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Longshore Insider
The Key to Performance Management on the Front Line
Jun 8, 2020 - Joe White, AEU LEAD

In an earlier blog post, we outlined a process that can be used for coaching employees. As a brief overview, the AEU LEAD coaching model has three distinct objectives:

  • Communicate expectations
  • Ensure understanding
  • Gain alignment between expectations and outcomes

This model is highly dependent upon interaction and engagement with direct reports. It’s an ongoing process intended to clarify expectations and verify alignment between them and outcomes.

As a continuation of the earlier article on coaching, this article covers performance management. Closely related and often confused, coaching and performance management are separate functions, with different processes and purposes.


What’s the difference between coaching and performance management?

Coaching is a process used to provide direction, ensure understanding, and gain alignment on expectations and desired outcomes involving a task. It’s a highly collaborative, ongoing process that’s often casual and informal.

Coaching answers questions regarding the task at hand. Examples include, but aren’t limited to:

  • What does the scope of work involve?
  • When is it needed?
  • What precautions should I take?
  • Where do I store project materials?
  • Do field modifications require authorization?
  • How do I contact the client?

Performance management involves a feedback process involving an individual. It’s intended to reinforce or modify actions and behaviors. Typically, performance management is a bit more structured and involves a degree of formality that coaching doesn’t.

Performance management answers questions regarding the individual:

  • How am I doing?
  • Am I meeting expectations?
  • What are my strengths?
  • Where do you see opportunities for me to improve?
  • What are the specific actions I need to take?
  • What’s the timeframe for needed improvements?
  • What sort of support can I get to help me make needed improvements?
  • What are the consequences of not making the needed improvements?

Performance management is essential for the long-term success of employees

As noted, performance management practices are often structured and administered at regular intervals. Many organizations have written policies that clearly outline processes to follow, including expectations involving documentation and filing. As a supervisor, it’s critically important that you know and understand how feedback is to be provided to direct reports. It’s also important that you follow prescribed frequencies for doing so.

Not only is performance management essential for employees to succeed, but it’s also a differentiator for organizations. Those who do it well have a clear competitive advantage over those that don’t.

As a supervisor, give the process and the performance of the individual the attention deserved. Be honest and transparent in the feedback you provide. While the process of doing so may be awkward and difficult at times, it’s a necessary means of overcoming barriers that limit personal growth involving the employee. More than anything, remember the process is intended to help. Done properly, it conveys a message of caring. Over time, it demonstrates your capacity to lead people, not just manage tasks or processes.

This article originally appeared in the AEU LEAD blog on June 3, 2019.



As Director of AEU LEAD, Joe White focuses on helping members transform operational goals into actionable plans through a structured change management process. Prior to joining AEU, Joe was a senior consultant for E.I. DuPont’s consulting division, DuPont Sustainable Solutions (DSS). He joined DSS in 2011 to develop the next generation of safety practices using extensive research in behavioral sciences he’s compiled over a period of nearly two decades. His efforts resulted in the development of The Risk Factor, which is now the flagship instructor-led offering for the consulting division. Combined, Joe has 26 years of operational safety experience, the majority of which was with DuPont. Joe has been published in Occupational Health & Safety Magazine for his prominent work in safety relative to behavioral and neurosciences and is an event speaker at many leading industry conferences including National Safety Council (NSC) Congress and Expos, American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), and National Maritime Safety Association (NMSA). Joe is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University and has a B.S., in Safety and Risk Administration.

The opinions and comments expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not reflect the opinion of ALMA, AEU or Amwins. None of ALMA, AEU, Amwins or the authors are responsible for any inaccuracy of content or for any loss or damages incurred by any party as a result of reliance on information contained in this article. Content may not be published or reproduced without the written consent of the authors. Prior articles may not be updated for accuracy as pertinent information changes over time. The Longshore Insider is intended to provide general information about the industry and should not be construed as legal advice under any circumstances. For legal advice, please consult a licensed attorney.
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