The Key to Performance Management on the Front Line

The Key to Performance Management on the Front Line

In an earlier blog post, we outlined a process that can be used for coaching employees. As a brief overview, the AEU LEAD coaching model has three distinct objectives:

  • Communicate expectations
  • Ensure understanding
  • Gain alignment between expectations and outcomes

This model is highly dependent upon interaction and engagement with direct reports. It’s an ongoing process intended to clarify expectations and verify alignment between them and outcomes.

As a continuation of the earlier article on coaching, this article covers performance management. Closely related and often confused, coaching and performance management are separate functions, with different processes and purposes.


What’s the difference between coaching and performance management?

Coaching is a process used to provide direction, ensure understanding, and gain alignment on expectations and desired outcomes involving a task. It’s a highly collaborative, ongoing process that’s often casual and informal.

Coaching answers questions regarding the task at hand. Examples include, but aren’t limited to:

  • What does the scope of work involve?
  • When is it needed?
  • What precautions should I take?
  • Where do I store project materials?
  • Do field modifications require authorization?
  • How do I contact the client?

Performance management involves a feedback process involving an individual. It’s intended to reinforce or modify actions and behaviors. Typically, performance management is a bit more structured and involves a degree of formality that coaching doesn’t.

Performance management answers questions regarding the individual:

  • How am I doing?
  • Am I meeting expectations?
  • What are my strengths?
  • Where do you see opportunities for me to improve?
  • What are the specific actions I need to take?
  • What’s the timeframe for needed improvements?
  • What sort of support can I get to help me make needed improvements?
  • What are the consequences of not making the needed improvements?

Performance management is essential for the long-term success of employees

As noted, performance management practices are often structured and administered at regular intervals. Many organizations have written policies that clearly outline processes to follow, including expectations involving documentation and filing. As a supervisor, it’s critically important that you know and understand how feedback is to be provided to direct reports. It’s also important that you follow prescribed frequencies for doing so.

Not only is performance management essential for employees to succeed, but it’s also a differentiator for organizations. Those who do it well have a clear competitive advantage over those that don’t.

As a supervisor, give the process and the performance of the individual the attention deserved. Be honest and transparent in the feedback you provide. While the process of doing so may be awkward and difficult at times, it’s a necessary means of overcoming barriers that limit personal growth involving the employee. More than anything, remember the process is intended to help. Done properly, it conveys a message of caring. Over time, it demonstrates your capacity to lead people, not just manage tasks or processes.

This article originally appeared in the AEU LEAD blog on June 3, 2019.

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