Performance Management Best Practices & Examples

Performance management best practices photo


Ongoing performance management leads to heightened productivity, enhanced motivation, and meeting primary objectives. Only 3% of organizations consider their performance management excellent, but 48% believe it requires improvement. Performance management system best practices include streamlining reviews, standardizing objectives and core values, creating templates, including a workplace satisfaction survey, integrating additional feedback, and empowering managers to take ownership of the process. These best practices are intended to serve as a guiding framework, but each organization must decide on processes that work well with their culture.

A common misconception is that performance management is simply providing employees with a formal performance review at least once a year. The modern workplace knows better. Performance management best practices are built upon a foundation of continuous feedback that prioritizes employee development, cultivates meaningful relationships, and informs strategic business decisions. 

The end goal of performance management is to create a high-performing culture that drives better business results. This goal is achieved by using tools that assess and improve performance in alignment with the organization’s vision.

Why Does Performance Management Matter?

For many, performance management is something to focus on once the biggest fires have been put out. However, in reality effective performance management can prevent many of those fires from starting. The list below highlights a handful of data points that show why performance management best practices are critical to employee engagement and the overall health of the company’s culture.

According to MarketSplash:

  • Companies with ongoing performance management see the following results: 
    • 66% heightened productivity
    • 65% enhanced motivation of the entire workforce
    • 64% in meeting the organization’s primary objectives
  • 70% of businesses believe there should be a more robust connection between performance management and other talent-related factors.
  • A low 3% of organizations consider their performance management to be excellent, but 48% believe it requires improvement.
  • 94% of employees expect actionable feedback and opportunities for performance enhancement from their managers.

Performance management is no longer a workplace benefit. It is an expectation. Organizations in every industry understand that the key to an engaged workforce is to invest in performance management strategies that go far beyond the annual review.

Performance Management System Best Practices

To improve performance and make organizational talent a competitive advantage, businesses must utilize systems and processes that accomplish this and fit within the daily workflow. HR leaders lean on simple, intuitive software systems that minimize time and effort while synthesizing important employee development information. 

The following list details performance management system best practices with examples. It is important to note that these best practices are intended to serve as a guiding framework, but each organization must decide on processes that work well with their culture and will therefore be more easily implemented.

1. Streamline Performance Reviews

Performance management does not just equal performance reviews. However, reviews are essential because they provide an accurate evaluation of performance efforts and workplace behaviors for each employee. When executed well, performance reviews hold employees and managers accountable and reveal opportunities for coaching and development. A few ways to streamline performance reviews are listed below:

  • Standardize objectives and core values- Ideally, every employee is held to the same standard of the organization’s core values. Performance objectives, however, are likely based on role and job description. When applicable, the same objectives can be applied across multiple job functions, allowing for more efficiency and decreasing the potential for bias. 
  • Create templates- Creating templates reduces the workload on managers and HR leaders when performance review time comes. For example, assigning the same review template for the entire Sales or Marketing department ensures all employees on that team are held to the same standard and managers are able to coach their teams more effectively.
  • Include a workplace satisfaction survey- Including questions about the employee’s general satisfaction in the review form provides managers with deeper insight that may connect dots regarding performance. It also shows employees that their satisfaction is a priority and that the review conversation is about more than just performance. Pairing a survey with a review at the same time also helps to alleviate form fatigue down the road.

workplace satisfaction report screenshot

  • Integrate additional feedback- For a more robust review conversation, consider integrating additional feedback such as performance check-ins,  360-degree feedback, and peer recognition. This invites multiple perspectives into the discussion and helps the manager to give a well-informed evaluation. 
  • Empower managers to take ownership- In addition to providing managers with proper training on how to coach their employees well, managers should also be encouraged to take ownership of the performance review process. WorkDove allows managers to assign performance review forms, update goals and objectives, and digitally attach 360 feedback for their direct report to the review itself.


2. Implement Ongoing Check-Ins

True performance management means investing in the employee through intentional coaching and development to reach their potential. If coaching conversations are strictly reserved for performance review time, the employee will not feel valued. Consistent, frequent, ongoing check-in conversations must occur to foster a healthy relationship between the manager and employee. 

Continuous feedback loops allow for crucial conversations to happen sooner. Managers can gauge coaching needs for performance or workplace behaviors and address them in a timely manner.

They can also gain an understanding of the employee’s general sentiment and satisfaction. WorkDove’s Check-In tool includes open-ended questions designed to jumpstart discussions, the ability to provide goal updates, and a prompt for action items. The Pulse survey in the Check-In feature allows employees to share their general sentiment and managers to track sentiment trends over time.

one-on-one performance check-in

3. Gather Peer Feedback

High-performance organizations have peer and multi-rater feedback embedded in their cultures. Whether transparent or anonymous, growing your team’s comfortability with giving and receiving feedback paves the way to an environment that values growth and eliminates blind spots. By including peer, upward, and external feedback, collaboration is improved and bias is decreased.

While some teams choose to solicit feedback exclusively during performance review time, others gather input throughout the year, such as once each quarter or at the completion of a big project. It is recommended that managers receive the feedback given to their direct reports so they can discern if the feedback is constructive vs. critical before sharing it. Additionally, employees should be able to request and visualize feedback to make real-time improvements and find areas for development.  A few key features of WorkDove’s 360 tool are customizable templates, automated workflows, adjustable reports and dashboards, and pre-loaded, best-in-class form questions.

4. Align Goals with Company Vision

Goals must be aligned to the organization’s strategic vision for the greatest impact. Creating individual, department/division, and company-wide goals with the vision as the lead ensures all efforts directly contribute and all team members are headed in the same direction. Employees can easily see that their individual performance matters, thereby increasing engagement and ownership of their actions. 

A recommended best practice is to incorporate goals into ongoing performance check-ins and performance reviews to keep a constant pulse on progress and allow for manager feedback. WorkDove’s Goal Management provides a visual aid for employees to see how company goals cascade down to their individual goals, increasing transparency and empowering team members.

5. Develop a Leadership Succession Process

One of the biggest mistakes organizations make is not developing a process for leadership succession. Identifying and coaching potential leaders secures the organization’s future and protects it from distress when core leaders exit. 

WorkDove’s 9-box tool has filled a large gap in the market by providing a system for current leaders to analyze employees based on 2 factors: performance and potential. By using performance and behavior scores in the Performance Review app alongside the 9-box, leaders can make informed decisions, collaborate in real-time, and visualize employee placements. Because leadership succession decisions should be rooted in thoughtful discussion, the tool allows leaders to adjust their placements before finalization.

6. Create Thoughtful Individual Development Plans

According to PwC, 74% of workers want to acquire new skills in their training. This eagerness to learn is to remain employed and to advance in the workplace. A key component of effective performance management is reducing attrition through continuous career development, ideally in the form of individual development plans (IDPs).

While manual IDPs are cumbersome, IDP software like WorkDove seamlessly creates development plans that target areas of growth unique to the individual, establishes clear action items, and highlights success measures such as, “What does ‘done’ look like?” all in one place. A tool that showcases an employee’s strengths, value, and coaching opportunities prioritizes the employee’s journey and helps managers retain and develop talent.

7. Institute Employee Recognition

In a working world of hybrid and remote employees, recognition is critical for employee engagement and improving team morale. Celebrating wins and sharing appreciation of positive workplace behaviors helps to build a healthy culture and reminds individuals that their efforts do not go unnoticed. 

A recommended best practice is to align employee recognition with company core values/workplace behaviors. This ensures that recognition is given based on a set standard and encourages that recognition to be more meaningful. Saying “Great job!” is far less impactful than “Your dedication to the core value of Collaboration is beneficial to our team and our clients.” Giving and receiving praise based on workplace behaviors reinforces company culture and keeps teams connected. WorkDove integrates recognition with Microsoft Teams™ and Slack so giving praise to peers is easier than ever.

8. Utilize Surveys 

Employees will share their opinions when given the opportunity. Incorporating surveys into the performance management program shows employees their thoughts and feelings are important and it gives business leaders valuable insight into what potential changes should be made.  

Two recommended surveys to consider incorporating are an employee engagement survey and an employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) survey. Keep in mind that surveys do not necessarily have to be a list of several questions to get the results the organization desires. 

For example, WorkDove’s Workplace Satisfaction report in the Performance Review app and the employee sentiment survey measured through WorkDove Check-Ins both produce ‘survey’ results absent of the long form. The eNPS asks one distinct question: How likely are you to recommend to others that our organization is a great place to work? All of the above are creative and beneficial ways to measure employee engagement without causing form fatigue.

What is the Best Way to Manage Performance?

Effective performance management is ongoing and employee-focused. The best way to manage performance is to incorporate various avenues that elevate employee development, communication, and engagement for the purpose of producing better business results. 

Equipping all organizational leaders with the necessary tools to invest in their direct reports is the first step in instilling performance management best practices. It is critical to partner with a software system that aligns with the organization’s mission, vision, and core values. If you are ready to create or enhance performance management best practices today, begin a conversation with WorkDove!

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