Performance Appraisals Start With Getting Employees Aimed? That's The Key

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Performance Planning

Performance planning is the starting point for performance management and it is essential in laying the groundwork for effective reviews later on. Performance planning is the process of communication between manager and employee intended to create agreement about what the employee is to do, how well he or she needs to do it, and why, when, and how success is to be determined.

Performance management starts here. When each employee has goals that he or she and the supervisor understand completely and in the same way, it’s more likely that the employee will succeed. It’s the achievement of these goals that’s going to form the basis for the performance review later in the year. In other words, first you plan for performance by setting the targets for the coming period/year; then, you use the performance review to examine whether the employee met those goals and make sure any problems are addressed.


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Imagine you and your family are going on a trip. You get the kids ready, make sure there are enough toys to keep the kids sane (you hope!), make sure the car (these days it’s probably an SUV) is mechanically sound, and hit the open highway. You drive eight hours the first day and stop at a motel. In the morning you set out again and, at the end of the day, stop at another motel. After dinner you convene a family meeting where you review the trip. “So,” you might ask, “have we had a good time?” Another useful question might be “Did we get to where we wanted to go?” Think of it as an informal performance review of the trip.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to ask these questions and expect useful responses, because you and your family didn’t do any planning. You had no goal or destination.

Performance planning A process of communication between manager and employee so both are clear on what the employee is expected to do or achieve in the coming year and how success is to be determined.

There wasn’t even a common understanding of the purpose for the trip. Was it to attend favorite Aunt Sarah’s funeral in New Jersey? Was it a vacation to the beach? Was it to scout out a town you might want to relocate to? Obviously, you can’t decide whether the trip was useful or achieved its goals, if you didn’t set any goals and nobody knew why you were making the trip. The lack of planning prevents you not only from answering questions about how well the trip went, but also from asking the right questions. If the point of the trip was to go to Aunt Sarah’s funeral, then you might ask, “Do you think we helped nieces Nancy and Rebecca through a tough time?” You wouldn’t ask, “Well, did we all have a good time and win money at the casinos?”

Proper performance planning is the bedrock of any review. Unless you first determine your goal, you can’t know if you got to where you intended to go and you certainly can’t know why not.

There’s one more element to the performance planning process. Both manager and employee must share a common understanding of what’s expected. If you look to our travel metaphor, imagine how the “trip review” meeting would go if each member of your family had a completely different idea of the purpose for the trip. Most probably, your meeting would be chaotic and cause frustration and anger. Your teenager wouldn’t agree with your six-year-old and you might not agree with your spouse. It’s the same with performance reviews.


About Company

Bacal & Associates was founded in 1992 by consultant and book author, Robert Bacal. Robert's books on performance management and reviews have been published by McGraw-Hill. He is available for consultation, training and keynote speaking on performance and management at work.


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We Believe

  • Performance management and appraisal MUST be a partnership between manager and employee where BOTH benefit.
  • Performance management can be the lever for improved employee engagement.
  • The review process is the LEAST important part of performance management
  • If managers aren't managing employee performance, why are they there?

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  • 722 St. Isidore Rd.
  • Casselman
  • Ontario
  • Canada, K0A 1M0