Performance Management – It’s More Than An Annual Review

Ongoing Feedback Helps Develop Better Employees and a Better Workplace

July 10, 2018

Here’s what Performance Management should be:

  • Treating employees with respect
  • Regularly communicating with employees
  • Trusting employees to deliver on the job
  • Monitoring an employee’s performance
  • Helping plan an employee’s goals and objectives
  • Providing continuous feedback
  • Offering coaching to help employees improve
  • Regularly reviewing employee performance

Here’s what Performance Management should not be (and most often is):

  • Annual performance review

Performance appraisals need to be ongoing, not just once a year. Why? Because timely feedback is appreciated by employees. Ongoing reviews help spotlight good work and correct poor performance. And it helps management more accurately assess the talent.

Performance appraisal should be timely, specific, and appreciative. And it should be a two-way street, so be open to receiving feedback.

After all:

  • The employee provides performance, which brings results. They put in their time, effort and ideas. Also, commitment and loyalty, leadership, innovation, and an overall investment in the company. That brings risks and demands sacrifice.
  • The employer offers a form of security, safety, training, recognition, promotion and/or growth, benefits – and income – plus a certain amount of wellbeing.

The best organizations begin from the premise that employees play an important role in the success of the company, and they’re treated accordingly. Performance management is about demonstrating that you’re willing to invest in employees – and not simply with money, but also with time, energy and effort.

What does that investment look like?

  • Meet with employees often
  • Ask questions (and actually listen)
  • Make sure they understand their duties
  • Ensure everyone’s expectations are clear
  • Set clear goals
  • Remove all possible barriers to success and discuss career development
  • Make sure they feel they have opportunities for growth

Investing in employees helps to create a work environment where people want to do their jobs. They choose to work hard. They’re engaged. Companies are always telling their employees things such as “bring your whole self to work”, but then we need to demonstrate that we care about the whole employee – not just their work self, but the integrated work/life self as well.

Ask each employee:

  • their interests outside of work
  • what excites them about their job
  • what parts of their job are disengaging
  • how they feel the organization views employees

Make sure to give employees clear expectations of their job duties.

What about coaching?

The goal of performance coaching is not to make the employee feel bad, nor is it provided to show how much the HR professional or manager knows. The goal of coaching is to work with the employee to solve performance problems and to improve the work of the employee, the team and the department. 

Managers that place emphasis on employees' strengths – and help them build those strengths rather than focusing on weaknesses – will have employees with greater levels of engagement, well-being, team productivity and profitability. 

  • Regular coaching brings performance issues to an employee's attention when they are minor.
  • Show confidence in the employee's ability and willingness to solve the problem. 
  • Describe the performance problem to the employee. Focus on the problem or behavior that needs improvement, not on the person.
  • Determine whether issues exist that limit the employee's ability to perform the task or accomplish the objectives. Four common barriers are time, training, tools and temperament. Determine how to remove these barriers. 
  • Discuss potential solutions to the problem or improvement actions to take. Ask the employee for ideas on how to correct the problem, or prevent it from happening again. With a high performing employee, talk about continuous improvement.
  • Agree on a written action plan that lists what the employee, the manager, and possibly, the HR professional, will do to correct the problem or improve the situation.       
  • Set a date and time for follow-up. Determine if a critical feedback path is needed, so the manager knows how the employee is progressing.

How does discipline fit into this?

There can be issues with performance management that require you to discipline or even terminate someone. But if there has been open and honest communication, and if the employee has received regular feedback and feels valued, they are more likely to be committed to the success of the organization – and less likely to need discipline or termination.

“Progressive discipline” can help correct employee performance or problems. It also helps us remedy situations, enforce the rules, and improve morale.

How are you going to have a tough conversation?

  1. Be calm. You’ll be better at handling tough conversations when they arise.
  2. Be mindful of your words, tone and pace of the conversation. By slowing down it will help you find the right words and it signals that you’re listening.
  3. Be constructive. Offer suggestions, other solutions and alternatives.

When it comes to discipline:


  • Be as calm as possible
  • Slow down the pace of the conversation — it helps you find the right words and it signals to your counterpart that you’re listening
  • Find ways to be constructive by suggesting other solutions or alternatives
  • Document. Document. Document


  • Label your news as a “difficult conversation.” Frame it in a positive or neutral light
  • Write a script for how you want the discussion to go. Be open and flexible (but make notes if you need to)
  • Ignore the other person’s point of view

The goal is to create employees that don’t need reviews.

If we discover what about the job excites the employee, which parts are actually disengaging, how he or she feels about the organization and the way it treats employees, and give each employee a clear expectation of his or her role and their duties, we are helping to create an employee that doesn’t necessarily need to be reviewed at the end of each year. You’ll know how he or she is doing. 

So, provide timely, consistent feedback; recognize good work; correct inadequate performance before it becomes a problem; regularly assess talent; keep the lines to communication open; and make sure to communicate clearly.

Performance management. It’s not just for the end of the year anymore.

For assistance or advice on performance management issues, contact your local Marsh & McLennan Agency Human Resource consultant for help.



This document is not intended to be taken as advice regarding any individual situation and should not be relied upon as such. Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC shall have no obligation to update this publication and shall have no liability to you or any other party arising out of this publication or any matter contained herein. Any statements concerning actuarial, tax, accounting or legal matters are based solely on our experience as consultants and are not to be relied upon as actuarial, accounting, tax or legal advice, for which you should consult your own professional advisors. Any modeling analytics or projections are subject to inherent uncertainty and the analysis could be materially affective if any underlying assumptions, conditions, information or factors are inaccurate or incomplete or should change.

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