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Blog > The Performance Management Cycle

The Performance Management Cycle

posted on Jan 17, 2018

by Maria Lahiffe

Performance Management is the process of helping staff, either paid or unpaid, to do high-calibre work which meets both their own needs and the needs of the organization they are working for. It can be considered to form a cycle: [1]


Organizational Goal Setting

It is the job of your board and senior management to develop strategic objectives for your organization. It is your job, with their guidance, to break down those objectives into actionable functions and ultimately into job tasks. Here is a blog post which explains the process.

Individual Goal Setting

Individuals may wish to set goals for themselves in their jobs. For example, someone supporting fundraising efforts may set a goal to raise a certain amount of money, or someone else may set a goal to develop certain skills on the job. The goals need to be grounded in the job description, and are best set by the staff member or volunteer herself, in consultation with her manager.

Ongoing Supervision and Monitoring

The manager should pay attention to what the volunteer is accomplishing, and how he is doing it. It is important to point out things that he is doing well, so that he can continue doing them, and provide guidance to help him improve if necessary.

It is important for feedback to be respectful and timely. Focus on behaviours and keep it to things the volunteer has control over. Compare the behaviours you observe with those which are outlined in the job description.

Feedback is a two-way process. You have a perspective on what your staff and volunteers are doing well, and how they can improve. In the same way, your staff and volunteers have a similar perspective on you and your organization. Seek that feedback on a regular basis.

Ongoing Performance Reviews

A long-term volunteer deserves regular performance reviews, where the purpose of the meeting is to discuss accomplishments and needs, and to set new goals for the future. At a performance review, the manager and the volunteer can also discuss any training needs which would help the volunteer be more successful in her role, or help her grow into new roles if desired.

This meeting is also an opportunity for the volunteer to evaluate the performance of her manager in providing the support and guidance necessary to be successful in the job. It is very important to ask for this feedback.

Process Improvement

Reflect on how volunteers are performing compared with your expectations and organizational needs. What is going well? What needs improvement? What can you do as an individual to address the areas of need? What needs to happen at an organizational level to empower and enable volunteers to perform at their best?

This reflection can feed into improvement of HR processes, and to clarification of organizational goals.

Want to learn more? Come to an upcoming workshop.

Click here for more information, and to register.

Volunteer Ottawa offers a comprehensive suite of courses related to volunteer management. Click here for more information, and to register. Subscribe to our Event RSS Feed to be among the first to know when a new workshop is added to the schedule.

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Related Posts:

[1] K. Seel, Volunteer Administration: Professional Practice, 3rd ed., K. Steel, Ed., Lexus Nexus Canada, 2016. [2] Volunteer Canada, "A Matter of Design: Job design theory and application to the voluntary sector," 2001. [Online]. Available:
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