The role of performance management in managing talent

What is talent management and performance management?

Talent management and performance management are interlinked. Although the process and activities involved in each of them are different, they share the same targeted outcomes for the individual and the service.


Talent management is a broader activity, while performance management is just one of the many tasks that lives under the umbrella of talent management.


Talent management ensures that we have the people with the right skills, behaviours and values in the right role at the right time.


Performance management measures employee performance based on feedback and metrics, engaging employees to improve performance and accomplish organisational or service goals. It usually also includes a focus on the organisational values, behaviours or the Core Code of Ethics for Fire and Rescue Services.



The objective of performance management when managing talent is to build a high-performance culture where individuals take responsibility for performance and improvement.



Benefits of performance management


For employees, performance management:

·         Clarifies the description and success criteria for each role

·         Ensures that everyone understands the importance of their contributions towards the organisational and service goals and objectives

·         Motivates better performance

·         Enhances personal insight and self-awareness (through feedback)

·         Provides clear development needs

·         Rewards and recognises high performance and the right behaviours

For managers, performance management:

·         Clearly conveys line-manager views of performance and behavioural expectations

·         Provides opportunities for feedback regarding individual employees

·         Allows better differentiation between high and low performers

·         Results in more competent employees

·         Allows early identification of potential within the team

·         Gives opportunities to signpost learning and development opportunities

For the service, performance management:

·         Clarifies and supports the achievement of organisational and service goals for each employee

·         Facilitates change

·         Promotes appropriate and fairer actions

·         Enhances effective communication throughout the service

·         Rewards and recognises top performers

·         Allows support for those individuals not performing

·         Drives a culture change through a focus on organisational values, behaviours and the Core Code of Ethics for Fire and Rescue Services


When looking specifically at managing talent, the objectives of performance management are:

  • Driving employees towards achievement of improved standards of performance and behavioural expectations
  • Supporting employees to identify the knowledge and skills required to perform the job efficiently
  • Encouraging empowerment
  • Supporting the implementation of effective reward and recognition processes
  • Promoting a two-way system of communication between management and the employees for clarifying expectations, roles and accountabilities, functional and organisational/service goals
  • Allowing for regular and transparent feedback to improve employee performance
  • Identifying the barriers to effective performance and overcoming those barriers through constant monitoring, training and development interventions
  • Promoting personal growth in the career of the employees by helping or supporting them to acquire the desired knowledge and skills
  • Increasing the self-esteem of the employees and enhancing their self-insight and development
  • Identifying and nurturing individual talents


Performance management approaches

Performance management is about creating a culture which encourages the continuous improvement of individuals’ skills, behaviours and contributions to the service.


The elements of performance management may be similar across different services and organisations, but the methods will vary. Although there is no single ideal approach, at its best, performance management is a holistic set of processes, centred on a two-way discussion and regular, frank, yet supportive feedback of progress towards objectives.


Performance management is a continuous cycle, not an isolated event. There are different ways of depicting this process, including difference elements, but they should all include the following activities:


service goals and values

Figure 1: Performance management cycle

Each service should develop approaches that are relevant to their own specific context and their actual (or desired) organisational culture. The activities below may be useful:


Regular and timely feedback Effective and timely feedback is a critical component of successful performance management.

The NFCC has produced a number of documents on giving and receiving feedback, which can be accessed through the Talent Management Toolkit.

One-to-ones One-to-ones strengthen relationships between line managers and their team members, and also encourage frequent performance check-ins.


When linked to talent management, they are also an opportunity to focus on an individual’s development needs, aspirations, motivations and opportunities for progression.

Continuous development A key part of performance management is reviewing current performance and identifying development opportunities to enhance an employee’s performance in their current role.


Identifying opportunities for development and progression is a key part of talent management activities. Performance reviews are a great place to begin and continue these conversations.

Performance reviews* Performance reviews (also called appraisals) form part of a holistic approach to managing performance. The value of annual reviews has increasingly been challenged in recent years* in favour of more regular conversations, but even so, performance appraisal remains a crucial aspect of the performance management cycle.

When linked to talent management, a performance review should include a focus on development areas, motivations and career aspirations.

Systems An effective performance management system can play a crucial role in managing the performance in a service because it:

·         Provides clear accountabilities for each step of the process

·         Realises cost advantages

·         Facilitates an easy-to-manage and consistent process

·         Provides real-time HR/people data and management information (MI) (e.g. monitoring completion rates for performance reviews)


When linked to talent management, an effective performance management system can capture and monitor development needs and opportunities, link to competencies and requirements for future roles and feed into a services succession plan.

Policies, processes and frameworks Performance management integrates various HR activities. Therefore, an overarching structure or framework could be useful to bring the different elements together. It could include various different policies, documentation, reporting, processes and support materials.


This framework would also link to your wider talent management policies and processes, including workforce and succession plans.


* The CIPD reports that there has been much debate in recent years about whether traditional approaches to appraisal are fit for purpose. Some have argued that performance management should be abandoned wholesale, but often the detail of what is proposed as an alternative does not match the rhetoric of such headline-grabbing statements. Typically, the practical changes recommended revise or overhaul performance management, rather than scrapping it. All, however, agree on the importance of ongoing conversations between the team member and their line manager. More information can be found in organisational culture.