10 Tips for Becoming a Great Performance Management Leader - dummies

10 Tips for Becoming a Great Performance Management Leader

By Herman Aguinis

If you manage people, you must learn several important skills to become a performance management leader. This list describes the ten skills that are most important in the areas of coaching, evaluation, and feedback.

Leadership skills

©By arka38/Shutterstock.com

Become an effective performance management coach

To become an effective coach, do the following seven things:

  • Establish development objectives.
  • Communicate effectively.
  • Motivate employees.
  • Document performance.
  • Give feedback.
  • Diagnose performance problems and performance decline.
  • Develop employees.

Develop a good coaching relationship and facilitate employee development

A good coaching relationship is essential. The relationship between the coach and the employee must be trusting and collaborative.

You must listen in order to understand. In other words, the coach needs to try to walk in the employee’s shoes and view the job and organization from his or her perspective. Coach with empathy and compassion. Such compassionate coaching will help develop a good relationship with the employee.

Your main role is one of facilitation. You must direct the process and help with the content (for example, of a developmental plan) but not take control of these issues. You need to maintain an attitude of exploration; help expand the employee’s awareness of strengths, resources, and challenges; and facilitate goal setting.

Understand your own coaching style

Learn which is your preferred coaching style:

  • Driving style: You tell your employee being coached what to do.
  • Persuading style: You sell what you want the employee to do.
  • Amiable style: You want everyone to be happy.
  • Analyzing style: You offer logical and systematic analysis and then follow rules and procedures when providing a recommendation.

Here’s the catch: No style is necessarily superior to the others. Performance management leadership involves sometimes providing direction, sometimes persuading employees how to do things a certain way, sometimes showing empathy and creating positive effects, and sometimes paying close attention to established rules and procedures.

Make the employee the director of change

You must understand that the employee is the source of change and self-growth. After all, the purpose of coaching is to change employee behavior and set a direction for what the employee will do better in the future.

This type of change does not happen if the employee isn’t in the driver’s seat. So, allow the employee to set the agenda, goals, and direction.

Learn how to evaluate performance accurately

Performance management leaders are experts at observing and employee evaluation. To do so, they participate in three types of training programs:

  • Rater error training (RET): Increases rating accuracy by making raters aware of the unintentional errors they are likely to make. RET programs include definitions of the most typical errors and a description of possible causes for those errors.
  • Frame of reference (FOR): Helps improve rater accuracy by familiarizing raters with the various performance dimensions to be assessed. The overall goal is to give raters skills so that they can minimize unintentional errors and provide accurate ratings on each performance dimension by developing a common FOR.
  • Behavioral observation (BO): Focuses on how raters observe, store, recall, and use information about performance. This type of training improves raters’ skills at observing performance.

Document performance accurately

Document performance accurately by following seven recommendations:

  • Be specific.
  • Use adjectives and adverbs sparingly.
  • Balance positives with negatives.
  • Focus on job-related information.
  • Be comprehensive.
  • Standardize procedures.
  • Describe observable behavior and results.

Give feedback effectively

Effective feedback has the following seven qualities:

  • Timeliness: Give feedback as close to the performance event as possible.
  • Frequency: Feedback should be provided on an ongoing basis.
  • Specificity: Give feedback about specific work behaviors, results, and the situation in which these behaviors and results were observed.
  • Privacy: Give feedback in a place and at a time that prevent any potential embarrassment.
  • Consequences: Feedback should include contextual information that allows the employee to understand the importance and consequences of the behaviors and results in question.
  • Description first, evaluation second: Focus on describing behaviors and results first and then evaluating them.
  • Advice and idea generation: Feedback can include advice given by the supervisor about how to improve performance.

Conduct effective performance review meetings

Use the following nine steps to have good meetings:

  1. Explain the purpose of the meeting.
  2. Conduct self-appraisal.
  3. Share performance data and explain rationale.
  4. Discuss development.
  5. Ask employee to summarize.
  6. Discuss rewards.
  7. Hold follow-up meeting.
  8. Discuss approval and appeals process.
  9. Conduct final recap.

Be fair and direct in the disciplinary process

When a disciplinary process seems to be the only recourse, treat employees with respect and dignity. This is what performance management leaders do to avoid common pitfalls:

  • Don’t ignore performance problems and address them as possible.
  • Be very specific about the performance problem and the consequences of not addressing it effectively.
  • Don’t let emotional reactions derail you from your mission and role as a performance management leader, which is to describe the nature of the problem, what needs to be done, and consequences of not doing so.
  • If you are planning on implementing a disciplinary or termination process, consult with your HR department regarding legal requirements.

Be fair and direct in the termination process

This is what performance management leaders do when they face a termination situation:

  • Be respectful.
  • Get right to the point.
  • Let the employee grieve.
  • Wish the employee well.
  • Send the employee to HR.
  • Have the employee leave immediately.
  • Have the termination meeting at the end of the day.