Performance Management: Brief Overview of Key Terms (generic to performance management)

© Copyright Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD, Authenticity Consulting, LLC. Adapted from Field Guide to Consulting and Organizational Development

Organizations try to manage the performance of each employee, team and process and even of the organization itself. The performance management process is very similar, regardless of where it is applied. Information in this topic describes the general performance management process. The information is customized for each application in the topics Employee Performance Management, Group Performance Management and Organizational Performance Management.

Sections of This Topic Include

Suggested Previous Reading
Key Terms

Also see
Related Library Topics

Learn More in the Library's Blogs Related to Performance Management: Terms

In addition to the articles on this current page, see the following blogs which have posts related to Performance Management: Terms. Scan down the blog's page to see various posts. Also see the section "Recent Blog Posts" in the sidebar of the blog or click on "next" near the bottom of a post in the blog.

Library's Human Resources Blog
Library's Leadership Blog
Library's Supervision Blog


Suggested Previous Reading

Readers will benefit most from having first read the subsections What Do We Mean by "Performance"? and Overall Goal and General Process in the section Basic Overview of Performance Management.

Key terms include

domain
results
measures
indicators
organizational goals
organizational preferred results
aligning results
weighting results
standards
performance plans
observing, measurements and feedback
appraisal / review
reward
performance gap
development plans

The following basic terms will be described more fully later (through use of an example) in the library in the upcoming subsections Performance Plan and Development Plan.

Domain

The domain is the focus of the performance management effort, e.g., the entire organization, a process, subsystem or an employee. A subsystem could be, e.g., departments, programs (implementing new policies and procedures to ensure a safe workplace; or, for a nonprofit, ongoing delivery of services to a community), projects (automating the billing process, moving to a new building, etc.), or teams or groups organized to accomplish a result for an internal or external customer. A process produces a product or service for internal or external customers, and usually cuts across multiple subsystems. Examples of processes are market research to identify customer needs, product design, product development, budget development, customer service, financial planning and management, program development, etc. The final domain is that of employee performance management. The term domain is not widespread across performance management literature.

Results

These are usually the final and specific outputs desired from the domain. Results are often expressed as products or services for an internal or external customers, but not always. They may be in terms of financial accomplishments, impact on a community, etc. Results are expressed in terms of cost, quality, quantity or time.

Measures

Measures provide specific information used to assess the extent of accomplishment of results. Measurements are typically expressed in terms of time, quantity, quality or cost. Results are a form of measure.

Indicators

Indicators are also measures. They indicate progress (or lack of) toward a result. For example, some indicators of an employee's progress toward achieving preferred results might be some measure of an employee's learning (usually expressed in terms of areas of knowledge or specific skills) and productivity (usually measured in terms of some number of outputs per time interval). (Note that learning and productivity alone do not guarantee accomplishment of performance results.)

Organization's Preferred Goals

These are usually overall accomplishments desired by an organization and are often established during strategic planning. The level of specificity of goals depends on the nature and needs of the organizations. Typically, the more specific the goals, the clearer the understanding of goals by the members of the organization.

Organization's Preferred Results

The performance management process often includes translating organizational goals to be in terms of results, which themselves are described in terms of quantity, quality, timeliness or cost.

Aligning Results

Performance management puts strong focus on ensuring that all parts of the organization are working as efficiently and effectively as possible toward achieving organizational results. Therefore, the results of all parts of the organization should be aligned with the overall preferred results of the organization. Aligning results often includes answering questions such as "Does the domain's preferred results contribute to achieving the organization's preferred results? How? Is there anything else that the domain could be doing to contribute more directly to the organization's goals?"

Weighting Results

Weighting results refers to prioritizing the domain's preferred results, often expressed in terms of a ranking (such as 1, 2, 3, etc.), percentage-time-spent, etc.

Standards

These specify how well a preferred result should be achieved by the domain. For example, "meets expectations" or "exceeds expectations".

Performance Plan

The plan usually includes at least the domain's preferred results, how the results tie back to the organization's preferred results, weighting of results, how results will be measured and what standards are used to evaluate results.

Ongoing Observation, Measurements and Feedback

These activities include observing the domain's activities in terms of progress toward preferred results, comparing progress to the preferred performance standards and then providing ongoing feedback (useful, understood and timely information to improve performance) to the domain.

Performance Appraisal (or Review)

In its most basic form, performance appraisal (or review) activities include documenting achieved results (hopefully, by also including use of examples to clarify documentation) and indicating if standards were met or not. The appraisal usually includes some form of a development plan to address insufficient performance. (More about this plan below.)

Rewards

The performance review process usually adds information about rewarding the employee(s) if performance met or exceeded standards. Rewards can take many forms, e.g., merit increases, promotions, certificates of appreciation, letters of commendation, etc.

Performance Gap

This represents the difference in actual performance shown as compared to the desired standard of performance. In employee performance management efforts, this performance gap is often described in terms of needed knowledge and skills which become training and development goals for the employee.

Performance Development Plan

Typically, this plan conveys how the conclusion was made that there was inadequate performance, what actions are to be taken and by whom and when, when performance will be reviewed again and how. Note that a development plan for employee performance management may be initiated for various reasons other than poor performance. (More on this later in Development Plan.)


Submit a link


For the Category of Performance Management:

To round out your knowledge of this Library topic, you may want to review some related topics, available from the link below. Each of the related topics includes free, online resources.

Also, scan the Recommended Books listed below. They have been selected for their relevance and highly practical nature.

Related Library Topics

Recommended Books



General Information -- Books About General Topic of Performance Management

Leadership and Supervision in Business - Book Cover Field Guide to Leadership and Supervision in Business
by Carter McNamara, published by Authenticity Consulting, LLC.
Includes step-by-step guidelines, tips and tools to effectively lead:
1. Yourself
2. Other individuals in the business
3. Groups and teams in the business
4. Business organizations
5. As well as all functions within the business organization.

Many of the Library's materials about business, leadership and management are adapted from this book. Just click on the title of the book above to see the Index and Table of Contents.
Leadership and Supervision With Nonprofit Staff - Book Cover Field Guide to Leadership and Supervision With Nonprofit Staff
by Carter McNamara, published by Authenticity Consulting, LLC.
Includes step-by-step guidelines, tips and tools customized for personnel in nonprofits to effectively lead:
1. Yourself
2. Other individuals in the nonprofit
3. Groups and teams in the nonprofit
4. Nonprofit organizations
5. As well as all functions within the nonprofit organization.

Many of the Library's materials about nonprofit leadership and management are adapted from this book. Just click on the title of the book above to see the Index and Table of Contents.

To get more information about each of the following practical books, just click on the image of the book. Also, a "bubble" of information might be displayed. You can click on the title of the book in that bubble to get more information, too.

Also see

For Your Own Performance Management
Personal Productivity -- Recommended Books

For Employee Performance Management
Supervision -- Related Books

For Group Performance Management
Facilitation and Teams -- Recommended Books

For Organizational Performance Management
Organizational Development -- Recommended Books

For Nonprofit Organizational Performance Management
Nonprofit Capacity Building -- Recommended Books




Find a Topic