September 11, 2023
Joel Gomes

Workplace Performance Management: Strategies for Success

September 11, 2023
Joel Gomes

Workplace performance management plays a critical role ensuring organizations success. The process includes identifying, measuring, and improving performance of employees, teams and the organization. We will review identifying root causes of performance issues, and exploring key strategies which enhance workplace performance management, leading to increased productivity, employee satisfaction, and overall success.

Common Performance Problems

There’s an increased disconnect in employee performance and sometimes it’s difficult to pinpoint the problems. With the rapid pace of change in today’s workforce, there are frequent and unexpected problems which managers and HR leaders aren’t trained to handle. Typically, a symptom of the modern workforce is frenzied, goal-less work. It’s a common systemic problem in many organizations and the larger the organization, the worse it is. One must look at their company culture and consciously decide that a core value is to not have stressful, harried employees. Here are five performance problems found in the modern workforce and five ways you can help employees overcome them.

1. Shallow Work

Employees have work interrupted constantly by emails, internal chats and phone messages/calls. The sense of flow that comes with deep work is rarely achieved. It’s become difficult to engage in deep meaningful work due to the hyper-connectedness of modern society and modern workplaces.

Organizational leaders can help standardize communication channels with priority labels, allowing employees to disconnect and truly engage in their work.

2. Inability to Prioritize

With the addition of working from home, hypoconnectivity is a new addition to the workplace. Most organizations haven’t enforced policies or protocols to guide employees in prioritizing work over communication. For most employees, their main role is solving a set of problems. Now these employees are so focused on connectivity that the constant “communicative bombardment” invades their headspace to think, prioritize & succeed. Most employees want to feel they have a purpose and what they’re doing is more than just a task. Now they’re often “zoomed out” and lack a vision of what’s beyond the next 30 days. Without the big picture, they can’t prioritize effectively.

Employers can help communicate the big picture across departments, so employees know which tasks to complete in the correct order.

3. False Sense of Urgency

Related to previous problems, the misidentification of what “urgent” means and prioritizing projects incorrectly. A very untrue belief is that work stress equates to productivity, this commonly results in employees working on projects in the wrong order. As deadlines approach, the realization dawns at the last moment that this project is due and the steps weren’t prioritized correctly.

HR and people leaders can help employees by agreeing on a consistent definition of “urgent” to better facilitate the use of employee time.

4. Productive Procrastination

For most employees, being “busy” provides a sense of purpose. To stay busy, they’ll may tackle small projects that provide a sense of accomplishment. This is “productive procrastination”, when employees focus on is on being busy rather than efficient, which doesn’t make the big projects go away. This often stems from clarity of communication. As connected as we are, we still struggle to communicate.

Precise messaging by organizational leaders regarding the mission, vision, key performance indicators and goals of the company help employees learn to stay busy in a clear, purposeful way.

5. Low-Quality Output

Performance problems encountered by most organizations are due to low-motivation, personal or disability issues or lack of guidance which results in low-quality output or undesired behaviours. “Busy-ness” by focusing on incorrect tasks or improper prioritizing of work may offer a temporary sense of accomplishment but doesn’t move the organization forward.

HR & organizational leaders can engage in active listening and behavioral nudges with employees to help them stay focused on more meaningful, fulfilling work.

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Performance Coaching Solutions

Performance coaching aims to enhance individual and collective performances by listening, analysis, focusing on specific goals and improving key skills and capabilities. It’s not about simply telling someone what to do, it’s empowering them to discover their unique strengths and develop strategies to overcome obstacles and maximize potential. Performance coaching is a powerful tool to help individuals and teams achieve full potential and deliver outstanding results.

One key benefit of performance coaching is its ability to boost motivation and self-confidence. Through regular communication, coaching sessions and feedback, employees gain a clearer understanding of their strengths and areas for improvement. This self-awareness can be a powerful motivation driver, as it allows employees to set meaningful goals and develop action plans to achieve them.

1. Encourage Employee Engagement

Employees have lives outside of the workplace. Engaged employees are more likely to be high performers. But faced with personal or family troubles, medical disability, mental health issues, financial troubles, and other distractions, these will impact the ability of an employee to be engaged and deliver results. Organizations should strive to cultivate an environment that fosters employee engagement by leader who keenly observe and encourage regular, open, and transparent communication, involve employees in decision-making processes, and provide opportunities for growth and development. Engaged employees contribute significantly to an organization’s success and experience higher job satisfaction and loyalty.

2. Set Clear and Measurable Goals

Effective performance management begins with setting clear, measurable goals. These goals should align with the organization’s objectives and be specific to provide employees with a clear direction. By outlining the desired outcomes, employees can better understand what's expected, leading to increased motivation and accountability. Measurable goals allow for objective evaluation of performance, making it easier to identify areas for improvement.

3. Promote Regular Performance Feedback

Regular performance feedback is essential for continuous improvement and employee development. Instead of relying solely on annual or quarterly reviews, organizations should embrace a culture of ongoing feedback where managers provide timely and constructive feedback to employees. By providing feedback in a timely manner, performance issues can be addressed promptly, and employees can make necessary adjustments to enhance their performance.

4. Implement Performance Recognition Programs

Recognizing and rewarding employee performance is a powerful motivator. Organizations should consider performance recognition programs that acknowledge and appreciate exceptional performance. This can be done through various means such as monetary incentives, public recognition, or career advancement opportunities. Recognizing outstanding performance not only boosts morale, but it also serves as a model for others, encouraging them to strive for excellence.

5. Provide Training and Development Opportunities

Investing in employee training and development is crucial for maintaining and improving workplace performance. By offering relevant training programs, organizations can equip employees with the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in their roles. Additionally, providing opportunities for professional growth demonstrates the organization’s commitment to employee development and contributes to higher levels of engagement and job satisfaction.

6. Foster a Positive Work Environment

A positive work environment is essential for promoting high performance. Organizations should create an atmosphere that values teamwork, collaboration, and mutual respect. Encouraging a healthy work-life balance, promoting employee well-being, and addressing any conflicts or issues promptly are important aspects of a positive work environment. When employees feel supported and valued, they are more likely to perform their best.

7. Leverage Technology Solutions

In today’s digital age, leveraging technology solutions can significantly enhance workplace performance management. From performance tracking software to collaboration tools, technology offers innovative ways to measure and improve performance. Automation can streamline administrative tasks, allowing managers to focus on development and performance improvement initiatives.

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Performance Management/Improvement Plan (PMP/PIP)

Often overlooked, it’s important to use your organization’s Employee & Family Assistance Program (EFAP) to mitigate, provide direction and offer guidance to employees. Before placing an employee on a Performance improvement Plan (PIP) organizations must be mindful of the approach — especially pertaining to employer obligations and employee rights.

Employer actions could trigger greater concern when employees with mental health impairments are involved. Managing performance can be difficult to do when the employer is aware of a mental health issue, but what if they’re not aware? What if the employer suspects a mental health impairment is impacting the employee’s performance or conduct, but is not sure? What is safe to say, what should be left unsaid, and what should the employer do? These questions can be determined and answered by effective use of an organizations EFAP and communicative/supportive employee engagement. Depending on the nature of the issue, EFAP is a valuable first step intervention for organizational leaders when confronted with an employee performance or conduct issues.

Performance Improvement Plans (PIPs) play a crucial role in enhancing employee productivity and achieving organizational success. Instead of resorting immediately to disciplinary action, provide a personalized structured approach to address performance gaps, overcome challenges, provide guidance, and support improvement. Clearly outlining performance expectations and offering support, PIPs help employees feel engaged and motivated to improve. By investing in employees’ development through PIPs, organizations contribute to higher retention rates and create a pool of skilled individuals for future leadership positions.

1. Key Elements to Include in a PIP:

A well-designed PIP should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). Key elements to consider when creating a PIP:

- Clearly define performance expectations and specific areas for improvement.

- Set achievable goals and establish measurable targets to track progress.

- Identify necessary resources and training opportunities to support employee development.

- Determine a realistic timeline to achieve desired outcomes.

- Establish a regular feedback and monitoring system to track progress and provide support.

2. Successful PIP Implementation Strategies:

- Document: be precise and concise, document the Performance Improvement Plan and the associated performance conversation via an email or letter to the employee.

- Clear Communication: Communicate expectations, goals, and purpose of the PIP in a transparent manner. Ensure employees fully understand the process and feels supported throughout. Employees must understand the consequences of NOT successfully meeting requirements set out in the PIP.

- Collaborative Goal Setting: Involve employees in setting goals that align with organizational objectives and are relevant to their roles. This fosters ownership and commitment to improvement.

- Ongoing Support and Coaching: Provide necessary resources, training, and coaching to enable employees to bridge performance gaps. Regular check-ins should be scheduled for guidance and addressing challenges.

- Positive Reinforcement: Recognize and reward progress, even small achievements, to maintain motivation and reinforce positive behaviors.

- Flexibility and Adaptability: Remain open to adjustments during the process based on employee feedback and changing circumstances. Some strategies may need to be modified to ensure effectiveness.

3. Sustainment

The last thing any manager wants is an employee who’ll “pull up” their proverbial socks, for a brief period because they’re on a PIP and then revert once they’ve successfully completed the PIP. Strategize to manage performance and prevent this regression by issuing a successful completion and sustainment letter once the employee successfully completes a PIP. Be sure to use appropriately wording that congratulates the employee and clearly sets out the employer/managers expectation that the newly improved performance or changed behaviour, must be sustained/maintained and any deviation or regression to undesirable performance/behaviour will result in another PIP or worse. Employees must understand there are rewards for desirable performance and good results and consequences for poor performance or behaviour.


Effective workplace performance management is crucial for any organization’s success. By implementing strategies such as setting clear goals, providing regular feedback, promoting employee engagement, implementing recognition programs, offering training and development opportunities, fostering a positive work environment, and leveraging technology, organizations can optimize performance and create a culture of excellence. By prioritizing performance management, organizations can enhance productivity, increase employee satisfaction, and achieve their goals.

Performance Improvement Plans (PIPs) can serve as a catalyst for employee growth and organizational success. By implementing effective PIPs, organizations help employees overcome performance challenges and develop the skills required to excel in their roles. Through clear communication, collaborative goal setting, ongoing support, PIPs and positive reinforcement, organizations can establish a culture of continuous improvement and empower employees to reach their full potential. After all, employees are an organization most asset, right?

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