Information and resources on performance management systems. Explore the links below to learn more.
What is performance management?Open
Performance management is what an organisation does to realise its potential against performance targets, to deliver high-quality services and to identify opportunities for improvement, change and innovation. Performance management systems are designed to get the best out of people in the workplace, and to deliver the best for people who use services.
Not everyone believes that performance management is a good thing. Nonetheless, there has to be a way of measuring whether an organisation or business is performing well and meeting its objectives. The key is to have a system that is appropriate to the organisation and all the good ones are those that recognise the importance of workforce engagement or the 'golden thread'. To see how local authorities are doing this, consult the document produced by the Local Government Improvement and Development Agency and the Audit Commission Performance management: The people dimension. There is also A manager's guide to performance management.
At its most effective, performance management is not only about achieving targets. It emphasises core social care values of respect, locating people who use services at the centre of the business model. Approached in this way, performance management can promote excellence in service delivery and result in a more highly motivated and involved workforce.
National minimum standards for certain services in social care, national occupational standards and codes of practice are shaping the performance management framework in the social care sector. Best-value reviews and inspection processes should be seen as opportunities for improving performance and services, rather than experiences of scrutiny to be feared.
The involvement of people who use services is a key feature of an effective performance management framework.
The application of a whole systems model to performance management ensures that issues of performance, including involvement of people who use services, are addressed throughout an organisation's systems, culture, practice and review processes.
Effective performance management rests upon the recording of reliable data at individual, team and service levels. A simple computerised system of monitoring and record keeping is vital. However, systems are only tools to support performance and should be used proactively, for example to produce quarterly forecasts and early warnings of inadequate performance.
When commissioning IT systems to manage service performance data, local authorities need to consider the staff time taken in recording performance data. Social work staff often complain of spending more time entering performance data in information systems than doing direct work with people who use services. Authorities should avoid wherever possible the need for staff to enter data in multiple information systems. This should be a major consideration when organisations are procuring a new IT system.
Senior managers will have to model sensitive leadership practice, to listen to and take into account the views of staff and people who use services, and to ensure that decision making is transparent. They should encourage a learning culture as opposed to perpetuating a culture of blame. Where there are performance problems, senior managers should examine their own business practice, and share lessons learned and remedial action with their staff.
Staff management practice, for example regular supervision meetings, staff appraisal and personal training plans, forms the bedrock of an effective performance management system. All employees need to understand clearly what is expected of them in terms of effective performance. Individual managers need to be able to support staff and address any shortfall in performance without falling into the trap of 'setting people up to fail'. A capability policy can provide clear guidelines for managers on how to identify performance shortfalls objectively and agree clear improvement targets and methods.
Dealing with bullying and harassmentOpen
Bullying and harassment of any kind should not be tolerated in the workplace. Although the values of social inclusion and anti-discrimination practice are inherent in the social care sector, it should not be assumed that bullying does not occur. Every organisation, no matter how small, should have policies that address bullying and harassment in the workplace and which protect staff from violence or intimidation. Systems need to be in place to challenge bad practice and the abuse of people who use services and the systems for reporting this need to be accessible to all staff and people who use services.
In order to guard against harassment, it is also important to have a policy to positively promote diversity in the workforce. This will assist both the recruitment and retention of staff who may have experienced discrimination. It is a requirement for employers to consult the Equality Act 2010 for this purpose.
Employment practices must also be carer/family-friendly and conform to legislative requirements. This includes recognising the needs of people in the workforce who are carers for disabled adults, as well as carers for children.
The Dignity at Work Partnership is a project established with funding jointly from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and Amicus to tackle the problem of bullying and harassment in the workplace. The aim of the project is for employers and employee representatives to work together to find ways of addressing issues connected with bullying.
Tackling negative cycles: the 'set-up-to-fail syndrome'Open
Research by Manzoni and Barsoux, detailed in their 2002 book The set-up-to-fail syndrome: How good managers cause great people to fail, confirmed that poor performance at work is often the result of negative behaviour by managers themselves, which is then reflected back by employees. This is termed the 'set-up-to-fail' syndrome, where otherwise effective managers inadvertently cause good employees to under-perform. The syndrome arises as a consequence of a number of unconscious processes operating in the relationship between manager and employee:
- Managers typically respond to perceived low performers with more control and less support than they give to perceived high performers.
- Although the manager intends to be supportive, this can be experienced by the employee as controlling and inhibiting.
- The manager primarily notices evidence that confirms their view of poor performance.
- Employees tend to label managers and make early judgements about whether they are in the 'in' or 'out' group.
- The manager's behaviour confirms to the employee that they are part of the 'out' group. The employee becomes hyper-sensitised to the manager's communications in a way that the manager does not understand.
- The level of mistrust and loss of confidence adversely impacts on the employee's performance.
- The employee disengages from the manager and may engage in oppositional behaviour.
- The manager's perceptions are therefore reinforced by the behaviour of the employee.
Managers must learn how to enter situations with an open mind, how to approach difficult conversations and, ultimately, how to stop a downward spiral in performance and the managerial relationship. They should consult their counterparts in Human Resources at the beginning of the process rather than when it becomes challenging. Manzoni and Barsoux outline six concrete steps that can act as a guiding framework to help stop the decline:
- Agreeing on the issues: both parties must identify and agree the specific areas where the employee is struggling.
- Finding the causes: the manager and employee must jointly explore the causes of weak performance including the effect of the manager's behaviour.
- Finding the cure: both must agree on performance objectives and on actions to improve the relationship.
- Preventing relapse: the manager and the employee should pledge to address future problems earlier and commit to more open communication.
- Monitoring the effectiveness of the treatment: beyond the initial discussions, both parties must hold periodic progress reviews.
- The manager should initiate the first steps, but both parties should be active in the process.
This is a highly regarded system for understanding and interpreting personality. Managers and employees have used it successfully to gain insight into the type of worker they are and the style of managing and being managed that suits them best. It is best practice to use the original gold standard indicator and for it to be used with agreement.Coaching
Within the context of the workforce, coaching may be seen as a tool used for supporting personal development. It is about helping a person develop their skills and knowledge in order to improve their performance. It involves listening, clarifying and reframing in order to help establish goals and practical steps towards those goals. Coaching an entire team or a business is also possible and has become increasingly popular.Mentoring
Mentoring has been confused with coaching as it involves similar skills. Mentoring tends to be used to describe a relationship where a more experienced member of staff uses their knowledge and experience to guide a more inexperienced member of staff.
High-quality supervision is one of the most important drivers in ensuring positive outcomes for people who use social care and children's services. It also has a crucial role to play in the development, retention and motivation of the workforce.
Supervision can be defined as:
'... an accountable process which supports, assures and develops the knowledge, skills and values of an individual, group or team. The purpose is to improve the quality of their work to achieve agreed outcomes.' Providing effective supervision (Skills for Care and CWDC 2007, p 5)
Those providing supervision should be trained in supervision skills and have an up-to-date knowledge of the legislation, policy and research relevant to practice in adult social care or safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children.
The key functions of supervision are:
- management (ensuring competent and accountable performance/practice)
- development (continuing professional development)
- support (supportive/restorative function)
- engagement/mediation (engaging the individual with the organisation).
Social work has an established tradition of supervision. However, at times the need for performance appraisal (in the management function) may mean less time for reflective practice (development function). Logic suggests that getting this balance right would be best practice.
In the area of social care, supervision may be understood slightly differently, however there is nothing to suggest that the four functions do not apply. In a sector where any form of supervision may be seen as an extra bonus in a cost-driven environment, the business case in terms of staff wellbeing, staff retention and outcomes for people who use the service should be considered. This should include consultation for supervisors and/or managers. CQC in Essential standards of quality and safety refer to supervision and appraisal in the part relating to guidance.
Frequency of supervision
National Minimum Standards are linked to the Care Standards Act 2000.
These indicate that frequency of supervision should be 6 times per annum for residential care - older people setting(2 monthly) and 4 times per annum ( 3monthly)for the domiciliary setting. It is suggested that supervision covers all aspects of practice, philosophy of care and career development needs.
Children’s Workforce Development Council, CWDC and Skills for Care suggest frequency of supervision in social work will depend on a number of different factors. CWDC suggest between two and six weekly intervals for all front line workers and weekly for newly qualified workers.
In relation to social work, the report Building a safe, confident future: The final report of the Social Work Task Force(Department for Education 2009), supervision is identified as a critical aspect of the support that employers should provide to social workers. It identifies three specific functions of supervision that must be in place to support effective practice: line management; professional (or case) supervision; and continuing professional development.
In line with these recommendations, a national standard for supervision will be developed for social workers, as part of the comprehensive reform programme that the government has committed to taking forward.
Skills for Care supervision toolkit
Skills for Care, with a wide range of partners, has developed a toolkit to support supervision practice. It is designed for supervisors and those receiving supervision to make the most of the opportunities that supervision offers. The toolkit includes a tested unit of competence.
Performance appraisal policy and schemeOpen
The performance appraisal policy supports the performance appraisal scheme. The scheme is a formal process centred on a meeting of each employee and their line manager to discuss their work. The purpose of the meeting is to review the previous year's achievements and to set objectives for the following year. These should align individual employees' goals and objectives with organisational goals and objectives. Employee appraisal published by ACAS may be a good place to start.
The appraisal process aims to improve the effectiveness of the organisation and to achieve a motivated and competent workforce. Appraisal links the personal objectives and development aspirations of the individual with the objectives of the team and the organisation. The appraisal discussion is a two-way communication exercise to ensure that both the needs of the individual and those of the organisation are being met. It is used to identify individual training needs, and provide management with valuable data to assist in succession planning. See the Key additional resources section for a sample performance appraisal form.
360 degree feedbackOpen
As the term indicates, '360 degree feedback' is feedback that comes from all around an employee. Feedback can be provided by staff in less senior positions, colleagues and supervisors. It also includes a self-assessment and, in some cases, feedback from external sources such as customers or other stakeholders. It may be contrasted with 'upward feedback', where managers are given feedback by their direct reports, or a 'traditional performance appraisal', where employees are most often reviewed only by their managers. The results from 360 degree feedback are often used by the person receiving the feedback to plan training and development. Results are also used in making administrative decisions. When this is the case, the 360 assessment is for evaluation purposes, and is sometimes called a '360 degree review'. See the Key additional resources section for tips and templates.
Key additional resourcesOpen
- ACAS (2003/05) Employee appraisal, London: ACAS.
- Skills for Care (2008) Leadership and management: A strategy for the social care workforce, Leeds: Skills for Care.
- SCIE (2004) Learning organisations: A self assessment resource pack, London: SCIE.
- IDeA and Audit Commission (2009) A manager's guide to performance management, London: IDeA and Audit Commission. This document summarises the key messages from the Performance, Management, Measurement and Information project).
- Skills for Care (2008) Management induction standardsLeeds: Skills for Care.
- SCIE, Managing poor performance: using HRD and performance appraisal frameworks, SCIE Guide 1: Managing practice, London: SCIE.
- 360 degree tips and templates (Business Balls).
- Performance appraisal sample template (provided by Business Balls).
- CIPD (2010) Performance appraisal and Performance management, London: CIPD. Factsheets with basic information on these topics.
- Local Government Development Improvement Agency and others, Performance management: The people dimension, London: IDeA. This explains how to create a process linking individual and team efforts to organisational outcomes through focused performance management).
- PA Pool (a website bringing personal assistants and their employers together).
- Personnel Today (website).
- Skills for Care and CWDC (2007) Providing effective supervision, Leeds: Skills for Care and CWDC.
- Somerset County Council and SCIE (2011) Social care governance workbook, SCIE Guide 38,London: SCIE. This has a section on supervision and performance appraisal.
- Manzoni, J.-F. and Barsoux, J.L. (2002) The set-up-to-fail syndrome: How good managers cause great people to fail, Harvard, MA: Harvard Business School Press.
- HSE and others (2006) The well managed organisation: Diagnostic tool for managing sickness absence, London: HSE.