunity for you and your manager to discuss how you feel your performance management cycle is going and to see whether you have met your time-bound target.

You will be able to show that you have learned how to take minutes and show evidence of this to your manager.

If you have not met your performance management SMART target, you will need to identify reasons why you are not on target.

This is not a bad thing - your manager will take notes again and if you have not met targets will suggest ways you can meet them - the SMART targets may be looked at again in the light of your progress.

If your manager has satisfied their performance management commitments - to organise your minute-taking training, to allow you to take minutes twice at meetings (remember, it's a two-way process) there should be no problems and your performance management meeting will show that you are on track.

A two way conversation
A two way conversation

Performance Management - Reviewing

The third part of the Performance Management cycle is the Review meeting which takes place at the end of the year.

Often, after the first year of a Performance Management cycle, the planning meeting and review meeting become one and the same thing or segue into one another.

This is because the review is a look back on the year's targets and an opportunity to see whether you have met your SMART targets as agreed in your planning and monitoring meetings.

At the review meeting, you will be given copies of both sets of notes from your last two meetings and identify whether the SMART Targets were achieved and also, briefly, discuss the next steps.

If your performance management is pay-related and meeting your targets would mean that you would get a pay rise, this will be discussed at the Review Meeting and you will be told whether you have achieved in order to get your pay rise.

If you have failed to meet your targets, you will discuss how much longer it might take you to achieve them.

The Review meeting of a Performance Management cycle draws a line under that year's development and targets.

Usually, the review meeting and planning meeting for the next year are one and the same meeting.

Sometimes though, the review meeting will take place and your manager will probably tell you that they are pleased with your progress and your contribution at work (if they are!) and at that meeting ask you to consider what you would like to do in the next Performance Management cycle.

They may use a proforma which you can complete to give them some ideas of where you see yourself going in the next year. They might ask you about more professional development or in-house training.

You might go away for a week or two to think about what lies ahead.

But this is a good thing - you will go into the next Performance Management cycle with some new ideas for development and training and look again at what you can do for the organisation and what the organisation can do FOR you too!

Performance Management Cycle - Does Everybody Get Performance Managed?

In short 'No'

Some bigger organisations and companies do Performance Management as a matter of course, they feel that it is an important part of their organisational strategy.

But some organisations may never have a performance management cycle or have a cycle which is more informal in nature.

Some employees think Performance Management is important and it makes them feel like their employer is taking notice of them and aware not only of their contribution to the organisation but also of their needs as employees in terms of training and development.

Other employees think it is an exercise in box ticking for the employer and basically they are there for the money.

In my experience, the performance management cycle is one of the most crucial parts of an organisation's strategic vision. It makes sense to have excellent staff working for you and if you give back to staff, you will reap rewards over time.

It also helps to develop those staff who have not had much professional development.

Performance Management is win-win!

Many thanks for reading.

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Comments 10 comments

Jools99 profile image

Jools99 3 years ago from North-East UK Author

Martie, many thanks for your kind comment and please accept my apologies on getting back so tardily! I did training on this kind of thing for a living but I am glad it is all behind me; for every employee who gets something useful out of this experience, there are 2 who are disinterested and think the world owes them a favour!


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa

Excellent hub on Performance Management. The basic rule is 'Do what you do efficiently and effectively.'

In my country too many employees from managers to clerks - in fact the damn majority - are completely incompetent and unproductive. They are in dire need of training and of this plan so well presented by you, Jools. We can say that haphazardly affirmative actions are the cause of all pathetic performances, but then we have to admit that Apartheid is the cause of affirmative actions, and this reminds me of a dog chasing its own tail. Best is to focus on Now and apply performance management with diligence.

Voted up, informative, useful and very well-presented.


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 3 years ago from North-East UK Author

Dianna, I used to be a manager before I gave up work but before that I used to advise Head Teachers on how to do Perofrmance Management for school support staff - if i can be called 'expert' in anything then it is PM for school support staff :o) No good to anyone now of course, the law keeps changing.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 3 years ago

I could have used this article when I first started working in an office that used performance evaluations to promote. Really great advice and explanation of how the process is used. Voted up!


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 3 years ago from North-East UK Author

Glad you found useful Maria! Thanks for your comment.


mariasial profile image

mariasial 3 years ago from united kingdom

good detailed knowledge about specific subject ... good hub


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 3 years ago from North-East UK Author

Thanks for your comment - it all seems so long ago now :o)


one2get2no profile image

one2get2no 3 years ago from Olney

Good stuff..exactly how I did it.


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 3 years ago from North-East UK Author

Jackie, thanks! I used to do this stuff back in the day - I don't miss it though :o)


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

Set out well and complete. Very well done.

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