Newer perspectives on employee performance and productivity are designed to facilitate frequent conversations between employees, managers, and other stakeholders about growth and development. 

For HR leaders, ensuring that performance management systems are applied efficiently means strategizing, designing, training, implementing, monitoring, and reviewing the system and its processes. One way to streamline this huge task is by using online performance management platforms and templates. 

Performance management groundwork

Knowing which templates to use will depend on your performance management framework, and before knowing which framework to adopt, organizations need to first lay the basic foundations.

1. Align performance management system with organizational strategy 

Before setting any system in motion, first take a look at how things are. What does the organization want to achieve? What is the organization’s core brand identity? What are the successes? What are the challenges?

The purpose, values, and goals of the entire organization must inform departmental and individual targets, so answering these questions is vital. With alignment between departments and strategy cascading from an organization’s leadership, each time that a goal is achieved, everyone moves forward. 

2. Set organizational standards, criteria, and indicators 

Transparent management is vital to the credibility of the performance management process and further helps employees stay on track. Picking a system and sticking to it across all departments and roles is essential to maintaining transparency and efficiency. 

Additionally, setting clear standards and indicators that correspond with organizational goals allows every individual to understand their role and unique contribution. 

3. Choose a performance management framework 

There are a number of performance management frameworks to choose from depending on what you are trying to accomplish, what roles are included in the system, and what industry you are in. 

Most of these systems have been in place for decades and they employ a variety of evaluation methods, so you’ll likely find something that suits your organization’s needs. However, these can also be tweaked and applied in whatever way serves you best.

4. Implement performance management templates

Regardless of the framework or system, performance management only works if it’s applied in a consistent and continuous manner. Using templates streamlines the performance management process and ensures that criteria are being applied evenly. 

Digital templates provide a comprehensive performance management solution that not only empowers managers and employees to communicate clearly, but also provides an integrated way to track progress and analyze data in real-time. 

By compiling responses to surveys, performance appraisals, and other digital documentation, managers can get a fuller picture of an employee’s performance and companies can maintain cross-organizational alignment. 

The performance management calendar

Performance management consists of three main stages: planning, check in, and review. 

Each of these milestones is administered in coordination with an overarching performance management system founded on a company’s core values. At every stage, every employee and department is subject to the same process and are evaluated according to shared high level goals. 

These stages can take place quarterly, bi annually, or at any interval that contributes to seamless performance management. 

1. Planning

Performance management planning involves setting individual goals in the context of departmental and organizational goals. Individual deliverables should be designed according to the SMART acronym: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound.

Each employee will be evaluated against these personal targets and deliverables, so it’s important to clarify and collaborate with the individual to ensure that everyone is on the same page. 

2. Check in

Annual reviews aren’t effective at engaging and motivating employees. Instead, strive for regular check ins to resolve completed objectives and address any pain points. 

This is an opportunity to move the target if the employee is performing beyond expectation or to reevaluate if the employee is struggling. Communication is the key here, so create ample opportunities for employees and managers to revisit goals and make adjustments as needed, including offering coaching or support.

3. Review

Regular check ins culminate in a periodic review, or performance appraisal. This shouldn’t be a surprise if the employee and manager have been communicating along the way. Reviews evaluate an employee’s job performance and overall contribution to the company according to set criteria. 

The focus should be on employee development, not on criticism, and should provide ample opportunity for feedback. 

Custom templates for clarity and data

The templates your organization uses for performance management will be determined by the evaluation method chosen and stage, but some features will remain consistent. Separate templates should be created for planning, check in, and review, but all will include the following:

  • Corporate goals
  • Department objectives
  • Individual initiatives
  • Evaluation criteria and methods (key performance indicators) 
  • A section for employee feedback
  • Notes for next steps

Beyond these basics, the templates will be structured according to the chosen method of evaluation. Here are some common ones:

  • Management by Objective (MBO)
  • Critical incident method
  • Checklist method
  • 360-degree performance appraisal
  • Competency-based
  • Graphic rating scale (GRS) appraisals

These methods use a variety of rating scales, for example Likert scales, binary, or gradation. 

Performance management templates can also be used for employee self-assessment. Before walking into a performance check in or review, employees should be given the opportunity to self-assess their performance—regardless of the performance management system or evaluation method. This is a chance for employees to consider their strengths and weaknesses and gain insight into how they can improve. 

An additional application of online performance management systems is administer useful anonymous surveys. For example, in 360-degree performance appraisals, information is collected about individual performance from supervisors, colleagues, or employees they manage. With digital surveys, it’s easy to get feedback from a range of sources and streamline performance management. 

Digital performance management templates and the hybrid workplace

Technology enables us to stay connected and maintain operational continuity even in remote or hybrid workplaces. Which is great considering so many more of us are working from home at least part of the time. 

This makes having the right tech deck vital to motivating employees and managing performance. Digital performance management templates can keep the hybrid workplace connected and collaborative, across departments and social distance. 

Use performance management templates to plan out, check in, and review performance with clearly defined targets, tasks, and deadlines. No matter where your people are.

Why you should be working with performance management templates - WhatsApp-Image-2019-07-22-at-20.13.33-e1584029638354.jpeg

From Shayna Hodkin

Shayna lives in south Tel Aviv with two dogs and a lot of plants. She writes poems and reads tarot.