Well, it is that time of the year when we are all preparing for performance management reviews.

In the last few weeks, the question has been asked about how we move away from conversations about coping with COVID-19 to having conversations about performance. If you are having those discussions with your direct reports, then I am hoping that you are engaging on a regular basis and that you understand some of their challenges from a business and personal perspective.

Why is that both leaders and employees approach this annual calendar event with trepidation, and now even more so with remote working, productivity statistics out of sync and staff morale all over the place – a bit of apprehension perhaps? Is it because our performance management systems are lacking those key components that energise our leaders and employees and drives performance and motivates staff to be the best they can be? Is it because it is scheduled as an annual event?

In fact, it should not be an annual event but a consistent approach to giving and receiving feedback throughout the year with input from leaders, customers and co-workers.

Let me take a step back. We know that Performance Management is a continuous process of improving performance by aligning goals for both teams and individuals to those of the organization. For many organisations, it starts with goal setting or contracting, and it ends with the annual review. What about having conversations to track progress on those goals and see how your staff are coping?

That missing component is called performance coaching and is key to an effective performance management system.

  1. Performance Planning is the first component where the leader and the employee sit down and set goals for the new year. Together they decide on the results they want to achieve which is aligned to the organisation’s strategy.The leader and direct report enter that performance planning knowing that goals are to set to address gaps in knowl¬edge, skills and abil¬i¬ties and any aspirational goals that the direct report has in order to achieve results. All of this in turn interfaces with reward, recognition, corrective action and in some cases difficult conversations.
  2. So, we have completed the planning and the next logical step is to set up the 1:1 session between the leader and the employee which is performance coaching. These should be ongoing conversations inspiring performance. There are a variety of ways to achieve this; scheduled formal sessions or on-the-spot feedback where you as the leader catch your employees doing the right things and praise them for a job well done.The emphasis in the performance coaching is to help people win and accomplish their goals so that when they get to performance review, it really is a review—because leader and direct report have been working together on an ongoing basis throughout the designated performance time period. This is also the ideal opportunity for leaders to seek feedback on themselves.
  3. Finally, we have the performance review which does not need to be difficult, especially if you have been having coaching conversations. This is an evaluation session where ratings are discussed and leader and direct report agree on a rating based on feedback from various sources.

This is just a little taste of performance management processes that can be effective if it is purposefully designed. Would you like to know more? We encourage you to contact us at and one of our dynamic experienced specialists will be in touch.