Performance Management top tips from Cirrus

Top tips for performance management

The majority of organisations have agreed on what best practice in performance management looks like for a very long time. Most support the concept of a more holistic approach, but many have struggled to move on from entrenched systems and to genuinely change their methods.  Based on our recent Cirrus research, Redefining Performance Management, we have make a few recommendations that we hope will benefit most.

1. Be responsive not rigid

Our recent Cirrus research found widespread dissatisfaction with the traditional, bureaucratic, box-ticking approach to performance management. Many organisations find that a more flexible approach, based around regular performance conversations, is leading to better results.

2. Make it work for what your business needs

Define a clear strategy for performance management that is aligned with your business strategy, your brand, and the culture you want to build.

3. Get your senior leaders on board

Senior leaders are the ultimate role models in your organisation. If managers and employees are convinced of their commitment to performance management, they are more likely to get on board too. Encourage senior leaders to engage in performance management conversations and encourage them to take part in any workshops and roadshows that help to involve others.

4. Make it the responsibility of the business, not just HR

HR can support managers across the business to become more effective at managing performance, but any new approach to performance management will only really take hold if ownership and responsibility for it is shared across the business.

5. Change perceptions

Changing perceptions of performance management is one of the fundamental challenges organisations face when altering their approach. Communicate your purpose, show people what they’ve got to gain, listen to their feedback, and act on it.

6. Develop your leaders to have great conversations

Line manager capability can make or break any performance management system. Now that we are seeing a widespread desire to move away from rigid systems towards continual performance management conversations, the ability of line managers to coach others and help them agree and achieve individual goals in line with organisational objectives is increasingly important. Line managers need to develop the capability to give and receive regular feedback and carry out (sometimes difficult) conversations with a focus on positive outcomes.

7. Give people the tools to do it well

Practical, engaging toolkits can assist managers and employees as they prepare for performance management conversations. Pointers to help identify career objectives and sources of support help structure discussion.

8. Align performance with behaviour

Behavioural frameworks can provide clarity for employees and managers. Traditional performance management was always more about hard targets. Today’s performance management conversations are often more focused on the values and behaviours that lead to more sustainable success.

9. Test and learn

Changes to performance management can be tried and tested in one part of your organisation before being rolled out. Evaluate your approach and draw on feedback from employees and managers to make tweaks and improvements.

10. Keep it simple

Designing an approach that focuses on what really matters and provides a clear, simple and engaging approach will have a much greater chance of success. Overly complicated systems tend to cause the most dissatisfaction with employees and managers and lead to people just finding ‘shortcuts’ around the system.


If you’d like to know more, we’d love to talk to you. Please get in touch any time.

Back to articles