An effective performance management process provides Employers and Employees a forum to communicate their expectations of each other.   This ensures that both parties are aware of any objectives placed upon them and provides support, training and encouragement to achieve those objectives.  In the majority of cases, there should be no surprises with the Employer being aware of the aspirations of the Employee.  A well-documented performance management system should reduce the need for disciplinary meetings, provide factual evidence for promotion or job evaluation and if necessary give objective feedback when using a selection criteria for compulsory redundancy.

Objective Setting

Line Managers embarking on a performance management process should first look at the objectives of the individuals they are managing.  If they are holding one-to-one meetings (Appraisals, Personal Development Plans etc.) with their Staff then it is important that they understand each role and are able to provide ‘SMART” objectives.  By setting SMART objectives, Line Managers can better manage performance based on factual evidence and therefore, be better equipped to understand if objectives are not met for any reason.

Examples of the do’s and don’ts of ‘SMART’ objectives are:






The objective should be clear to understand, well defined and focused.

Reduce short term absence in the Administration team

Improve Absence


It should be easy to determine when the objective will be completed and which methods are used to achieve this

By 5%

By ensuring 100% attendance


Should be realistic, practical dependent upon availability of resources and knowledge

By running at least two training sessions during the year in order to

By running one training session per week


Should relate to the Organisation as a whole bringing about a benefit to its financial and operational environments

Train Supervisors in the use of the absence management procedure including the use of the Occupational Health Service

So Supervisors can deal with absence


Should have clear deadlines expressed

By the end of March 2015

During the year

 The process of objective setting should not be difficult and it is important the Line Manager’s have a maximum of 10 people to set objectives for.  Any more than this will prove time consuming and if practicable, and therefore objective setting should be shared between various Managers if practicable to do so.

Line Managers should agree a manageable set of objectives for each Employee.  If they set too many, the Employee will loose focus, too little and they will be unclear of their role and demotivated.  As a guide, a maximum of 5 objectives should be set depending on the role.  However, this will vary depending upon the complexity of the objective set.

Reviewing Employee Performance

Employee performance should be reviewed at least once a year via a one-to-one meeting.  This should complement any other reviews that the Line Manager has with the Employee during the year.  Although many Managers believe the have an open door policy, a scheduled meeting will provide the Employee with the opportunity to discuss their performance and aspirations with their Line Manager without distractions.  The meeting should be held to improve effectiveness of the role, along with identifying any strengths and weaknesses that the Employee may have.  A good Line Manager will discuss with the Employee how to utilise their strengths and overcome any weaknesses.  An open and honest discussion should also reveal any potential or real problems within the Organisation and improve working practices.

Identifying Training Needs

Prior to any one-to-one meetings taking place the Line Manager should know what skills and behaviours are required by the Employee to carry out their role.  Ideally, each role should have a set of competencies that the Employee should either possess or be working towards.  In some cases, the role may have changed significantly since the Employee started with the Organisation and the one-to-one meeting is a good opportunity for the Line Manager and Employee to agree what is required of the role and if necessary, agree any training that the Employee needs to meet the competencies of the role.

Agreeing Personal Development Plans

Employees have different needs and it is important for Line Managers to understand what these are. Is the individual happy to stay in the role they are doing? Do they need further development in their current role or do they want to consider other roles for which they may require further training and development?  The one-to-one meeting is also an opportunity to discuss whether the employee has any plans to retire or work more flexibly due to a change of circumstances. Provided that the Line Manager uses a consistent approach across the workforce, it is perfectly reasonable to ask the Employee what their plans for the future may be at that time.

Record Keeping

It is important that any one-to-one meetings are recorded in order for the Line Manager to review performance and act on any action points discussed.  It is vital that action points and objectives are dealt with.  The appraisal document or personal development plan should be a useful tool and should not be put in drawer until the day of the next one-to-one meeting.  If actions are followed up regularly, the next one-to-one meeting should be simple to review and objective setting should flow from the previous meeting.

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