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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

Performance Management Systems: How to Empower Employees and Reach Organizational Objectives

October 23, 2023

Performance Management BlogPerformance management provides an excellent opportunity to give employees the support and guidance they need while also progressing toward a variety of organizational objectives.

These systems can be highly impactful, but only if they are implemented with care. To that end, we’ve provided detailed insight into the value of performance management and the key considerations to address when designing and launching these programs.

What Are the Key Components of an Effective Performance Management System?

No two performance management systems look exactly alike. These must be crafted with the specific structure and needs of the individual organization in mind. Therefore, the most impactful systems follow a simple cycle: setting goals, obtaining ongoing feedback and receiving fair assessments (or rewards) before starting the entire process over again.

Each of these components is critical to the success of the performance management process. As such, we’ve highlighted key considerations in detail, along with opportunities for office managers or administrators to boost results every step of the way:

Goal Setting and Performance

Goals form the basis of any performance management system. This is what sets the tone for individual employees, giving them something to strive for and a reason to remain engaged.

Begin by setting clear expectations so that employees understand the framework in which they will set and pursue meaningful goals. Remind them that these goals really do matter — and that their performance will be followed and, hopefully, rewarded along the way.

Outline Your Smart Goals

Simply having goals is not good enough. The wrong goals will do little to motivate employees, nor will they help organizations make progress toward larger or longer-term objectives. Rather, both organizational and individual goals must be SMART:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Bound

SMART strategies ensure that goals are ambitious enough to keep employees engaged but not so far-reaching that they become discouraged.

Employees may need some guidance regarding what, exactly, constitutes a SMART goal and why these qualities are so important. If they are on the right track, but their goals need a little tweaking, don’t hesitate to let them know how they can achieve SMART ideals and why this will benefit them in the long run.

Organizational Objectives

Performance management represents a strategic blend of individual goals and overarching organizational objectives. The former must be developed with the latter in mind. As such, it is essential to define these objectives early on.

From the office administrator’s perspective, these objectives may come from the top down; the administrator does not necessarily play the central role in setting the objectives. Instead, by optimizing employee performance (in pursuit of individuals’ goals) they can ensure consistent progress is made toward meeting these benchmarks.

Still, office administrators have enough exposure to both employees and management to provide valuable insight into which objectives might be worth pursuing and what it might take to help employees along the way.

Consistent and Regular Feedback Techniques

It’s critical for employees to develop goals that they find personally compelling, but they will still require accountability. This should arrive in the form of regular feedback, which lets them know — from the perspective of the office manager or administrator — where they stand and how far they have to go.

Grasping the Different Steps of Implementing an Effective Performance Management System

An effective performance management system is more than the sum of its parts. Yes, each component must be present, but strategic implementation is just as important. Keep the following in mind as you prepare to enact a genuinely impactful performance management system:

Know Your Organizational Needs

Organizational objectives must be at the center of any performance management system. Yes, individual employee results matter, but only within the context of greater organizational needs.

This begins with first assessing the entire organization as it stands: what are key weaknesses that need to be addressed? From there, determine whether a performance management mindset exists among executives and employees — and if not, how this can be encouraged.

Identify the Gaps in Performance

No matter how skilled or motivated a particular employee may be, there will always be a gap between how this individual actually performs and where your expectations lie.

Known as performance expectation gaps, these chasms must be measured and examined to reveal how much progress employees are realistically capable of making. Identify these at the outset of each performance management cycle, as well as how much progress has been made and whether new benchmarks are necessary.

Set Measurement for Performance

A variety of key performance indicators (KPIs) can reveal how individual employees are doing and whether the system as a whole is impactful. Select these based on previously identified organizational needs.

Top KPIs for performance management include employee retention, morale and productivity (such as number of projects completed or products sold). Establish baseline data prior to implementing the new system and continue to track as additional performance management processes are put into play.

What Are the Hiccups to New Implementation?

A variety of roadblocks can stand in the way of effective performance management implementation. These must be addressed early on to ensure that employees fully buy into the performance management process. Key concerns worth addressing include:

Guiding Those Resistant to Change

From executives to employees, a variety of stakeholders may express reluctance to adopt a performance management mindset. Those who have grown comfortable with the status quo may prove especially difficult to convince. These hesitant individuals will require extra motivation, including an emphasis on their ability to chart their own path through personal goal-setting — or, if nothing else, a reminder of the extrinsic rewards that await successful employees.

Addressing the Difference Between Old and New Systems

Sometimes, resistance to change is valid; the new system may have hiccups in implementation, especially technologically speaking. A streamlined, well-planned rollout is crucial, but it can also be helpful to highlight and explain the differences between the previous system and the new setup.

Employees appreciate predictable processes and may be more open to change if differences between old and new systems are adequately explained and seem easy to navigate.

Align With Company Culture

Both personal goals and organizational objectives must align with the overarching company culture. This is often easier said than done.

When performance management strategies and messaging reflect top values, employees are more likely to follow through with aligned solutions of their own. Don’t neglect the opportunity to also support this culture through performance management, as goal setting and assessment processes provide a myriad of chances to discuss and promote core values.

Four Best Practices to Keep in Mind

If all this seems overwhelming, don’t worry; while there’s a lot of upfront work involved in implementing a new performance management system, ongoing maintenance can be surprisingly streamlined. Follow these best practices to ensure that the performance management process runs as smoothly as possible:

1. Be Transparent and Fair

Transparency is vital to the success of any performance management system. While this is supplied, to some point, by helping employees set individual goals, it must also be abundantly clear how these relate to organizational objectives and what will happen if employees do or do not meet their goals. Fairness is also crucial, particularly as employees pursue varied goals and receive different feedback along the way.

2. Encourage Employee Participation

Employees will not feel invested in performance management systems unless they also feel empowered to carve their own paths. Yes, they will need guidance, but they can also play a central role in creating and pursuing goals that align with both the overarching company culture and the previously set organizational objectives. Get them involved not only in setting their own goals but also, in assessing their performance along the way.

3. Allow Constant Feedback

As you encounter early hiccups in the performance management process, encourage employees to share feedback on what keeps them motivated and what they find frustrating or discouraging. This feedback can then be used to improve processes for future goal-setting initiatives and performance management cycles.

4. Integrate With HR

Silos between departments must be avoided. Human resources, in particular, should be built into the process, especially where rewards are concerned. HR is responsible for performance data and can therefore provide valuable insight into the successes or failures of the performance management system.

By helping to link many moving parts, HR can play a valuable role in verifying receivables for performance management while ensuring that these systems continually facilitate progress among employees and entire organizations.

SJVC’s  Business Office Administration Degree Online

Do you have big plans for boosting organizational and individual outcomes through performance management? San Joaquin Valley College provides the opportunity to level up your career as you also make your mark in an office environment. Our Business Office Administration program can empower you to implement exciting workplace initiatives.

Whether you pursue your Certificate of Completion or your Associate of Science Degree, you will emerge with a variety of administrative and soft skills that can give you an edge in your career and greater confidence on a personal level. Reach out today to learn more.


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