how to manage performance … OH, OH!

Performance Management CourseDr. Aubrey Daniels coined the term performance management in the late 1970s to describe a technology and methods for managing behavior and results because these two elements are critical to performance.

Performance management is the process of creating a work environment or setting in which people are enabled to perform to the best of their abilities. Performance management is a whole work system that begins when a job is defined as needed. It ends when an employee leaves your organization.

One of the most important functions of team leaders is to effectively manage the human resources they supervise. This begins with designing the jobs, qualifications and the level of performance required to achieve the organizational or departmental goals. This is achieved in part by hiring best candidates, training and coaching them to clarify and achieve expectations, defining performance standards, documenting and evaluation.

All of this is good but to achieve any of the above goals, there must be effective two-way communication between supervisors and employees. The performance management plan should include the principles that performance management is considered a process, not an event; elements for discussion and evaluation should be job specific – not generalized personality traits; major responsibilities should be defined and communicated as the first step in the process.

Other key principles are employees must be involved in identifying and defining performance standards; documentation of performance will occur as often as needed; team leaders and supervisor should be evaluated on the successful administration of the program and the performance Plan must be consistent with federal and state non-discrimination laws.

Now that we have explored some of the foundational aspects of performance management, we can more examine one of the key components of the process, the job description.

Job Descriptions

Many employers formally document the content of their jobs. Some of the more common methods of job documentation are checklists, Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), and job descriptions. Generally, employers are free to decide whether they will have job descriptions and, if so, how to use them. Many employers choose to use the written job description because they find it provides them the greatest utility of all job documentation methods.

Depending on how detailed they are, job descriptions can be used directly or indirectly to assign work and document work assignments, clarify missions, establish performance requirements, assign occupational codes, titles and/or pay levels to jobs, recruit for vacancies, career counseling, training, legal requirements related to equal opportunity, equal pay, overtime eligibility, make decisions on job restructuring and suggest ways to enrich the work experience.

The job description writer should use action verbs with an implied subject (who) and explicit work objects and/or outputs (what). See the following example from a list of action verbs such as evaluates, assigns, collects, analyzes, identifies, prepares or revises.

In effect, all job descriptions are summaries. The objective is to provide enough information in the right format to be accurate, clear and useful to the associate and the employer. The employer must ensure that job descriptions contain enough accurate information so that they do not confuse or mislead managers, associates or job applicants.

Keep Job Descriptions Current

Job descriptions have the potential to become the subject of contention in grievances or litigation. Review them on a regularly scheduled basis. Some jobs are dynamic due to technological or organizational considerations, and should be reviewed often. Other jobs change less frequently and can continue to be reviewed on an established schedule.


Disclaimers such as “Performs other duties or functions as assigned” are used in job descriptions. If these duties are “essential”, they must be listed under that heading. All job descriptions should remind readers that they are not meant to be all-inclusive and the job itself is subject to change. Every job description should contain the phrase, “and other duties as required.” An example of a sample phrases is, “Nothing in this job description restricts management’s right to assign or reassign duties and responsibilities of this job at any time.”

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James E. McClain is the author of Successful Career Development: A Game Plan, the book upon which some of our training programs are based. He has over 30 years' experience as a corporate HR executive, small business owner with ongoing experience in career development and as a college instructor. His educational background includes a B.S. and Masters degrees Education and Certification in Financial Planning. Our promise is that "you can pay more for training but you can not buy better training." The mission is to deliver the most effective and cost effective training and development programs.

Posted in Professional Skills

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