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Performance Management Cycle



Performance management involves much more than just assigning ratings. It is a continuous cycle that involves:

  • Planning work in advance so that expectations and goals can be set;
  • Monitoring progress and performance continually;
  • Developing the employee's ability to perform through training and work assignments;
  • Rating periodically to summarize performance and,
  • Rewarding good performance.

image of Cycle of Performance Management includes Planning, Monitoring, Developing, Rating, Rewarding


"Planning" means setting performance expectations and goals for groups and individuals to channel their efforts toward achieving organizational objectives. It also includes the measures that will be used to determine whether expectations and goals are being met. Involving employees in the planning process helps them understand the goals of the organization, what needs to be done, why it needs to be done, and how well it should be done.

Staff Recommendations
A Handbook for Measuring Employee Performance: Aligning Employee Performance Plans with Organizational Goals Describes a method for developing employee performance plans that are aligned with and support organizational goals using an 8-step process. Provides guidelines for writing performance elements and standards along with hands-on exercises to give users a chance to practice their new skills.
Improved Performance Starts with Planning I Addresses performance planning through setting performance goals and determining what needs to be done to reach them. Considers the results of goal-setting studies as reported by Edwin A. Locke, University of Maryland, and Gary P. Latham, University of Washington.
Improved Performance Starts with Planning II Addresses goal setting at the individual level.
Improved Performance Starts with Planning III Addresses planning for group performance by setting goals at the group level.
Improved Performance Starts with Planning IV Provides suggestions for avoiding dangers and pitfalls when planning work and setting goals. The information contained in this article was taken from "Goal Setting: A Motivational Technique That Works."
Advice and Guidance
Appraisal Design Information Sheet Summarizes the Appraisal Design document and focuses on the key aspects of designing an appraisal program.
Appraisal Design Provides detailed information on designing appraisal programs.
Appraisal Program Design Provides guidance for designing an employee performance appraisal program.
Appraisal Systems and Appraisal Programs Describes the differences between employee appraisal systems and employee appraisal programs.
Evaluating Performance Appraisal Programs: an Article Provides guidance for conducting ongoing program evaluation.
Performance Management Competencies: Communication Skills Explains why it is important for managers to possess excellent communication skills and why they are essential for effective performance management.
Telecommuting Requires Topnotch Performance Management Describes how supervisors can maintain employee performance levels in a telecommuting environment.
Performance Plans
A Checklist for Performance Plans Uses a series of questions to present criteria for designing performance plans based on sound management principles that comply with law and regulations.
Developing Performance Standards Reviews the principles of writing good performance standards to appraise employee performance.
Using the Building Blocks of Employee Performance Plans Reviews the characteristics of performance elements, including: critical elements, non-critical elements, and additional performance elements.
What to Avoid When Writing Standards Defines "retention" standards, discusses the basic requirements for these standards, and highlights some of the things you should avoid when writing them.
Performance Management Competencies: Setting Goals Discusses goal setting competencies for supervisors and reviews recommendations made in two publications.
Using Customer Service Goals to Energize Support Organizations Describes the efforts of one support organization to link to their agency's strategic goals and how they choose to communicate their organizational goals to customers and employees.
Linking to Organizational Goals
Organizational Goals Can Be Powerful Energizers Describes how strategic goals and objectives can be used to improve employee performance.
Performance Agreements Lead to Improved Organizational Results Describes the benefits three agencies gained by using results-oriented performance agreements with their agency leaders and executives.

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"Monitoring" means consistently measuring performance and providing ongoing feedback to employees and work groups on their progress toward reaching their goals. Ongoing monitoring provides the opportunity to check how employees are doing and to identify and resolve any problems early.

Staff Recommendations
Dealing With the Marginal Performer Reviews the reasons it's important to address marginal performance and provides tips for supervisors who want to help marginal performers improve.
Feedback is Critical to Improving Performance Describes the critical components of effective and timely feedback, how they contribute to a successful performance management program, and how they should be used in conjunction with setting performance goals.
Performance-Based Actions Discusses issues dealing with performance-based actions (the reduction in grade or removal of an employee based solely on performance).

Advice and Guidance
Communicate! Communicate! Dr. Joseph Greenberg, Professor of Education at George Washington University, provides guidance and suggestions for improving communication effectiveness.
Supervisors in the Federal Government: A Wake-Up Call Reviews an OPM study of the status of agencies' efforts to select, develop, and evaluate first-level supervisors.
The Power of Positive Feedback Highlights Bob Nelson's "Making Effective Use of Employee Recognition." Describes the value of positive feedback, immediate recognition, informal recognition, and provides suggestions for designing effective recognition programs.
Valuing Employee Performance - An Important Aspect of Performance Culture Describes formal and informal methods to ensure employees know that the agency values employee performance.


"Developing" means increasing the capacity to perform through training, giving assignments that introduce new skills or higher level of responsibility, improving work processes, or other methods. Development efforts can encourage and strengthen good performance and help employees keep up with changes in the workplace.

Staff Recommendations
Formula for Maximizing Performance Explains how organizations and employees must have both the capacity and the commitment to perform in order to achieve good performance.
Implementing FCAT-M Performance Management Competencies: Understanding Performance Management Process and Practices Explains why it is important for supervisors to have a good understanding of the performance management process and their agency practices.
Implementing FCAT-M Performance Management Competencies: Performance Coaching and Feedback Second in a series of articles that describes supervisory competencies. Explains why it is important for supervisors to possess good coaching skills and be able to provide their employees effective feedback.
Implementing FCAT-M Performance Management Competencies: Facilitating Performance Third article in a series that describes supervisory competencies. Explains why the ability to initiate and the skill to guide employees toward performance goals are important to today's supervisors.
Implementing FCAT-M Performance Management Competencies: Differentiating Performance Fourth in a series that describes supervisory competencies. Explains why supervisors need to become experts in establishing performance plans that allow them to make meaningful distinctions in levels of performance.
Implementing FCAT-M Performance Management Competencies: Building Performance Culture Last in a series of articles that describes supervisory competencies. Describes highly specialized skills and abilities a manager must possess to effectively deal with employee performance in a high performing work unit.


"Rating" means evaluating employee or group performance against the elements and standards in an employee's performance plan, summarizing that performance, and assigning a rating of record.

Staff Recommendations
360-Degree Assessment: An Overview An overview of the use of 360-degree feedback. Includes discussion on sources of input, privacy issues, questions, and answers.
A Supervisor's Checklist for Preparing for Employee Performance Reviews Provides a checklist for supervisors to use when preparing for employee performance reviews.

Advice and Guidance
Crediting Performance for Reduction in Force Explains the requirements and explores flexibilities for assigning retention credit for performance in a reduction in force.
Using Electronic Signatures in Performance Appraisal Programs Describes OPM's electronic signature requirements for automated performance appraisals.
Balancing Individual and Team Measures The National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Mo., shares its experience with moving to a new performance management program designed to strike a balance between appraising individual and team performance.
Multi-Rater Appraisal: Confidentiality and Personal Privacy Explains the impact of the Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act on 360-degree assessments.


"Rewarding" means providing incentives to and recognition of employees, individually and as members of groups, for their performance and acknowledging their contributions to the agency's mission. There are many ways to acknowledge good performance, from a sincere "Thank You!" for a specific job well done to granting the highest level, agency-specific honors and establishing formal cash incentive and recognition award programs.

Staff Recommendations
Title Description
Award Restrictions During Presidential Election Periods Explains when a Presidential election period is and the restrictions for granting awards to political appointees during this time period.
GPO Rider Information for Ordering Career Service and Retirement Certificates Provides information on ordering career service and retirement certificates.
Guide to Processing Awards Requiring OPM Approval Provides guidance and establishes procedures for requesting approval of cash awards over $10,000 and the President's Award for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service.
The President's Award for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service Provides information on the President's Award for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service (PADFCS), nomination criteria and procedures.
Tax Issues for Awards Addresses the impact of various tax laws on the Government's awards program and focuses on awards given under the Governmentwide authority found in chapter 45 of title 5, U. S. Code.
Advice and Guidance
Title Description
Agencies Can Use Referral Bonuses To Support Recruitment and Hiring Explains how agencies can use referral bonuses to help recruit and hire new employees.
Grossing Up Awards: Why and Why Not Defines "grossing up" award amounts, addresses whether it's a good idea, and discusses monitoring and managing the true value of awards.
Keys to Effective Group Incentive Programs Discusses the design features of a group incentive program and explains the different types of group incentives.
Criteria for Referral Bonuses Describes criteria for using referral bonuses and factors agencies should consider when establishing a referral bonus program.
A Supervisor's Quick Review of Awards Presents forms of, and bases for, awards and some things supervisors must consider when deciding to grant an award to an employee or group of employees.
Reporting Awards Data to OPM Explains data reporting requirements to assist agencies in reporting awards data accurately to OPM.
Time-Off Awards Provides an in-depth explanation of time-off awards: the legal authorities, eligibility criteria, basis, major features, and advantages and disadvantages for granting this form of award.
Using "Cash Surrogates" to Deliver Cash Awards Explains the concept of cash surrogates and how they can be used as awards.
Using Referral Bonuses Explains the differences between a referral bonus and recruitment incentives.  Also provides answers to questions agencies most commonly ask when considering establishing a referral bonus program.

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Nonmonetary Awards
Title Description
Awards Ceremony Suggestions Provides suggestions about award ceremonies in the Federal Government.
Ceremony Has Its Own Recognition Value Addresses the value that ceremonies and honors have for individuals and organizations.
Using "Nonmonetary Items" as Incentive Awards Presents the criteria that must be met and the authorization for this type of award, including an explanation of how Savings Bonds fit into this award category.
Prohibition on Use of Promotional Items – “Swag” Addresses the distinction between nonmonetary awards and promotional items.
Rating-based Awards
Title Description
Approaches to Calculating Performance-Based Cash Awards Describes how different types of awards typically used to recognize performance captured in the rating of record can be used to meet the regulatory requirement to make meaningful distinctions based on performance.
Quality Step Increases: Timing Matters Explains why timing does matter and the factors involved when granting an employee a quality step increase.
Quality Step Increases: Know the Costs Describes the long term cost implications of granting quality step increases (QSIs).

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