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A Guide to Performance Management for Managers

Updated: Jul 6

Calculation for Employee Performance in Performance Management for Managers: Clear deliverables + supportive manager x regular feedback = performing employee.
Performance Management for Managers

Performance management is a critical component of effective leadership. It involves not only addressing poor performance but also cultivating a culture that promotes high performance and accountability. As a manager, your role is to guide, support, and develop your team to achieve their best. This guide will delve into the key aspects of performance management, including setting clear performance goals, fostering a culture of feedback, giving and receiving feedback, offering coaching and mentorship, considering disabilities and neurodiversity, providing on-the-job training and shadowing, implementing Performance Improvement Plans (PIPs), conducting regular one-on-one meetings, and leveraging the probation period to address performance issues early on.

Setting Clear Performance Goals (Performance Management for Managers)

The foundation of effective performance management is being clear on your expectation's through setting clear, achievable performance goals. These goals should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Here’s how to implement SMART goals:

  • Specific: Clearly define what is expected. For instance, instead of saying "improve sales," specify "increase sales by 10% in the next quarter."

  • Measurable: Ensure there is a way to track progress. For example, "complete five customer service training sessions by the end of the month."

  • Achievable: Set goals that are challenging yet attainable. This motivates employees without setting them up for failure.

  • Relevant: Align goals with broader organisational objectives. This ensures that individual efforts contribute to the company’s success.

  • Time-bound: Establish deadlines to create a sense of urgency and priority.

Regularly review and adjust these goals as needed to reflect changes in business priorities or to reflect individual capability levels in role and adjust the performance goals to match the required development needs through providing support.

Fostering a Culture of Feedback and Being Human

Creating a workplace culture where real time feedback is regularly given and received is essential for continuous improvement. This culture encourages openness, trust, and proactive development. Importantly, don’t wait until there is large problem to provide feedback. Regular, incremental feedback can prevent issues from escalating and help employees grow consistently and gets them used to receiving constructive feedback. I would recommend a weekly 1:1 check -in meeting as a minimum to review progress.

Remember we are dealing with Human beings and and we need to treat people how we would like to be treated, with respect and dignity.

HR, at its core, is about people. It's about understanding and nurturing the talent that drives our organisations forward. However, as we embrace advanced technologies and automation, we risk diminishing the human aspect of HR. It's time to reflect on the value of the human touch in our HR processes and remember the importance of genuine communication. Here is a useful article about Getting Back to Basics and Rediscovering the Human Side of HR in how we communicate.

  • Regular Check-ins: Schedule frequent one-on-one meetings to discuss progress, challenges, and opportunities for growth.

  • 360-Degree Feedback: Incorporate feedback from peers, subordinates, and other departments to provide a holistic view of an employee’s performance.

  • Anonymous Feedback Channels: Provide avenues for employees to give feedback without fear of repercussions, encouraging honesty and transparency.

Giving and Receiving Feedback (Performance Management for Managers)

Effective feedback is specific, constructive, and delivered in a timely manner. Here’s how to master the art of giving and receiving feedback: The more you provide feedback positive and constructive the more trust and validity will exist between the manager and the employee. Make sure that you are in a private place where other people cant hear your conversation, most people don't like to be told about a mistake in front of others, as it makes them defensive, and they don't like to show weakness or ask for help. Ensure that you listen actively, ask for clarity of understanding and give your full attention when having a conversation.

Giving Feedback

  • Be Specific and Fact based: Focus on specific behaviours and outcomes, not generalities. For example, "Your presentation was clear and engaging, but adding more data could make it even more compelling."

  • Be Constructive: Frame feedback in a way that encourages improvement. Use the "sandwich" method: start with positive feedback, followed by areas for improvement, and end with another positive note.

  • Be Timely: Provide feedback as soon as possible after the observed behaviour. This ensures that the context is fresh and relevant.

  • Include Positive Feedback: Regularly acknowledge and celebrate achievements and good performance. Positive reinforcement motivates and encourages continued excellence.

Receiving Feedback

  • Be Open: Approach feedback with an open mind and a willingness to improve. Avoid becoming defensive.

  • Seek Clarification: If feedback is unclear, ask for examples or suggestions on how to improve.

  • Reflect and Act: Take time to reflect on the feedback and develop an action plan to address it.

Conducting Regular One-on-One Meetings

Regular one-on-one meetings are essential for maintaining open communication, understanding your teams needs, and providing ongoing support. Here’s how to conduct effective one-on-ones:

  • Engage Actively: Ask open-ended questions to understand how your team members are doing. Questions like "How are you?" and "How are you getting on?" can open up meaningful conversations.

  • Identify Support Needs: Ask "What support do you need from me?" to ensure that you are providing the necessary resources and assistance for their success.

  • Follow Up: Regularly follow up on previous discussions to show that you are committed to their development and well-being.

  • Create a Safe Space: Ensure these meetings are a safe space for employees to voice their concerns, ideas, and feedback.

Leveraging the Probation Period

The probation period is a key time to address any performance issues early on. This period provides an opportunity to set clear expectations and provide initial feedback to new employees.

  • Set Clear Expectations: From the start, ensure new employees understand their roles, responsibilities, and performance expectations.

  • Frequent Check-ins: Conduct regular check-ins during the probation period to monitor progress and address any issues promptly.

  • Provide Feedback and Support: Give constructive feedback and offer support to help new employees adjust and succeed in their roles.

  • Evaluate Performance: At the end of the probation period, evaluate the employee’s performance and determine if they are meeting expectations.

If, after genuinely trying to help someone perform in their role, through giving them support, feedback and training and clear reasonable expectation don't be afraid use the probation period to terminate someone who is not able to do the role. Keep in mind that not everyone is suited for every role and environment. It's beneficial to consult with your HR team, who can assist you throughout this process.

Considering Disabilities and Neurodiversity

Effective performance management must be inclusive and considerate of all employees, including those with disabilities and neurodiverse conditions. Here’s how to ensure inclusivity:

  • Understand Individual Needs: Take the time to understand the specific needs and accommodations required for each employee.

  • Provide Reasonable Adjustments: Ensure the workplace is accessible and supportive, providing necessary tools and adjustments.

  • Foster an Inclusive Culture: Promote awareness and understanding of disabilities and neurodiversity within the team.

  • Tailor Feedback and Support: Adapt your feedback and support approaches to be sensitive to individual preferences and requirements.

Offering Coaching, Mentorship, and Support

Coaching and mentorship are powerful tools for developing your team’s skills and capabilities. Here’s how to offer effective support:

  • Identify Strengths and Weaknesses: Understand each team member’s strengths and areas for improvement. Use this knowledge to tailor your coaching approach.

  • Set Development Plans: Work with employees to create individual development plans that align with their career goals and organisational needs.

  • Provide Resources: Offer access to training, workshops, and other learning opportunities. Encourage self-directed learning and continuous development.

  • Be Available: Make yourself available for regular coaching sessions and be approachable for ad-hoc support and guidance.

  • On-the-Job Training and Shadowing: Facilitate hands-on learning by providing opportunities for employees to shadow experienced colleagues and participate in practical training sessions.

Implementing Performance Improvement Plans (PIPs)

When an employee’s performance falls below expectations, a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) can help them get back on track. Here’s how to implement a PIP effectively:

  • Identify the Issues: Clearly outline the specific performance issues that need to be addressed.

  • Set Clear Objectives: Define what success looks like and set measurable objectives for improvement.

  • Provide Support: Offer the necessary resources, training, and support to help the employee succeed.

  • Monitor Progress: Regularly review the employee’s progress and provide ongoing feedback.

  • Review and Conclude: At the end of the PIP period, evaluate whether the employee has met the objectives. If not, discuss next steps, which could include further support or considering other option. If, despite undergoing a performance improvement process, if an individual still fails to improve or meet the required standards, you can follow your company's capability or disciplinary procedures, which may include formal disciplinary actions and could ultimately lead to dismissal. Here is a useful link to the ACAS website on understanding the Conduct and capability procedures when managing performance - Acas.

Conclusion (Performance Management for Managers)

Effective performance management requires clear goal-setting, a culture of feedback, skilled delivery and reception of feedback, robust coaching and mentorship, inclusivity for disabilities and neurodiversity, hands-on training and shadowing, leveraging the probation period, structured improvement plans, and regular one-on-one meetings. By focusing on these areas, you can create an environment where your team members thrive, leading to greater organisational success and personal satisfaction.

Remember, the way you manage and support your team reflects your leadership style and significantly impacts your team’s performance and morale. Strive to be the kind of manager you would want to have: supportive, clear, and committed to your team’s growth and success. Remember, communicating and providing regular feedback is essential, as we all learn at different speeds and have unique strengths that need to be nurtured.

If you need HR support on this topic, please reach out to Progressive HR Solutions via email at

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