What you need to know about a company’s performance management plan before accepting a job offer

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According to a 2015 North American workforce report by Learnkit, nearly 89% of employees in North America believe their employer should support their professional learning and development—with over 66% valuing learning over monetary compensation. It wouldn’t be far fetched then to suggest that the best-performing companies are rooted in an engaged workforce—including feeling supported and encouraged to learn, grow, and push yourself professionally.

In order to ensure you’re fulfilled in a new job or department, it’s imperative to get an understanding of how your managers or colleagues conduct and view performance management. Many companies start and end with a simple once-a-year performance review, but an annual employee evaluation is just the tip of the iceberg. Here, we’ve pulled together the key factors you should be looking for when it comes to a company’s performance management plan.

Identify the purpose of your performance management plan

What is the point of performance evaluations in the mind of your future employer? Are they doing it for administrative reasons? To measure overall performance? Healthy performance management should first and foremost be to help both the employer and the employee find a flow of consistent improvement—a designated system to help plan for, uncover, and improve upon what the employee is already doing well or working to improve upon. You may want to consider it a red flag if they’re not passionate about improvement and only holding employee evaluations to comply with the law.

Measurement

How is your future employer measuring their employee’s performance reviews? In order to remain engaged and challenged in the workplace, employees need quality, consistent feedback on their performance regularly. This helps both employers and employees get a grasp on their skills and strong suits as well as the parts of the job they need to improve on. Consistent measurement is key here, so employees can properly track their own improvements and career progression.

Performance review

Furthermore, while the performance review is not everything, the concept is still an integral part of a good performance management system. Many employees look at the performance review as something to stress about—the last hurdle to overcome before getting a raise or a strict talking to. However, a good performance review should be a collaborative effort between employer and employee rather than an interrogation. It should take an honest look at the employee’s development within the company and act as the stepping stones for another year of growth.

Goal-setting

How your employer approaches goal-setting can make or break the next steps in your professional career. You should understand your expectations and where you fit in the company, but you should also be actively encouraged to set goals to improve your skillset and take advantage of any growth opportunities within the company. Your future manager should actively participate in helping you create and quantify your goals by using motivating, tangible objectives and moving away from simply using percentage points or monetary values.

Management and coaching

Identifying gaps in your skillset is great—but it’s not the most effective for managers to leave their employees with problems without helping come up with a solution or gameplan. Along with helping you create and quantify your goals, a good manager should also be available to help light your way with guidance and coaching. Does your prospective company offer in-house coaching or professional development? Are there regular meetings or lunch-and-learn events to discuss leadership and other important skills? If the company hires external coaches and experts for their employees, it’s usually a strong sign that they’re invested in their employees’ growth—outside of just numbers on a spreadsheet.

Recognition of talent and work ethic

Working with employees to ensure optimal professional growth is great, but an emphasis on recognition is vital to ensure employees feel valued whether receiving positive or negative feedback. In a recent Gallup workplace survey, surveyed employees revealed that public recognition or acknowledgment via an award or certificate was worth more to them than monetary recognition—but a healthy company should offer a variety of recognition that includes both praise and monetary incentives.