Managing Smart: Performance Management

Thursday, July 16, 2020 

A Message from Trisha Whitmire, Assistant Director, Equal Opportunity

The start of the new fiscal year brings up memories and reminders of our annual Check-In. This year, however, things look a bit different. 

Normally, when the Check-In process begins employees and supervisors sit down together and plan goals for the upcoming year. We would usually have a good idea of what the year ahead would look like, but right now we are in a state of uncertainty. As many of us remain remote and unclear as to what lies ahead, it’s a bit more difficult to not only plan for the future, but to also manage the present.

The Check-In process provides a structured evaluation of an employee’s performance and development and is one of many tools to manage that performance. However, performance management is not limited to the formality of the Check-In process.

Performance management is in itself a process, a process that is continuous and involves communication and feedback. Managing employees’ performance, including productivity, in a remote environment can be more challenging. Opportunities for casual inquiries about a project or recognition for a job well done are not as readily available. Now, meetings are often more structured and scheduled in advance. Instead of popping by someone’s workspace, now you have to schedule a virtual meeting. But, regardless of the communication tools used, the goals remain the same.

The foundation of performance management is communication. Communicating with employees about their performance, whether positive or constructive, is imperative for success. Employees need to be aware of departmental goals and your expectations as a supervisor, and the best way to make them aware of these goals and expectations is to hear them directly from you.

In order for employees to fully understand what is expected of them and how they are progressing in their work, feedback should be ongoing and should include the areas in which they are thriving and the areas where they can improve. Consistent feedback allows for recognition of great work and for employees to be aware of those situations when they are or are not meeting your expectations. When feedback is given regularly, employees will not be surprised when praise or documentation of concern arises during a formal process such as the Check-In or a disciplinary action.

Regardless of whether you are communicating with employees face-to-face, over the phone or through a video call, the messaging should be about the same. When performance management meetings are held regularly, employees are always aware of how they are performing and what their future goals and challenges will be. This allows you to not only keep employees aware of their performance, but allows employees to take ownership of their own success.

When communicating with employees in order to manage their performance, planning the discussion can greatly improve how feedback is communicated. Prior to a meeting, consider questions such as “What opportunities exist for continued development?” or “What continued training is needed?” Training and developmental opportunities can benefit employees regardless of whether the feedback you provide is positive or constructive.

Before meeting, also consider ways you can celebrate successes. Reflect on the employees’ strengths and how you can recognize the areas in which the employee has excelled. Also, think about areas where employees can improve and align them with training opportunities, if available.

Leave time for the employee to provide you feedback as well, and be open to receiving it. Consider asking the employee what you can stop, start or continue doing that will help them be successful and allow them to think about their answers and to provide the feedback at a later time.

For more information about performance management, join the Supervisor Summer Series session Performance Management on Friday, July 24 or Wednesday, July 29, 2020.

For questions about the Check-In process or managing performance, contact Organizational Development and Human Resources at, or call the HR4U helpline at 407-299-5000, extension HR4U (4748).

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