New to Performance Management? Here Are the Top Four Best Practices You Need to Know


Building a workforce, ensuring effective leadership, managing critical skill gaps and managing employee performance are among the central challenges confronting federal agencies today. Key to these Human Resources responsibilities is performance management.

Whether you’re new to performance management or simply want to revitalize your methods and processes, here you’ll find four performance management best practices that you can add to your strategy today.

Staff Appropriately  

The productivity and efficiency of an agency depends heavily on effective recruiting. An HR system can ensure agencies have access to the right professionals when you need them—from highly experienced executives to those just beginning their careers.

Investing in an HR system that accounts for a candidate’s dedication, integrity and expertise can increase an agency’s agility while reducing time lost to paperwork—instead, you’ll be able to focus on your “people work.”

Plan and Set Goals

Managing human resources involves recruiting and developing people, maintaining the right mix of employees and creating conditions that will produce highly motivated individuals. It’s important to have a set of goals and processes in place to keep output consistent with objectives and ultimately meet your HR goals.

Collaborate with employees to establish individual goals and implement successful initiatives. Performance goals allow employees to plan and organize their job responsibilities to achieve those predetermined outcomes. By setting and completing effective performance targets, employees will be able to develop their skills and thrive in the workplace as they support the organization’s vision and objectives.

Monitor Performance and Give Feedback

The most substantive aspect of performance management is monitoring employee performance. In addition to having a set of goals and processes in place, a built-in system for providing feedback is imperative. Frequent, high-quality feedback will support employees in their career growth and engagement at the office, ultimately benefiting company culture and ensuring progress toward agency goals.

Supervisors, in particular, need to be confident and have the courage to give constructive feedback. Giving less than positive feedback is not always easy, but will help the employee grow in their career development. And, remember to reward good performance!

On another note, feedback can be a two-way street. Just as supervisors communicate downward through the chain of command, subordinates need to be able to communicate upward. If the supervisor is well informed, the supervisor can make better decisions and everyone wins. Constructive feedback can improve the entire team’s efficiency and communication, building a positive work environment.

Track Performance Ratings

Performance management is a continuous cycle, and a fundamental aspect of the cycle is the Annual Performance Review. Continuous feedback is the most ideal time to address employee development as well as track goals and address concerns. The annual performance review is good to receive a rating of record, which is crucial for receiving bonuses, promotions, or demotions. Also it’s the best process for documenting performance issues.

Performance standards are yardsticks–useful in evaluating employees and holding them accountable to their goals. Ratings derived from the evaluation process can be measured on a five to one point summary score—ranging from exceeding performance expectations to needing improvement in most aspects of the position. Performance ratings can also incorporate results and behaviors, which are both equally important.

While measuring results is crucial, they don’t always reveal the full picture. It can be difficult to establish clear-cut standards for a variety of jobs, whereas in other positions, results may be highly dependent on factors outside of the employee’s control. In such cases, considering behaviors (or competencies) is important.

Organizations throughout the government must work to ensure productive HR operations as well as provide an agile management environment. Doing so helps agencies meet the demands of the ever-changing human resources performance management landscape. Today, HR organizations must see employees as their customers, and need the feedback, tools, automation and technologies that drive effectiveness and efficiency in HR operations and employee development.

With all of these basic performance management tools under your belt, your employees and agency goals have a much better chance of success.

Andrew Lessard is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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