Implementing A Performance Management System (PMS)

A Performance Management System is about building trust, capacity and a respectful partnership between a manager and each of their employees. Some people see performance management as trendy words for the annual performance review. It’s Not… it’s much more! This is especially true if the organization is transforming and leading change.

In a time when employees don’t feel their employers are loyal, a Performance Management System is a commitment by employers to partner with their employees and help them reach their work goals, career goals and personal goals by investing in opportunities, mentoring, encouragement and training.

In a time when employers don’t feel employee loyalty, a Performance Management System is a commitment by employees to understand and respect the organizational values and to do their best to support the organizations strategic plan and improve team / organizational effectiveness.performance-management-plan-for-success

Note: One-Year plans are common for full-time employees. Part-time or seasonal employees still participate in Performance Management, but goals may be measured by project or a shorter time-period.

Step 1: Co-Developing A One-Year Performance Management Plan

Performance Management Systems define how an organization will support its employees as they pursue a set of goals. It also defines how each employee will support a department and/or organization strategic plan.

To set a One-Year Plan, each employee and manager should:

  1. Review the employee’s job description to ensure it is up-to-date and reflects the work the employee is doing and appropriate measurement criteria. This is especially important if the organization is leading change and transformation.
  2. Review how the employee’s work supports the teams and the organization’s goals, objectives and strategic plan.
  3. Identify three to five employee performance objectives for the year. These should be specific and measurable and dependent on:
    • The organization’s strategic plan
    • Key deliverables that are associated with the employee’s responsibilities
    • Employee goals
  4. Recognize that at some point, unexpected opportunities and crisis will happen and will have unexpected (positive and or negative), impact.
  5. Develop a more detailed work plan (tasks / tactics), based on the three to five employee performance objectives.
  6. Specify the consequences for the employee and the organization if they are responsible for the performance objective not being met.

Note: Experienced managers and employees will leave time for unexpected opportunities/crisis (practicing good Time Management).

Step 2. Monitor A Performance Management System / Year Plan

To be effective, performance must be continuously monitored. Therefore, when implementing a performance management system be sure to include an agreed upon way to monitor progress. In today’s work environment where autonomy, relevance and progress are important, monitoring refers to measuring results for both the employees and the organization.

One approach to monitoring I particularly like was introduced to me by one of my previous bosses; it’s what I call ’10-minute laser meetings’. In this case, my boss met with each of his employees once a week for 10-minutes to discuss critical issues on major projects. For each of these meetings, it was each employees responsibility to chair these meetings and be prepared to:

  • Introduce the project and what success looks like (the performance objectives).
  • Share what progress has been made towards meeting the performance objectives.
  • Identify any barriers that may prevent the employee from accomplishing the previously agreed upon performance objectives. (Get management input and support here)
  • Suggest what needs to be done to overcome any barriers. (Get management input and support here)
  • Identify if there has been a shift in organization priorities or if the employee has assumed new / unexpected responsibilities. (Get management input and support here)

Defining the appropriate measurement criteria is one of the most difficult parts of developing the strategic year plan. Remember people often respond better to positive reinforcement vs. punishment. I strongly recommend considering the value of intrinsic motivation to help managers encourage employees.

Step 3. Managing Shortfalls

Sometimes there will be shortfalls. Sometimes those shortfalls are outside of an employees control… and sometimes they are within the employee’s control. In the cases where performance fell short of objectives…

  • Stay positive and cordial – good rarely comes from hostile behavior.
  • Document the challenges/shortfalls encountered:
    • Answer the What, Where, Why questions.
    • Did the challenge fall within or outside of the employee’s control?
  • Are the change management and transformation plans impacting the project?
  • Identify opportunities for coaching… by the manager or professional executive coach.
  • Give constructive feedback in a non-threatening way.
  • Identify areas for training and development.

Throughout the year (perhaps quarterly), managers should formally assess each employee’s performance. The beauty of the laser meetings mentioned above (for example), is that both the manager and employee have up-to date examples of how goals are… or are not being met; there should be no surprises.

Step 4: Continuous Coaching / Having Difficult Conversations

Coaching / mentoring and managing shortfalls can be done by the manager or by bringing in a professional executive coach.

Implementing a performance management also means making sure everyone feel comfortable having difficult conversations. Learning how to give constructive feedback in a non-threatening way helps everyone address performance issues in a productive, supportive way and ensure that even challenging moments lead to a positive contribution.

The role of the coach is to demonstrate good listening skills and to deliver honest feedback. In a coaching role, the manager is not expected to have all the answers… but they do ask questions that help the employee and themselves analyze the situation. Coaching means working with employees to identify opportunities and methods to maximize strengths and improve weak areas.

Mentoring can include providing constructive feedback to address a particular performance issue if an employee is not meeting the agreed upon performance expectations. The beauty (and my belief), importance of weekly 10-minute laser meetings is that challenges or shortfalls are identified early and don’t have time to become critical issues… they are taken care of early when they first arise.

Step 5: Employee Training and Development Plan

A critical part of a Performance Management System is for the manager and each employee to identify areas for further training and development opportunities. These should support the workplace activities that the employee should undertake as well as their career goals and personal goals.

This step should not be taken lightly.  Training and development opportunities must be supported and pursued by the employee, their manager and the HR department. All parties involved must take a leadership role – no matter how high or low on the seniority scale they are.

The main goal here is to find, mentor, train and motivate… and therefore retain top talent all while also leading strategic corporate change. Hiring and training new people is a great expense compared to a modest training and development investment. This is a critical component to the long-term success of a Performance Management System… I cannot emphasis this benefit enough.


A Performance Management System is a much more than recapping performance once-per-year with an annual performance review. As I said above, this is especially true if the organization is transforming and leading change.

Performance management includes activities such as joint goal setting, continuous progress review and frequent communication. The idea is to ensure resources like talent are valued and maximized (monitored and respected), as much as resources like technology, equipment and finances are monitored and respected.

Happy communicating, mentoring, motivating… and leading change.

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Leadership Styles, Leadership Qualities, Leadership Skills

Business is about people — it always has been although sometimes we forget this and put the bottom line before customers and employees needs. In the short-term we get away with the putting bottom line first, but soon goodwill begins to drop, employee and customer loyalty drops and turnover increases; creating a very risky and more expensive organizational challenge.

And while human capital is an organization’s most important asset, in today’s job market employee loyalty is low – in part I believe because employer loyalty has been on a steady decline for the last 30 plus years. Many employees wonder why they should be loyal if the company isn’t. So, most full-time employees (especially Millennials), see themselves as entrepreneurs who are working a contract and happy to move on. Why? Because all the evidence has taught them they are dispensable.

A Bruce Mayhew Consulting I enjoy helping leaders create leadership development plans and create great teams. To help you do your own not-so-quick analysis of the state of your leadership development plan, here’s an extensive list of 20 important leadership development goals.

1. Focus On Strategy

The leadership team need to know and support its business strategy, key objectives and stakeholders of the organization.

Without doubt I believe having and sharing a vision is one of the most important goals of a Leader. Their next most important role is establishing and supporting their team… what I will call Talent Management (point 2).

I’ve mentioned in some of my other blog posts how during one of my corporate jobs I had a boss who rarely shared a clear vision with the team. And he was so involved in the ‘doing’ of our work that he became a bottleneck for productivity and a significant drain on moral and creativity. The result was the department regularly missed deadlines and frustrated employees (like me), left.

2. Talent Management

This is a big area.

Leaders hire (using BEI), by thoughtfully considering the talent AND soft skills required for the job as well as the team/department.

Leaders mentor their staff to collaborate and depend on each others talents, look for opportunities to grow and to not be shy about adding their opinion or discouraged if/when another recommendation is made or someone builds upon their recommendation.

In best cases, leaders keep a written list of their employees strengths close at hand.

3. Increase Knowledge

Working hand-in-hand with Talent Management, ‘Increasing Knowledge’ is a way leaders better themself as well as inspire their team. One of my most favourite leadership qualities is to always look to improve. Increasing your knowledge or gaining a new skill keeps you fresh and open to new ideas. Whether its reading a book, finding a mentor, listening to a pod cast, group training or attending night-school, increasing your knowledge sets a motivating example to employees.

As employees see their leaders participating in training and development and reaching personal goals, they are encouraged to do the same. In addition, great leaders work with employees to plan team and individual goals. Increasing knowledge is critical at all employee levels and supportive step as they set high performance challenges and encourage employees to step out of their comfort zone.

Want to engage your team more? Turn this into a team-building, collaborative exercise by asking team members what group training they want. Work with each employee to create their personal development plan – both for their professional and personal goals.

4. Tap Into Your Emotional Intelligence (EI)

Emotional intelligence is a persons ability to draw on their soft-skills and to mindfully interact with others. Emotional intelligence builds trust and supports a mutually beneficial relationship. More technically EI founders Peter Salovey and John Mayer define EI as follows;

Emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive emotions, to access and generate emotions so as to assist thought, to understand emotions and emotional knowledge, and to reflectively regulate emotions so as to promote emotional and intellectual growth.

– Mayer & Salovey, 1997

A department head that lacks emotional intelligence is just as unqualified as a department head that doesn’t have technical knowledge and experience.

5. Practice Coaching

Coaching isn’t easy.  Coaching creates an environment that’s conducive to growth – helping individuals succeed by expanding their abilities (knowledge, experience and soft skills), and move up their professional ladder. And lets not forget work/life balance.

Leaders who coach help their employees to recognize their strengths, develop their strengths and overcome their weaknesses.

6. Support Collaboration

Leadership creates and maintains an environment that supports collaboration where team members respectfully share information, decision-making, responsibility, learning and recognition.

One of the most important leadership qualities is the ability to guide employees to see how their work and work habits support the greater vision and goals (personal goals, professional goals, team goals, organizational goals).

7. Motivate

Motivation often sits hand-in-hand with ‘Communication’ (point 16), and together they inspire employees to give their best. When leaders learn motivation skills they maximize effectiveness and improve employee engagement and loyalty.

Employee motivation can take many forms – from wanting to work for leaders who make decisions quickly so the team keeps moving forward (point 20), to many other non-military motivators like telling someone they did a great job and/or are a valuable part of the team.

Zenger Folkman have done lots of great research here as well.

8. Manage Off-Site

What are the chances that your next best employee lives within 50kms of your office? Slim!

More and more employers are using technology to plan, communicate and collaborate virtually with their team members. And, more and more employees are embracing the work-from-home (or Starbucks), lifestyle. Millennials are naturally used to working, managing and being managed off-site… and more and more Boomers and Gen X are seeing the personal and professional benefits.

9. Manage Difficult Conversations & Conflict

When we avoid a difficult conversations the issue can never get resolved… until valuable talent or clients leave – and then it’s just gone… not resolved. I write extensively within some of my Blog Posts and Difficult Conversation Training that when we participate in difficult conversations we have an opportunity to build trust and respect which means our relationships with other people and/or organizations improve greatly.Long Term Gain

When we participate in difficult conversations we demonstrate we care enough to bother. Short term pain = long-term gain.

10. Practice And Encourage Time Management

Time management lets us be consciously aware of being proactive – not reactive. Time management and Leadership skills mean leaders help their teams practice good time management skills and focus on their important work / strategic work vs. busy work. Sometimes this means learning how to say ‘No’ or ‘Not Now’ to some requests.

Being a good leader also means learning how to prioritize, delegate tasks, set realistic deadlines and avoid distractions. Time management helps employees effectively manage their workload, thereby spend more time on the projects and tasks that have the greatest contribution to personal and professional success.

11. Embrace and Steward Change Management

Most people are naturally resistant to change even though change management is necessary to stay current and relevant. A successful leadership quality is the ability to have a clear focus AND also be open to change.

Setting change management goals is a first step to motivate employees to embrace change. Then, bring employees into the discussion on how to implement change – letting them add to the discussion and become part of the implementation solution.

When you incorporate change management into your training and development plan, you will experience increased employee retention, productivity, and your employees will get used to staying open to change – not resistant to change.

12. Cross Train Employees As A Motivational Tool

Cross training is a leadership style often overlooked by organizations looking for VERY low-cost ways to improve profitability, team performance, collaboration and employee retention. All leaders should use this as a highly beneficial, non-monetary recognition AND investment in their employees.

Aside from the confidence that there will always be someone available to get a key activity done when (not if), an employee is sick or on vacation, almost all employees see cross training as their employer making an investment in their personal and professional future. In addition, employees see this as a desirable way to expand their personal and professional knowledge/experience (Win/Win).

13. Industry, Competitive And Customer Knowledge

Moving away from supporting their team, one of the best leadership qualities is to fully understand their industry, who are their competitors and to know what their customers need and value.

14. Trust & Be Trustworthy

We all have experienced people who ignore our suggestions or who take credit for others’ ideas. Employees must trust their leaders just like customers must trust your product / service. Employees must trust their leaders to be knowledgeable, fair and to support them when they need to escalate challenges.

In addition, employees must feel their leaders trust their judgement, knowledge and that they are acting in everyone’s best interest.

Trust is a two-way street.

15. Read The Financials

My least favourite leadership skill is spending time reading, interpreting and using financials even thought I know its an important part of improving business strategy.

This is an important part of being a leader… and now I’m moving on.

16. Mindful Listening / Communication

Leaders know productivity and motivation is tied to communication. Effective leaders openly share goals and vision and other relevant information in real-time… keeping the team up-to-date.

One of the most important leadership qualities is how leaders communicate to build a community and an appreciative workspace that also respects work/life balance. Leaders teach their employees to be clear and to get to the point with their verbal and written communication.

When communicating, skillful leaders use mindful leadership and mindful listening techniques like not judging, waiting to respond vs. react during conversations, and asking open-ended questions. Mindful leaders demonstrate patience and caring.

17. Look Around

Leaders also don’t wait for a performance review to tell people how they’re doing. Millennials especially want coaching and feedback on a regular basis – even if all you share is “Thank you – you did a good job on that report”.

Leaders notice employees’ unique, specific contributions and they take the time to acknowledge those contributions. Leadership skills also include having respect for others no matter if they are a Secretary or a CEO.

18. Lead Effective Meetings

Practice and share your meeting skills. Most of us spend too many hours in meetings. Great leaders keep coach their team to use meetings sparingly… and to be efficient when you do have them. The following are a few general points to keep in mind in order to lead effective meetings:

  • Start & finish on time
  • Always share the purpose of the meeting in advance so attendees can prepare
  • Everyone has an equal voice
  • Decisions get made
  • Action items get assigned
  • Document decisions and action items
  • Everyone acts on agreed upon decisions and action items in a timely manner

19. Find The Right Job For The Right People

Great leaders work with their staff to understand their talents, their passions and their aspirations. The better the leader the higher the engagement.

Great leaders put and keep the right people in the right jobs. When people love their jobs they are more productive and creative. If a promotion is the right decision for an existing high achiever, a great leader helps that employee understand any gaps that may exist and help them overcome those gaps (develop a new skill), with coaching and training.

20. Speed and Agility

Nobody likes to work for an organization or leader that can not make a discussion or move forward.

This may also be a leader that gets stuck at 95% on a project and try to hit 100%. While there are places (like space travel), where 100% is important, in many cases the effort to go from 95% to 98% will be similar to the time and cost to get a whole new project up to the 95% level.

Great bosses always understand the vision – and allow that vision to make decisions quickly. This means that employees always know what they have to do next… and are always moving forward… learning, doing, accomplishing greatness.


Leadership is no easy task – it takes lots of work just to lead… which supports the idea that leadership is a full-time commitment to strategy. Quality leaders can’t be knee-deep into doing the ‘doing’.

When you are planning your strategy and managing the other 20 steps, be sure the goals you set are:

  • Realistic – While goals should be challenging, they should also be achievable.
  • Appropriate – for current personal and professional goals.
  • Clear – Managers should easily understand the goals they’re working toward and why those goals are necessary.
  • On A Timeline – When goals have beginning and end points, team members work to reach the finish line.
  • Measurable – The ability to identify progress encourages employees and boosts confidence.
  • Rewarded – If a goal is achieved, it’s essential to give recognition. This heightens employee confidence and encourages further progress.

The biggest challenge leaders face is the desire to forgo long-term strategy for short-term gain. Decades of research on leadership styles and leadership skills demonstrate that emotional intelligence and social skills are critical for long-term leadership and organizational success.

Happy communicating.

Click here to join our priority list to receive our latest Business Communication blog posts.

If you enjoyed this post we think you’ll like:

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates training and development courses including Difficult Conversations, Email Etiquette, Time Management and Mindfulness.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

Click on the image to watch us on Canada AM.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at

Call us at 416.617.0462.

View Bruce Mayhew's profile on LinkedIn

Bruce Mayhew Consulting

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.


On The Job Training – Like Getting Back To The Gym.

This blog post is about inspiration. It’s about developing a training plan that is equally beneficial to you and your company. Because I believe that if on the job training is good for you – it will be good for your company.

Now is the perfect time for you to plan on the job training that will make the ‘You Brand’ even better. For example:

  • Attend a skill building workshop
  • Organize a team building event
  • Study for a professional certificate
  • Get back to the gym

Whatever staff development you choose – as soon as you start planning it you and the people around you will start to benefit from the excitement. Even a few small changes can have a noticeable result on your personal and corporate brand value and competitive advantage. But any on the job training is just like getting back to the gym – the full benefit will take a bit of time to realize. Most great things need practice to experience amazing results.

Example 1

Because I know email writing training and email etiquette really well, let me use that as my first example. In this world of electronic communication as much as 90% of our communication is by email or instant message (IM). Our writing habits often are the first impression we make and reinforce our ongoing relationships. That wasn’t always the case – as little as 10 years ago most of our communication was face-to-face or over the phone.

The numbing reality is that most business people receive and respond to between 100 and 200 email each day; this staggering number has taken its toll on relationship building and customer care. We’ve transitioned away from managing people’s expectations – not because we don’t care… we’re just so busy, and were never taught easy methods to effectively manage this volume while protecting our reputation and our relationships.

But there is still a universal truth that business success depends on being able to:

  • Demonstrate your personal uniqueness
  • Demonstrate your corporate advantages
  • Take care of your customers
  • Differentiate you and your company in your market

How does communication training work?

Good communications skills are as much a competitive advantage as a five-star sales representative and a product like the latest iPhone©. Good communication skills turn every employee into a brand advocate and a customer service expert. Even people in departments without direct customer contact (like Accounts Payables and Purchasing), have direct impact. Consider: they do:

  • Make an impression on outside influencers
  • Have an influence on the moral and productivity of employees from other departments (like Sales and Customer Service)

But as I said earlier, I believe any investment in self-improvement and on the job training benefits the ‘You Brand’ and your company success.

Example 2

I’m currently experiencing my own learning curve – I’m moving from PC to Mac©. Thankfully, I am receiving professional training and support from employees at the Apple© store – but in the end… I have to practice. It takes a bit of time – and sometimes I just want to go back to the old way because I can ‘get it done quickly’. But in the long run I know my time investment and practice will pay off.

I must say I’m amazed at the quality of service I receive. The employees are thoughtful – polite – curious – energetic – present (not looking like they want to be somewhere else). Why is that? Is it because they are paying these kids 6-figure salaries? No.

As a corporate trainer I’m sure these kids (mostly Millenials – who have a reputation for being ‘hard to motivate’), are engaged because Apple invests in staff development – so these happy employees treat their clients with respect. Every employee knows how to represent the corporate values.

The same thing happens at Starbucks™ where it’s easy to see ongoing on the job training. Positive energy and corporate investment helps create proud, talented employees who in turn believe in their employer, product and customer… and it shows.

Evey employee and every company is worth the time and commitment that comes from a solid training plan. And, your clients will reward you with purchases and loyalty.

As soon as you upgrade your skills the people around you will notice something is different. They may not know what it is… but they will ‘feel’ something good has happened – and this will help your reputation… as well as productivity. The same thing happens when my clients start writing better email. Their clients get better customer service as their expectations are consistently met.


Take a class – invest in you – develop a training plan – look for on the job training opportunities. Over time things will start to change. You’ll be managing your expectations, your client expectations and even co-worker expectations better.

But remember it’s important to be patient and to practice. It takes time to manage and experience full benefit… like learning a new routine at the gym makes a great difference in your health and how you feel.

Another opportunity to take full advantage of staff development is to consider is team training. Team training also provides motivation and support from your co-workers. And, giving everyone the same resources and knowledge promotes:

  • Peer support (seeing how your co-workers are using new techniques)
  • Knowledge sharing and best practices
  • Learning by example (seeing how your co-workers are using the new skills)

Happy communicating… Happy training.

Click here to join our priority list of people who receive our latest Business Communication blog posts.

If you enjoyed this post we think you’ll like:

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Email Etiquette, Managing Difficult Conversations, Multigenerational Training, Time Management and Mindfulness.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at

Give us a call at 416 617 0462. We’ll listen.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

Click on the image to watch us on Canada AM.

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

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