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What Is The Performance Management Cycle? A Step By Step Guide! – 2024

Performance management cycle

The performance management cycle is a systematic series of steps that help ensure employees’ performance contributes positively to the business’s overall goals and objectives. It is a performance management model that allows organizations to achieve their goals effectively. Following a simple 4-step process, the performance management cycle aligns individual performance with the company’s direction, ensuring everyone is not just rowing, but rowing in the same direction.

The cycle typically unfolds in four stages: Planning, Monitoring, Reviewing, and Rewarding. Each stage has its own significance, and together, they create a holistic approach to managing and enhancing performance.

That being said, one of the biggest mistakes a leader can make with the performance management cycle is to view it as a linear process. It’s not just about annual reviews or filling out forms; it’s a continuous process that focuses on growth, feedback, and recognizing achievements.

n the following sections, we’ll break down each stage of this cycle, giving you the insights and tools you need to implement it effectively in your own workspace. Whether you’re looking to revamp your current performance management system or starting from scratch, understanding the performance management cycle is your first step towards fostering a high-performance culture.

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The Performance Management Cycle: Stage-by-stage

We can’t give you the definition of the performance management cycle without giving you tips on how you can manage each and every step of it. As we elaborate on each stage of the performance management cycle, we will be showing you how you can use performance management software to manage each stage effectively.

While there are plenty of performance management tools that can help you in this process, the tool we will be covering is Teamflect, a software solution designed specifically to be a part of Microsoft Teams, and it is the highest-rated option in the Microsoft Teams ecosystem. So without further ado, let’s dive right in.

Step 1: Planning

Every great performance management cycle starts with goal setting and overall planning for the review period. This includes setting goals at organizational, departmental, and individual levels, determining key performance metrics, and of course, allocating resources to make sure your team is ready for the review period.

Goal Setting: This is the cornerstone of the performance management cycle. Here, objectives are established for individuals and teams, aligning with the broader goals of the organization. These goals should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

Expectation Clarification: Employees must understand what is expected of them. This includes not just the “what” but the “how” – the behaviors and values that the organization cherishes. Before the review period starts, the metrics across which they will be evaluated should be clear and established.

Resource Identification: Part of planning is ensuring that employees have the necessary tools, training, and support to achieve their goals. This sets the stage for success from the outset.

How to set goals inside Microsoft Teams

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To set goals at any level inside Microsoft Teams, all you have to do is integrate Teamflect and access the goals module. There you can customize each and every aspect of a goal to make sure it fits the SMART criteria.

Whether you are setting an individual, departmental, team, or company goal, you can input custom goal measurement criteria as well as create related and parent goals for a cascading structure.

Step 2: Monitoring

The performance management cycle should never be a series of linear steps. It includes continuous performance management. That means, once you set your goals, you need to be checking in with your goal owners on a regular basis through meetings and offer feedback where necessary.

The monitoring stage is also where leaders address any potential challenges and roadblocks that may arise.

Progress Tracking: Regular check-ins are essential to monitor employee progress towards goals. This isn’t about micromanagement, but about providing support and adjusting strategies as needed.

Feedback Provision: Continuous feedback is a key element of this stage. It helps in identifying areas of improvement and acknowledging achievements, keeping employees motivated and on track.

Adjustments: Monitoring allows for timely adjustments to goals or methods, adapting to any changes in the organization or market conditions.

Monitoring goals inside Microsoft Teams

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Having regular check-in meetings is an absolute must throughout the performance management cycle if you want to make sure your team’s goals stay on track. These meetings will keep your team engaged and your goals visible.

To make sure you are achieving maximum productivity, engagement, and visibility in your meetings, you can use Teamflect’s comprehensive meeting agendas, as well as other meeting features. You can view the goal progress of each meeting participant, create tasks on the spot that are aligned to those goals, and recognize those on track.

Stage 3: Reviewing

The end of a performance management cycle is marked with a performance review. While the optimal performance review frequency changes from one company to the other, having anywhere between two to four performance reviews per year can be recommended.

Performance Evaluation: In this stage, employees’ performance is assessed against the set goals. This evaluation should be objective, fair, and based on the criteria established during the planning stage. As employees are going into their reviews they should know just what exactly is expected of them.

Documentation: Keeping a record of performance assessments is important for transparency and for future reference in career development discussions. If you have a strong HR analytics tool you can analyze review results effectively.

Talent Development: Each performance review you conduct should have the aim of developing your talent at its heart. You can achieve this through creating employee development plans or other succession planning methodologies such as the 9-box talent grid.

Conducting digitized performance reviews

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There is a reason performance reviews get a bad reputation. That reason is the fact that they are often executed in a manual and clunky way. That should have no place in your performance cycle. While Excel or Word performance review templates are a common practice, the best way to end your performance management cycle is through digitizing your reviews.

You can conduct entire performance reviews inside Microsoft Teams, using Teamflect’s customizable review templates. You can either pick from an extensive library of review templates or create your own with ease.

You can integrate employee development plans, and the 9-box grid into your reviews to focus on growth and succession planning. Once your reviews are complete, you can analyze results through a dynamic analytics dashboard.

Stage 4: Rewarding

While “Rewarding” is the fourth step in the traditional definition of the performance management cycle, leaders shouldn’t make the mistake of waiting until the end of the review period to recognize and reward their team. Celebrating success and regularly recognizing high-performers should be something practiced throughout the review period.

Recognition: Acknowledging and rewarding high performance is crucial. This can be in the form of bonuses, promotions, or public recognition.

Motivation Enhancement: Rewards serve as a motivational tool, not just for the rewarded employee but also for their peers.

Alignment with Organizational Goals: Effective rewarding aligns individual achievements with organizational objectives, reinforcing the importance of contributing to the bigger picture.

Implementing rewards and recognition in Microsoft Teams

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If you want to implement an employee rewards and recognition program over Microsoft Teams, you can take advantage of Teamflect’s recognitions module with customizable recognition badges, a real-time recognition feed, and leaderboards you can toggle on and off.

Manage performance inside Microsoft Teams
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Challenges in the performance management cycle

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While the performance management cycle is a powerful tool for aligning individual performance with organizational goals, it’s not without its challenges. Understanding these hurdles is key to implementing an effective performance management system.

1. Setting Realistic Goals

Challenge: Often, managers set overly ambitious goals without considering realistic timelines or resource constraints. This in turn results in employee burnout and disengagement.

Solution: Involve employees in the goal-setting process. This way you will be ensuring that goals are challenging yet achievable, and align with both organizational objectives and individual capabilities.

2. Consistent and Fair Evaluation

Challenge: Bias in performance evaluations can lead to unfair assessments, affecting employee morale and trust in the system.

Solution: Implement standardized evaluation criteria and train managers on objective assessment techniques. Regular calibration meetings can also help ensure consistency across different evaluators.

3. Effective Communication

Challenge: Poor communication regarding expectations and feedback leads to confusion and misalignment.

Solution: Foster a culture of open and continuous communication. Encourage managers to provide regular, constructive feedback, not just during formal review periods.

4. Maintaining Employee Engagement

Challenge: Keeping employees engaged and motivated throughout the performance management process can be difficult, especially if they feel the process is cumbersome or lacks transparency.

Solution: Simplify and streamline the performance management process. Use technology where appropriate, and ensure the process is transparent and understood by all employees.

5. Addressing Poor Performance

Challenge: Dealing with underperformance is often a sensitive issue, and if not handled correctly, will have an adverse effect on overall morale and productivity.

Solution: Approach underperformance with a developmental mindset. Provide clear, actionable feedback and support, including training or mentoring, to help employees improve.

6. Adapting to Change

Challenge: Rapid changes in the business environment can render set goals irrelevant, causing frustration and disengagement.

Solution: Build flexibility into the performance management process. Be prepared to adjust goals and strategies in response to significant changes in the business environment.

Real-world cases where the performance management cycle

When it comes to understanding the practical implications and success of the performance management cycle, there’s nothing quite like real-world examples. While there is no possible way to understand everything that goes on through an organization’s performance management cycle, the examples here represent HR initiatives and decisions made throughout each stage that had positive results.

1. Google’s OKRs

Context: Google, known for its innovative practices, uses OKRs to set and communicate goals company-wide.

Implementation: At Google, each employee sets their OKRs quarterly, and these are aligned with the company’s goals. The key results are measurable and help in tracking progress.

Outcome: This approach has led to remarkable clarity and alignment in the organization. According to a study by Delloite, 91% of companies that have effective performance management systems link employees’ performance goals to business priorities, similar to Google’s approach.

2. Adobe’s Continuous Performance Management

Context: Adobe transformed its performance management process to emphasize continuous development and eliminate annual reviews.

Implementation: They introduced a “Check-In” system with clear expectations, regular feedback, and no ratings.

Outcome: As a result, Adobe saw a 30% reduction in voluntary turnover. Furthermore, 78% of employees reported their performance review conversations as effective, according to Adobe’s internal HR statistics.

3. Deloitte’s Redesign of Performance Management

Context: Deloitte revamped its performance management system to focus more on future development rather than ratings based on past performance.

Implementation: The new system is streamlined, focusing on frequent, future-oriented conversations between employees and managers.

Outcome: Deloitte reported a significant improvement in employee engagement and a reduction in the time spent by managers on performance management by about 2 million hours a year.

Written by Emre Ok

Emre is a content writer at Teamflect who aims to share fun and unique insight into the world of performance management.

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