Managers use employee performance strategies to ensure their direct reports make the right contributions to the department. All employees must collaborate with the manager to help the department satisfy its share of the organization’s goals. The organization may require all managers to use performance strategies based on a certain model of performance management, such as the knowledge-based model or the behavior-based model of performance management. Although the performance management model may conflict with their own leadership style, managers infuse their style into their daily interactions with employees. This article describes the knowledge-based model, the behavior-based model, the input-based model, the output-based model, and the hybrid model of performance management.

Knowledge-Based Model

Managers can use a knowledge-based model to manage employee performance. When managers evaluate employees based on what they know and how they use what they know, employees are more likely to be receptive to the introduction of new technologies and the ways managers evaluate their use of technologies. For example, employees apply their knowledge of technologies, policies and procedures, company resources, and external resources to solve problems in their jobs. Employees also share knowledge by suggesting ideas, collaborating in brainstorming sessions, communicating with customers, and providing training to others.

Managers evaluate employees in the knowledge-based model of performance management using statements or indicators of the acquisition, application, or sharing of knowledge. In some cases, employees might be evaluated for their ability to increase the knowledge capital of the organization (such as by contributing innovative business strategies, creating training tools, or inventing new technologies).

Behavior-Based Model

Managers can use a behavior-based model to manage employee performance. In this model, the employee receives a list of professional competencies for the position. These competencies are used from the beginning of the hiring process through employee evaluation with the goal of getting employees to demonstrate the desired behaviors.

On the performance evaluation, professional competencies are rated according to a Likert scale. This scale is standardized throughout the evaluation document—e.g. a 1-5 scale with 1 for the highest rating and 5 for the lowest rating.

A professional competency describes a behavior, such as being on time to work, or a task, such as helping a customer with a problem. The employee’s behavior includes appropriate conduct and performance. Managers focus on giving feedback to the employee so a change in behavior will result in improved work performance.

Gary Dessler, author of Human Resource Management (2005), uses the example of a grocery cashier to describe how employees are rated by their behavior on a performance evaluation. Behaviors expected of the cashier might be in areas like “skill in operation of register” and “skill in monetary transactions.” Behavior statements describe critical incidents for each area of behavior. For example, the grocery clerk might be rated in knowledge of the job with a behavior statement like the following—“by knowing the price of items, this checker would be expected to look for mismarked and unmarked items” (Dessler, 2005).

Based on monitoring, managers use feedback, coaching, evaluation, and recognition to help employees improve in meeting the behavior statements in their professional competencies. For example, the grocery cashier might need additional training in how to use the four-digit codes for weighing fruits and vegetables. Increasing the pace at which he enters the four-digit code for produce placed on the scale helps him to improve in more than one area of performance. He improves his speed at scanning groceries and his accuracy in charging the customer the right price.

Input-Based and Output-Based Models

Two other models for managing employee performance involve monitoring employee inputs or outputs. When managers monitor inputs, they focus on what occurs before employees perform their jobs, including HR functions like writing the position description, recruiting, selection, and training. These inputs occur before the employee’s period of evaluation begins.

When managers monitor outputs, they create targets or outcomes for employees instead of monitoring their compliance with operational procedures. Here is an example of a target—the employee must answer 20 customer phone calls in each 8-hour workday. Managers monitoring outputs might also focus on helping the employee increase outputs rather than going back to the input side to control performance. Just because managers do not monitor inputs does not mean they cannot offer them, such as offering more training.

Hybrid Model

A hybrid model represents a combination of models, including knowledge-based, behavior-based, input-based, and output-based models. Combining models of performance management creates more flexibility for managers to choose what to monitor and evaluate. Using a hybrid model, managers must still offer support to employees after providing specific details about the objectives, outputs, measures, behaviors, or competencies that will be used to evaluate their work.

Managers can manage human performance according to their employer’s performance management model. They can also use their own experience to help employees meet their job expectations.