Performance Management Cycle and Practice Community

Introduction

Organizational performance is mainly influenced by the commitment and contributions made by employees to achieve their work targets. Thus, companies use the performance management cycle (PMC) to realize the full potential of their workforce. The performance management cycle is an annual process through which companies set and help their employees to achieve meaningful goals (OPM, 2014).

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The objective of the PMC is to promote staff development and job satisfaction in a manner that is consistent with organizational goals. In order to achieve this objective, the performance management cycle must have an inbuilt system that enables employees to identify and correct their weaknesses. This paper will discuss the stages of the performance management cycle and how to evaluate its effectiveness. It will also discuss the roles of line managers in the performance review process, as well as, the elements that are required to build and sustain a community of practice.

Stages of the Performance Management Cycle

Planning

Planning is the first stage of the performance management cycle. It refers to the process of setting performance expectations in terms of the goals that individuals and groups of employees must achieve in order to accomplish organizational objectives (OPM, 2014). Planning also involves determining the metrics for measuring the performance of employees. In this regard, employees should be involved in the planning process so that they can understand the expectations of the company.

Goal setting promotes capability and high performance in three ways. First, goals give employees a sense of direction, which enables them to focus their efforts and behaviors on the achievement of a particular performance outcome (Kenexa, 2014). Second, goals enable employees to regulate their efforts in order to achieve the expected level of performance. For instance, goals that are difficult to achieve will encourage employees to increase their effort in order to perform according to the company’s expectations. Finally, goals promote the culture of persistence and consistency in maintaining high performance among employees.

Goal setting also promotes challenge in several ways. To begin with, it increases the challenge associated with a particular job. Specifically, a challenging goal can transform a monotonous job into an interesting activity(OPM, 2014). Challenging goals provide a sense of purpose, which motivates employees to improve their performance. Goal achievement also challenges employees to attain high levels of performance. Generally, employees experience a sense of increased satisfaction with their jobs whenever they achieve their work targets. As a result, they strive to achieve more challenging goals in order to develop their careers and to receive the rewards provided by the company. Goal achievement improves employees’ self-confidence and willingness to tackle more challenges in the future.

The goals set by the company must be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based. In this regard, the planning process must identify the specific tasks that employees must accomplish. Each task must have clear targets that will be used to measure employees’ performance. In addition, the timeframe for achieving each goal must be clearly defined to enable the employees to plan their work. In the circumstance where employees have to achieve multiple goals, the organization should rank the goals according to their priority.

Monitoring

Monitoring is the process of measuring performance and giving regular feedback to employees concerning their progress towards achieving their goals. Monitoring helps managers to identify and to resolve employees’ problems in time in order to boost performance. Addressing the problems of the marginal performers at this stage can prevent performance from declining to unacceptable levels (Kenexa, 2014). Informing employees about their weaknesses at the monitoring stage serves as a wake-up call.

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Timely feedback should be given to employees so that they can be aware of their progress. Effective feedback should provide information regarding the progress towards the achievement of a specific goal rather than general performance (Kenexa, 2014). Providing feedback in time is also important because it provides opportunities for timely improvement of performance among employees. Additionally, feedback should be provided in a positive manner in order to encourage high performance. Specifically, the feedback should be accurate, factual, relevant, and complete. Moreover, it should reinforce positive behaviors and identify areas that should be improved in the future.

Developing

Developing refers to the process of improving employees’ capacity to achieve high performance. Strategies for staff development include training, improving work processes, mentoring, and assigning challenging responsibilities to employees. Managers must understand the factors that determine the performance of employees in order to develop their capacity. High performance can be achieved if employees have the capacity and commitment to attain their goals.

Capacity refers to the competencies, resources, and opportunities that employees need in order to meet their targets. Competencies encompass the skills, knowledge, and behaviors that lead to high performance. Undoubtedly, high performance can only be achieved if employees have the right skill set. Additionally, they must have the resources and opportunities to utilize their capacity to achieve organizational goals.

Commitment improves when employees agree to execute their duties and to meet or surpass their work targets. In this regard, the management must develop and utilize effective methods of improving employees’ commitment. Staff commitment can be achieved by setting clear goals, involving employees in decision-making processes, and helping employees to fit in the organization.

Rating

Rating refers to the process of measuring employees’ performance based on the goals and metrics set for them at the planning stage. Rating helps in ranking employees according to their performance (Kenexa, 2014). Moreover, rating helps managers to identify the employees who should be rewarded for achieving high-performance standards. Thus, the rating process should be fair to avoid dissatisfaction among employees. Fairness can be achieved if employees are involved in determining the metrics for evaluating their performance.

Rewarding

The last stage of the performance management cycle is to reward the employees. Rewarding is a technique for acknowledging employees’ contributions towards the achievement of organizational goals and objectives. Generally, employees are rewarded according to their performance. Thus, the highest performer receives the best reward and vice versa. The rewards are usually identified during the planning process. The rewards can be financial, intrinsic, or both. The rewards provided by the company should be adequate in order to encourage high performance.

Evaluating the Effectiveness of the PMC

The performance management cycle can be evaluated by considering the following factors. First, an effective PMC should enable the organization to identify clear performance standards (OPM, 2014). This helps in measuring employees’ performance and avoiding ambiguity when providing feedback. Second, an effective PMC should create opportunities for observing employees and providing feedback on their performance.

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The PMC should enable managers to recognize and to reinforce high performance among employees. In this regard, the feedback provided by the managers should lead to substantial improvement in employees’ performance. Third, the effectiveness of the reward system used in the PMC should also be evaluated. The evaluation should focus on the adequacy, relevance, sustainability, and outcomes of the reward system. Finally, the PMC should be evaluated based on its contribution to the achievement of organizational goals. The PMC is considered to be effective if the expected performance outcome is achieved. However, dismal performance will suggest that some or all of the stages of the PMC were flawed.

Purpose and Goals of Line Managers

Line managers are responsible for the following activities in the performance review process. First, line managers are expected to develop trust and strong relationships with employees (GeorgiaTech, 2014). This leads to effective communication that enables line managers to identify employees’ problems and to share information with their juniors concerning organizational goals. In addition, effective communication enables line managers to gain firsthand knowledge concerning each employee’s performance. Undoubtedly, firsthand information concerning employees’ performance enables line managers to make fair evaluation decisions.

Second, line managers participate in the performance review process by setting goals and expectations for each employee. This involves discussing and agreeing with employees on the required performance standards during the planning stage of the PMC. Moreover, the line managers are expected to align the goals set for each employee to those of their departments in order to achieve group targets and the overall objectives of the organization (GeorgiaTech, 2014).

Third, line managers are required to create opportunities for providing feedback to employees throughout the financial year. In this case, the goal of the line manager is to create at least one feedback session in every quarter of the financial year to assess employees’ progress. Moreover, the goals set for the employees can be revised during the feedback sessions in order to improve performance.

Finally, line managers lead the process of creating professional development plans. They collaborate with their juniors to identify training and development needs, as well as, the strategies for improving employees’ skills (GeorgiaTech, 2014). Line managers also provide coaching and mentorship to employees in order to boost their performance.

Critical Review of Line Managers’ Roles

Developing relationships with employees is important because it facilitates cooperation and coordination in the performance review process. However, building trust and relationships depends on the elements of organizational culture such as communication style, power distance, and the values shared by employees. Thus, line managers will not make meaningful contributions in the review process if the organizational culture does not support their initiatives to build relationships with employees (GeorgiaTech, 2014).

Line managers’ ability to set meaningful goals and performance expectations depends on the approach used. Failure is likely to arise in a top-down approach where managers set goals with little or no involvement of the employees. Employees are likely to resist goals that they do not identify with. On the other hand, a bottom-up approach where employees play a major role in setting work targets can limit line managers’ ability to align individual goals to those of their departments. Thus, line managers’ can only be effective if they are able to involve employees at an optimum level in the review process.

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The feedback provided by line managers concerning employees’ performance is helpful only if they are specific, timely, and supportive. In addition, the feedback is important only if employees utilize it to improve their performance (OPM, 2014). Thus, the role of line managers as providers of feedback will lose its meaning if the company fails to provide the resources and opportunities that employees require to improve their performance.

Elements Required to Build and to Sustain a Community of Practice

A community of practice refers to a group of people with shared interests such as sharing knowledge. The three elements that are required for the establishment of a community of practice include the following.

The Domain

A community of practice must have a common domain of interest among the members. The domain of interest defines the overall objectives and goals of the community, as well as, the means of achieving them (Wenger, 2013). It creates a sense of purpose that motivates individuals to remain and to participate in the community. Every member of the community must be committed to the domain of interest and strive to achieve the goals and objectives associated with it. Thus, members of the community must have shared competencies that differentiate them from other groups of people and enable them to achieve the objectives of the community.

The Community

Establishing a community of practice requires the active participation of members in group activities that lead to the achievement of the community’s goals and objectives (Wenger, 2013). This helps in building relationships and trust among the members in order to strengthen the community. Membership in the community must be structured in a manner that eliminates socio-cultural differences. The connections within the community should transcend roles and the members are expected to develop a sense of obligation to each other in order to achieve group success.

Communities of practice should have fluid boundaries that facilitate flexible membership and participation (Wenger, 2013). This will enable the community to recruit the right members and to sustain its operations by allowing the members to participate according to their capabilities. A community of practice is identified by a unifying idea rather than a geographical location or a name. In this regard, the leadership of the community must develop a guiding philosophy to unite the members.

Members of the community should have a shared culture to ensure cohesion and sustained operations. The members should identify and use a common language, values, norms, rules, and beliefs (Wenger, 2013). The importance of a shared culture is that it will facilitate seamless interchangeability and shared understanding among the members. Performance within the community is enhanced by leveraging collective strength and responsibility. Thus, the leadership must develop effective ways of tapping the unique abilities of each member to achieve the goals of the community.

The Practice

The members of the community must be practitioners who are associated with a specific profession such as nursing. This enables them to pool resources such as experiences, tools, and techniques for solving recurrent problems. The members should focus on mutual engagement through regular interactions among themselves (Wenger, 2013). The interactions enable the members to negotiate their practice and to articulate the implications of their actions. The community of practice will be effective if the members are able to negotiate a joint enterprise that promotes coherence. This enables the members to define significance, shape their practice, and develop mutual accountability.

How Teamwork Supports a High-Performance Culture

Teamwork creates a learning environment in which members of the organization get the opportunity to learn about the values of the company from their colleagues. A winning team is characterized by a strong sense of affiliation among its members (Rice & White, 2013). Thus, the members tend to improve their commitment to the team by identifying with its values. Undoubtedly, high commitment within the team helps in developing a culture of high performance.

Moreover, effective interaction enables members of the team to develop trust. Specifically, regular interactions enable the members to learn about each others’ strengths and weaknesses. This enables the members to trust each other and to focus on cooperation in order to achieve the best results. Consequently, team leaders are able to assign tasks to each member according to their abilities.

Setting common goals for the team also helps in promoting a high-performance culture. The team members are likely to improve their efforts towards the achievement of the common goal if the benefits associated with it will be shared equitably among the members (Rice & White, 2013). Furthermore, an effective reward system within the team can motivate the members to improve their commitment and performance. Generally, participation in the team enables members to internalize the values of the organization and to trust each other. This leads to the development of a high-performance culture.

How Communication Supports a High-Performance Culture

Communication promotes organizational values and trust in order to support a high-performance culture in the following ways. To begin with, communication is a powerful tool that enables managers to articulate and develop organizational values (Rice & White, 2013). This can be achieved through various communication channels such as staff surveys and focus group discussions. Managers usually involve as many employees as possible in these discussions in order to improve their understanding of the organization’s values.

Effective communication within the company enables the management and employees to address the problems that they are grappling with. Trust develops within the organization when the communication system enables the employees and the management to engage in honest and meaningful discussions about matters that are important to the organization (Rice & White, 2013).

Communication supports a high-performance culture by enabling managers to shape the beliefs and behaviors that lead to improved productivity. For instance, if the company intends to improve its performance through innovation, managers must talk to employees about the expected change. This not only helps the employees to understand the organization’s expectations but also to support them (Rice & White, 2013). The resulting improvement in employees’ commitment will lead to high performance within the organization.

Conclusion

Performance management helps managers to monitor the progress of employees towards the achievement of organizational goals. This involves completing the tasks associated with the performance management cycle. The stages of the PMC include planning, monitoring, developing, rating, and rewarding. Line managers participate in the performance review process by working with employees to develop goals that must be attained in order to achieve the expected level of performance. Line managers also provide feedback concerning employees’ performance. Moreover, they collaborate with employees to create professional development plans that facilitate high performance. Building and sustaining a community of practice requires three elements namely the domain, community, and practice.

References

GeorgiaTech. (2014). Performance management cycle. Web.

Kenexa. (2014). Making performance management more effective. Web.

OPM. (2014). Performance management: Performance management cycle. Web.

Rice, C & White, B. (2013). Driving long-term engagement through a high-performance culture. Web.

Wenger. E. (2013). Community of practice: A brief introduction. Web.

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