Performance Management Do’s and Don’ts

It’s that time of year again when we start planning for our performance management process.

Here are best practices we have found at Kona HR which you can incorporate into your performance management plan.

Forms and Structure

We at Kona have found that many firms spend 90% of their time designing the form and 10 % of their time on management training and process coaching. It is important that, that ratio be flipped for most firms. There are of course performance factors that need to be rated, but it’s also important that the form has a free form process. In short, there are typical attributes that should have a rating 1-5. But the goal setting and achievement of high-level goals in terms of professional development is the most important.

The Annual Cycle

We believe that there should be a short performance discussion monthly with all of your direct reports. This can be less frequent with star performers. This monthly discussion should review important initiatives and tasks. For poor performers there may need to be timelines for specific improvement. We find that with these performance discussions throughout the year, the performance discussion is then more balanced. Without this cycle of meetings appraisals are too focused on recent performance rather than the whole year.

Performance Appraisal Preparation

Direct reports should be given the appraisal form a couple of weeks in advance of the meeting in order for them to do a self-appraisal. Managers are often surprised to see that employees are usually harder on themselves when they complete the self-appraisal. This gives managers A view of how employees see themselves within their organization. Managers should take some time and fill out these forms and prepare for the meeting thoughtfully and thoroughly.

The Performance Meeting

The meeting should be scheduled well in advance. It should be done in a conference room or a site with limited distractions. With the recent resurgence of remote employment, this may need to be done via video conference, but avoid that if at all possible. If you are in an office be sure to sit next to the employee not across, we want to foster communication not hierarchy. It is important that you lay out the goals for the session at the beginning. We have found that specifically salaries or bonuses should never be discussed during this meeting. Let the employee know that any changes will be done within a certain time frame after the meeting. We have found that by doing this the employee focus on the performance not money.

The annual performance meeting should never be disciplinary. Any specific performance issues should be done in monthly meetings. The annual meetings should focus on growth and goals.
The delivery of criticism should focus on the behavior not the person. The balance of discussion should be 60/40 manager/employee.

Performance Meeting Outcome

Employees should leave the meeting with a clear understanding of how they did given their goals from the previous year. They should also have a clear understanding of what their goals are for the future. They should be given an opportunity to articulate their personal development goals. There may be times when the employees disagree with their goal attainment. This is not the place for an argument, you should give the employee an opportunity to respond in writing after the meeting if there is any disagreement.

Other Performance Appraisal Considerations

• Job Change – if there is a job change or significant change in responsibility during the year, make sure to give the new manager all of your monthly meeting notes.

• Short Work Year – if the employee was out for an extended period such as FMLA or disability, it is important that your company has a policy on this in regard to performance appraisal and salary adjustments.

• Military Service – there are very specific rules on how employees are to be treated if they are deployed or out for an extended period. USERRA specifically states that employees are to be treated as if they did not leave if there were “reasonably certain raises” while they were away. Contact us for more guidance on this if you have this situation.




 Performance at this level is clearly unique and far in excess of established expectations. The employee consistently exceeds expectations in the outcomes achieved in work quality, quantity and timeliness. The employee exhibits leadership among peers in all dimensions of the field of work performed.


 Performance at this level often exceeds established expectations and standards for work quality, quantity and timeliness. The employee exhibits mastery of most dimensions of the field of work performed.


 Performance at this level is satisfactory on the established expectations and standards for work quality, quantity and timeliness. The employee competently achieves the requirements of the position.


 Performance at this level is minimally capable and below the level expected employee. Improvement is required in significant dimensions of the job in order to meet the expectations and standards for work quality, quantity and timeliness. The employee performing at this level may be denied merit increases until fully capable performance is demonstrated.


Performance at this level is unacceptable. The employee often fails to achieve basic requirements of the position and has exhibited little or no improvement in job performance. The employee performing at this level should not be continued in this position; or where extenuating circumstances exist, should be retained only upon significant improvements within a fixed period of time to be defined by the Employer.



1a. PLANNING: Develops short and long range plans and goals to meet department objectives consistent with established priorities; sets appropriate priorities of needs and resulting services to be provided; anticipates and prepares for future requirements and devises contingencies; devises realistic plans

1b. BUDGETING AND ECONOMIC MANAGEMENT: Prepares an appropriate budget and subsequently adheres to it; utilizes finances, budgets, facilities, equipment, materials and products to minimize costs; actively practices cost containment.

1c. ORGANIZATION OF WORK: Structures work in order to avoid crisis, promotes productivity, attains cost effectiveness, and delivers work on time. Involved in this process are the tasks of allocating work, delineating responsibilities, scheduling activities, and adequately preparing for meetings and presentations.

1d. COMPLIANCE: Complies with established policies, procedures and directives; conducts department functions in accordance with applicable laws, statutes, and regulations.

1e. PROBLEM SOLVING AND DECISION-MAKING: Identifies problem and acts to rectify them by employing analytical thinking and sound judgment.

1f. EVALUATION AND CONTROL: Practices regular and systematic review of department operations to evaluate progress towards established goals; evaluates strategies employed in seeking those goals; implements remedial measures when necessary.

1g. RISK (LIABILITY) MANAGEMENT: Ensures that liability risk exposures are identified and treated when proposing new programs and services; evaluates and monitors established programs and services to identify areas which need revision due to changes in operation, legislation, policies and procedures; implements changes where needed to facilitate favorable loss experience; manages employee safety program, including appropriate training and corrective action when necessary.


2a. ORAL COMMUNICATION: Effectively communicates orally with individuals and groups, including public presentations; presents ideas in an organized, clear and concise manner, employs tact and discretion; listens well; offers appropriate feedback.

2b. WRITTEN COMMUNICATION: Prepares organized, clear, concise, accurate and informative letters, memos, reports and other documents which effectively fulfill content and timeliness requirements.

2c. COORDINATION/COLLABORATION: Works well with others at various levels; keeps information flowing to the appropriate parties vertically (down as well as up) and horizontally; facilitates communication and problems solving among parties when necessary.

2d. SUPERVISORY CONTROL: Effectively hires, assigns, directs, controls, evaluates performance, counsels and disciplines all other functions necessary or incidental to supervision; practices compliance with employment law guidelines and mandates.

2e. LEADERSHIP: Promotes cooperation and team work among employees; establishes high standards of conduct and job performance for subordinates; maintains open communication channels; delegates work; leads by example.

2f. STAFF APPRAISAL AND DEVELOPMENT: Provides good record of subordinate performance; reviews appraisal information with subordinates; aides subordinates in improving performance on current job; helps subordinates in setting up and implementing development plans and objectives; cross-trains employees; encourages subordinates to participate in training.


3a. EFFORT AND INITIATIVE: Requires little work direction; exhibits persistence an initiative; puts forth a consistent, energetic effort; assumes full and complete responsibility for accomplishment of department functions.

3b. PROFESSIONAL/TECHNICAL COMPETENCE: Realistic knowledge and competence of the field and applies up-to-date technical/professional principles, practices, and standards appropriate to the functions of the department; acts as a resource person upon whom others can draw; professional demeanor maintained on a consistent basis.

3c. INNOVATION: Displays original and novel thought in creative efforts to improve on the status quo.

3d. OBJECTIVITY: Assesses issues, problems and decision situations based on the merits of the case presented; personal loyalties, biases, etc., does not influence department decisions; personnel decisions made on the basis of equal opportunity and objective job-related criteria.

3e. CREDIBILITY: Through successful performance, instills the feeling of trust and dependability.

3f. FLEXIBILITY: Adapts well to change, both internally and externally.


4a. COACHING: Communicates a positive attitude; serves as a catalyst for action and encourages employees to try new things and to take calculated risks; provides honest feedback; minimizes tension and defensiveness; creates an environment for success; teaches and guides employees rather than controls.

4b. EMPOWERING: Creates an awareness in others of their powers and self worth; involves others and shares powers in planning and decision-making; fosters leadership in others; challenges others to assume leadership roles and provides support by allowing them to risk, fail and learn; creates an environment in which others feel ownership for results and feel comfortable to take action to achieve desired results.

4c. MODELING: Believes in public service; treats all with respect and dignity and creates an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust. Serves as a catalyst for action and is a team player, believes in oneself and looks at problem as opportunities; uses powers in a positive way; keeps one’s work: accepts responsibility for mistakes; insists on excellence (not perfection); communicates and reinforces by what they do – not what they say; adapts to changes as conditions and situations warrant.

4d. TEAM BUILDING: Builds group cohesiveness and pride; encourages cooperation; fosters and practices good communication, recognizes and rewards individuals and team accomplishments and contributions; shares success and rewards; manages conflict, which is inevitable.

4e. VISIONING: Establishes and articulates a vision of what could be; looks to and plans for the future; accepts new challenges, keeps an open mind.

4f. SELF-DEVELOPMENT: Is not static; prepares for the future; has the courage to identify and address shortcomings; is committed to self-improvement manages personal stress in positive ways.

Rank the employee on the performance factors using the performance definitions (5=outstanding, 4=significantly exceeds expectations, 3=fully capable, 2=needs improvement, 1=unsatisfactory)


Performance Factor

Performance (From 5 to 1)




Budgeting and Economic Management 


Organization of Work




Problem Solving and Decision Making   


Evaluation and Control  


Risk (Liability) Management 



Performance Factor

Performance (From 5 to 1)


Oral Communication


Written Communication




Supervisory Control




Staff Appraisal and Development



Performance Factor

Performance (From 5 to 1)


Effort and Initiative


Professional and Technical Competence











Performance Factor

Performance (From 5 to 1)








Team Building






OVERALL EVALUATION (Please check one.)

_____ Outstanding
_____ Significantly exceeds expectations
_____ Fully capable
_____ Needs improvement
_____ Unsatisfactory

What were the performance highlights in the past year?
What could have been most improved regarding the performance in the past year?
What should be the performance goals for the next year?
Evaluator’s Signature ____________________________ Date _______________

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