What's The Most Important Part of Training For Performance Management and Annual Reviews?

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Most organizations make the same mistake when it comes to training supervisors and managers on how to conduct performance reviews, and manage performance. They focus on the specific actions (filling out the forms, entering things into software), the nuts and bolts of the thing, and that doesn't work.

In fact, it backfires because:

Performance management and reviews fail so often, not because supervisors and managers don't know how to do the nuts and bolts, but because they don't have a good grasp of WHY they are conducting them. As a result, they become adept at "going through the motions". You teach them to fill out forms, and that's what they focus on, and the result is you get the absolute minimum.

Managers and supervisors end up thinking there's no real benefits to them, and that's one reason they delay and procrastinate. They don't see the point, so unless you focus on the benefits to THEM, no amount of this kind of training has a positive effect.

Focus On The Concepts

In my training of managers to do performance management, I've found that when you get managers onboard with the concepts and principles of proper performance management - clearing away barriers, helping each employee succeed, and get them to understand their roles, and where performance management fits, they will figure out a lot of the HOW details.

In other words, I've found that a three hour session that "aims" managers at some clear purpose for the process works just as well as five days of nuts and bolts training.

How I've Done It

I start off these sessions, which are usually limited to three hours, by asking managers what kinds of employees they want. The reason to do this is to have a starting point, and then to link the performance management system to getting, creating, and supporting those employees. When you get buy in at that level, and make the link in managers' minds, the rest is easy.

Then Focus On Benefits Of Performance Management

Once you have a list of employee characteristics (e.g. self-directing, taking initiative, making few mistakes, etc,) then you explain how manaing performance will help each manager achieve the goals they want, and how an initial investment has huge payoff in ways that THEY feel are important.

Once managers see the benefits, and understand the shift in conceptual system from doing things TO employees, to doing things WITH employees, they'll be much more likely to do more than "just what's required" -- filling in the forms. When they understand it's not about getting the whole thing out of the way, but that there are huge benefits from doing it well, they'll start having the kinds of discussion, goal setting, and communication on which all effective performance management systems rely upon.

The upshot is that if you do it this way, even if your actual system, the nuts and bolts of it is terrible or useless, you've given managers the mental tools to succeed in spite of a poor system.


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