Posted on October 1, 2013

Great Performance Management: It’s All about PACE

Ever since the recession in 2008, companies have learned to do more with less. This means managers are facing more time constraints and pressures than ever, and performance management efforts are often the first thing to go when schedules get busy. However, increasing the performance and productivity of your direct reports will actually reduce your workload and increase employee engagement.

Based on one-on-one interactions between managers and direct reports, such as individual meetings, performance reviews and job observations, performance management is about improving each employee’s job performance through ongoing processes, coaching and continuous feedback. Seasoned HR professional Becky Falvey, who gave us five practical performance management tips and four must-haves for any performance management program, breaks down the performance management process into a simple acronym: PACE.

P is for Prepare

Managers should prepare thoroughly for each interaction, decide what they want to get out of it and what insight they will share with their direct reports.

Example: Your direct report, Matthew, was recently assigned a large project, and feels overwhelmed by his new workload. In preparation for your weekly one-on-one meeting, you spend a few minutes thinking about how to help him prioritize and manage his time. You decide to share some prioritization insights to help him balance his workload while still moving forward on key initiatives.

A is for Analyze

Compare the behavior you have observed in your direct reports to your expectations, and identify any gaps. To better understand the big picture, think about what numbers or metrics could be associated with their performance.

Example: You have observed Matthew stretching himself thin across several projects, and want to use your one-on-one meeting to bring his priorities into focus. Ahead of time, you asked him to prepare a list of the projects he is working on and how much time he is spending on each. Before your meeting, you rank each project based on its impact to the bottom line to identify the gaps—is he spending too much time on low-impact projects?

C is for Coach

Once you’ve identified a behavior you want to change or enhance, don’t tell your direct reports what to do—use the opportunity to teach them instead. Help them understand an insight that is real and focused on the future.

Example: Matthew comes into your office for your weekly one-on-one, looking stressed and frazzled. From your earlier preparation and analysis, you know that he is spending too much time on projects with a low impact to the bottom line, and should be prioritizing the higher-impact projects. Because you know that just telling him won’t help him internalize the insight, you walk through his project list line by line and engage in an honest, collaborative discussion about the importance and priority of each initiative. Through your coaching, he begins to see that he has been spending too much time on low-priority items. You talk about how he might adjust his priorities in the future.

E is for Execute

Every performance management interaction should result in an action plan. Decide together on specific next steps and determine who owns what step. It’s a good idea to write it down for later reference.

Example: Now that Matthew has realized he needs to prioritize his projects differently than before, the two of you decide on some specific next steps:
# Matthew will revise his project list to reflect his new priorities and bring it to your next meeting.
# You will share your list of team projects, ranked in order of bottom-line impact, with the rest of the team to help them understand the big picture and priority of each.

Following the PACE method for each performance management interaction will help you increase the productivity of your team, improve their engagement and decrease your workload. Find out how technology like Paycor’s HR application can help you manage your team better and learn about other performance management best practices in the 5 Practical Performance Management Tips.