DEFINITION of 'Performance Management'

Performance management is the supervision and oversight of employees, departments, and organizations with the objective of seeing that milestones and objectives are reached in an efficient and effective manner. This niche aspect of overall management involves defining what effective performance looks like, as well as developing the tools and procedures necessary to measure performance.

BREAKING DOWN 'Performance Management'

Performance management includes the way managers evaluate employees, how employees evaluate their managers and fellow employees, and how individual workers evaluate themselves. The ultimate goal of performance management is to improve the quality of work in the most efficient manner possible.

By outlining the current standing of an employees work, structuring objectives and expectations, and gauging the time and effort expended to achieve said goals, managers can make adjustments or recommend new courses of action to better accommodate and achieve their intended goals. For example, sales staff may be given target revenue volumes they are expected to reach within a set amount of time. How they go about pursuing those targets may be guided by suggestions and directives given by their supervisors to produce the most desirable outcomes.

Performance management relies on the analysis of how an organization’s employees have historically accomplished tasks in an effort to improve future performance. Effective managers seek to provide feedback to and receive feedback from employees continuously, rather than relying on occasional appraisals. This allows a manager to determine what motivates employees to work hard, such as potential effects on salary, evaluate what obstacles are making it difficult for employees to effectively do their jobs, and make adjustments to employee workloads as necessary.

How Leadership Factors into Performance Management

In some organizations, managers are expected to provide detailed instructions outlining how employees are to approach a specific task. This type of management approach is referred to as high power distance. The opposite approach allows employees to act more independently in achieving a stated goal. Managers must recognize which approach works best according to the situation and organizational culture.

Globalization has presented companies with new opportunities for growth but has also increased the complexities of managing the performance of a workforce coming from different cultures. Managers have to ensure that employees are governed according to a company’s policies but must also ensure that cultural norms are taken into account. Managers must understand what drives employees to work effectively. While monetary compensation may be considered important in some cultures, others may consider empathy toward the employee’s personal and familial well being to be a greater motivator.

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