Performance Management

Performance Management encompasses all interactions between supervisors or managers and employees that relate to performance. This includes regular performance reviews, designing learning and development plans, managing attendance issues, and any required disciplinary discussions.  The goal is to provide employees with feedback and support to perform their job to the best of their ability.

An effective performance management process will benefit a business with:

  • Increased productivity as problems are identified early.
  • Increased safety as knowledge and training are accessed regularly.
  • Increased engagement as employees are more motivated.
  • Increased retention rates as regular conversations are supportive and focused on individual growth

Performance Reviews

Is there any doubt that performance reviews is the least liked component of the Performance Management process and can contribute to unnecessary stress in the workplace. It is made all the more complex for manufacturers due to the types of tasks and roles in a production environment, the fast-paced nature of the operations and the difficulty in building a review process that is effective. Supervisors and managers can feel overwhelmed by the amount of paperwork involved in the process and employees see it as disconnected from their contributions made on a daily basis.  However, a streamlined performance review process designed to be delivered consistently and continuously,  with regular opportunities to identify strengths and weaknesses will result in increased productivity, safety and employee retention.

An effective performance review measures the employee’s work and achievements against stated goals and objectives and accesses gaps in knowledge and training.  It acknowledges accomplishments and gives concrete and specific feedback on the employees’ performance, including on the quality of work completed, the speed of work done and frequency of mistakes. Soft skills should also be included in the review, such as initiative, leadership, attitude and teamwork.

To gain as much constructive feedback as possible, Input and contributions into the completed review should come from a variety of sources:

  • First line manager or supervisor
  • Self-Appraisals
  • Safety Committee
  • Senior leaders or cross-functional leaders
  • Customers, if appropriate

Some businesses assign a grade to their evaluations such as unsatisfactory performance or meets expectations or exceeds expectations. This performance rating is  then used as a factor when making a base salary and / or variable pay decision.

Although the performance review process can seem complicated or time consuming, for small businesses it can be as simple as taking each employee’s job description and clearly outlining specific goals that should be achieved in a set time period. Having regular one-on-one conversations ensures that feedback is constructive and timely, and includes opportunities for the employee, as well, to pass along ideas for improvements. Younger generations in particular want to have more touchpoints with their managers and transparency about what they’re doing well and what they could improve (source BDC Advisory Services). Input for the A streamlined process, either done electronically or with minimal paperwork will ensure that both the manager and employee commit to participating in the sessions.

HR's Role

HR’s role in performance reviews can vary depending on the complexity of the process.  From an administrative perspective, HR would ensure that all performance  review related conversations are documented and added to the employee’s file. Where necessary, HR would also help to develop and design a process that fits the needs of the business.  They would also then promote the value of the process to supervisors and managers throughout the business. If coaching or training is required, for both the supervisors and managers and the employees, HR would be tasked with that as well.

Job Descriptions

The foundation of any Performance Management process is a job description, which is developed by the business and supplied to the employee during the Onboarding process. A job description contains a list of Accountabilities (tasks), and a list of Competencies. This is the “what and how” an employee should be doing in their job. Every individual within an organization needs a job description.

Although there are many different templates of a job description, an effective one will have a combination of the following 4 descriptive components:

  • Overall description of the role which would include who it reports to, how it fits into the team, and a description of the environment or workplace.
  • Accountabilities which are the tasks or the production outcomes that are required from the role
  • Competencies which describe how the work is to be done
  • Skills and Training Requirements which would include any certifications or specific training, such as safety training, needed for the role.

As part of the Workforce Development Project, competencies were developed specifically for the VAW industry and can be found here (link to Skilled Worker Training content).

If you have employees who have evolved into their current roles, make sure to update and define their Accountabilities and Competencies in a new job description prior to any Performance review. If the role falls within the National Occupational Classification system, content for the job description can be derived from the government listing.

HR's Role

HR would collaborate with supervisors and managers to ensure that the job descriptions on file reflect the full nature of the position.  Any updated job description should be distributed to the employee and the supervisor or manager for their approval.


One of the key metrics of performance is attendance, which is particularly important in a manufacturing workplace.  According to a study by Statistics Canada, the manufacturing sector’s absenteeism rates have steadily increased over the past few years and in 2023, the average absenteeism rate was 13.2 days per full-time employee, up from 9.9 days in 2018. (source Statistics Canada). Absenteeism reduces productivity, increases workload for other employees, and incurs potential overtime costs.

Manufacturing workplaces rely on consistent attendance, not simply for productivity, but for safety as well. Employers should have an attendance policy to ensure that employees come to work consistently and minimize absences and address issues like coming in late to work, leaving early, or missing work in the middle of the day.  It should also outline the procedures for how to request time off and inform on the various leave policies that are mandated through the Employment Standards Act of BC.

Managing attendance can be done with the following strategies:

  • Create an attendance policy and include it in the Employee Handbook
  • Talk about attendance during the Onboarding process and keep the conversation ongoing
  • Identify root causes within the workplace and work to correct them.
  • Set internal benchmarks for performance metrics
  • Reward good attendance
  • Communicate how to submit PTO or leave policies requests
  • Support and encourage vacation days
  • Seek feedback from employees on improving the policy
Tracking attendance

Having a reliable tracking system allows a business to monitor the attendance of their employees. Small and medium sized business have different options to consider tracking attendance, with varying levels of implementation costs and automation.

  • Timesheets: A traditional option of having employees fill out timesheets, either physical or online. This process can be time-consuming, and difficult to monitor in a business with shift work, or production in various locations.
  • Keycards: Many businesses use a keycard system where employees simply scan their cards to clock in or out and the system tracks time automatically.  
  • Time-tracking software: These programs can simplify payroll because they automate much of the process. If employees work on different projects that are billed or tracked differently, the software makes it easier to differentiate.  As well, various monitoring options, such as GPS or website tracking are available if needed.
  • Biometrics: This attendance tracking system requires a fingerprint, facial recognition, iris scan or similar data to clock in and out. Biometric data readers eliminate the possibility of ‘buddy punching’, where someone else clocks an employee in to make it look like they were on time.

HR's Role

Managers or supervisors are tasked with tracking attendance on a daily basis and identifying issues and addressing them with employees.  HR would ensure that the attendance policy reflects the values of the business and is clearly communicated to all employees.  HR would provide guidance, if needed, to supervisors and managers on addressing attendance problems, including providing data on an identified issue.

Learning & Development

An important component of the Performance Management process is the ability to design and implement personalized development plans that identify the employees’ strengths and areas for improvement. Skills-building programs, which can include formal training initiatives or coaching and mentorship opportunities, are an effective way to build engagement with the employee along with meeting the business’ growth objectives.  Training can be provided for specific job-related accountabilities or can extend out to training on leadership or conflict resolutions skills, or Safety initiatives like First Aid or Safety Committee participation. Focus on developing performance related SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time bound which should be documented and signed off on by both the manager and employee.  BDC provides some guidance on how to develop SMART Goals {link to Performance Management Goal Setting – BDC.pdf}. This then becomes the basis for the next performance review.

The Workforce Development Project has created two avenues to assist VAW employers in accessing training and skills development information –  the Work-Ready Training Program for Entry-Level Workers and the Skilled Worker Training for Production Workers.

HR's Role

HR would collaborate with supervisors and managers to ensure that the Learning and Development goals are documented and filed in the employee file. Arranging or scheduling formal training either internally or with an external provider would also fall to HR to manage.

Discipline Process and Terminations

Part of a business’ Performance Management program should include a clear progressive disciplinary process to address instances where an employee’s behavior falls outside expectations and/or breaks the regulations. This process should include verbal and written warnings and suspensions where applicable, before resorting to termination. Escalation between one level of the process to another should be communicated clearly by the manager and documented with a sign off by both the manager and the employee. Employers must also be clear when an employee’s behaviour could result in termination. The full progressive disciplinary process should be included in the Employee Handbook and discussed with a new employee during the Onboarding process. If any part of the disciplinary process is updated or changed, all employees should be given written notice.

The Employment Standards Act of BC outlines the minimum requirement for terminations whether for cause or not.  As most Employment lawyers would advise a business, the Act outlines the minimum requirement only. If faced with a potential contested or difficult termination, it is advisable to seek legal advice to understand what notice and/or compensation may be required.

Constructive dismissal is when an employee is not directly fired but is forced to either resign or to comply with fundamental changes to their working conditions, including drastic pay cuts or change in duties. When making these types of material changes to an employee’s circumstances, an employer must clearly communicate with the employee, provide adequate notice and compensation and get sign off by the employee.

HR's Role

HR must ensure compliance with both the stated disciplinary procedures and when applicable, the requirements under the Employment Standards Act of BC. HR can also be involved in discipline meetings to ensure a fair and respectful discussion and advise on next steps.