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Define Performance Management

Inspiring Performance!

There are several ways to define performance management. In our article: Definition of Performance Management, we consider features from some of the more traditional definitions. These focus mainly on the idea that managing performance is about applying a process.

However, such a focus on its own is not enough. The challenge is to manage these processes in such a way that teams are inspired to take ownership of their own performance. This article is about ways to define performance management that capture the heart of the process?

It is too easy to think of performance management as an event, an annual activity or meeting. However, this kind of perspective is much too narrow. Performance management is an on-going process. One that involves a regular review of progress, rather than a yearly, catch-all/catch-up meeting.

All too often, performance management is limited to a single annual review. Whether labelled appraisal or development reviews, this approach falls well short of effectively managing performance, and often does little more than meet an organizational requirement.

Define Performance Management

Contrast this with Peter Drucker’s assertion that: “the ultimate test of management is performance”.

Performance management matters to everyone involved in the process. It’s one way to help ensure that what we do, we do well. It also helps us deliver the quality in our products or services that our customers want.

Performance management is about good management, that delivers for customers, individuals, their teams and the organization.

Of course, as a manager, what you’d ideally want is a team of people who are self-motivated, and committed to doing their jobs to the very best of their abilities.

This means a team of people who need the minimum of day-to-day supervision and control. Who respond positively because they want to and not because they have to. Who willingly “go the extra mile”.

Managing performance is not about coercion; it’s about encouraging people to work to their potential – because they want to.

We would say that one way to define performance management is to enable our people to P.E.R.F.O.R.M. We can do this by:

  • Developing the Potential in employees
  • Putting the employee’s Expertise to work, where they can contribute most;
  • Allocating appropriate Resources to the right areas, and to the right people;
  • Placing a Focus on priorities, to ensure these get done, and that they fit team and organizational needs and goals;
  • Creating Opportunities for employees to excel;
  • Reviewing Results to monitor performance and feedback improvements;
  • Helping to Motivate employees to realise their potential.

The Apex P.E.R.F.O.R.M. model, was developed to help managers to become more effective at performance management. The process is outlined in our article: how to motivate employees to perform. The model works well beside the stages common to any performance management cycle: review; plan; develop; and perform.

The P.E.R.F.O.R.M. model highlights the principals of the performance management process, ensuring that emphasis is placed on performance, rather than on process. That’s how we would define performance management.

Define performance management differently

So, how do you “manage performance?” The key is in creating a working environment which allows teams to use their abilities to perform, and which encourages their desire to do so. Though not entirely within your gift, to a large extent effective performance management is down to you, the manager. Performance management is about creating that environment, and this requires far more than just an annual performance appraisal.

Having explored a different way to define performance management, the next question to ask is: how do you do it? We try to answer this question in our article: how to motivate employees to perform.

It’s not enough to just define performance management!

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It’s not enough to just define performance management, however differently! The next step is to put the idea into practice. So if you’re interested in applying our principles of performance management turn to our fantastic e-guide bundle. Including a colossal 253 pages and 95 tools, it contains 8 key guides we recommend to help you manage better performance, at half price!

It’s All About Performance (24 pages, 4 diagnostic tools)

Managing Performance and Potential (26 pages, 4 tools)

Conducting a Performance Review (33 pages, 8 tools)

Manage Your Own Performance (28 pages, 6 tools)

Motivating Performance (37 pages, 10 tools)

Performance Management Skills (19 pages, 7 tools)

Where to go from here:


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