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August 09, 2011
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Managing performance

After the hire, it’s time for “performance management,” says Michael Dougal, director of human resource (HR) consulting at HRN Performance Solutions, Salt Lake City.

That’s more than just a performance appraisal, he says. “It’s the umbrella over the whole process.”

That process includes three elements:

  1. Planning. The supervisor sets goals and expectations in collaboration with the employee.
  2. Managing.The supervisor observes performance and provides feedback throughout the year.
  3. Reviewing performance. At year’s end, the supervisor sits down with the employee to discuss performance during the previous 12 months and plan performance objectives for the coming year.

“We encourage at least one other review during the year, usually at six months,” Dougal says. Some credit unions do reviews more often, but year-end reviews are generally linked to pay increases.

“Our Web-based Performance Pro system isn’t just an appraisal tool,” he says. “It’s a performance management solution complete with manager tools, HR forms, and credit union-specific content. It’s fully customizable, not a one-size-fits-all proposition. We help clients create their own unique performance management measurements and criteria, and they determine what weight to give those performance factors.”

Organizations face many issues when assessing employee performance. One perennial issue, Dougal says, “is getting supervisors to be consistent in their ratings. Some supervisors are considered ‘easy raters,’ giving mostly high scores, while others are conservative or restrictive when appraising employees.”

The problem is many performance systems use a global scoring mechanism that’s applied to all factors being evaluated, for example: meets, exceeds, or highly exceeds objectives.

“Performance Pro provides up to five detailed descriptors that are specific to each task, such as teamwork,” Dougal explains. “Each supervisor can choose from among those detailed descriptors” to ensure supervisors more closely mirror one another when evaluating performance.

HRN Performance Solutions also provides customized training to clients in the areas of performance management, coaching, and goal-setting. This reinforces the importance of both positive and “developmental” feedback.

“We’ll sometimes role play in training sessions on how to deliver developmental feedback,” Dougal says. “We do this because we’re committed to helping managers and supervisors build their skills, improve their techniques, and improve both employee and organizational performance.


  1. 2011-2012 CEO Total Compensation Survey
  2. 2011-2012 Complete Credit Union Staff Salary Survey

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory ( will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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