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Performance Management

Employers: before implementing any policies, please read our Introduction and Key Considerations.

Inclusive Performance Management: What does it mean?
  • Performance Management refers to a process of creating a work environment where people can perform to meet your business goals. Effective performance management addresses three key areas: developing employee’s skills and abilities, rewarding employees equitably, and driving your company’s performance. 

  • Inclusive performance management speaks to an overall approach that sets the tone around the values and expectations within your business.  This involves: ensuring that the expectations for each employee’s role are clearly communicated; assessing each employee’s performance specific to their contributions to your business, opposed to personal bias or assumptions; training managers or supervisors to spot their own bias; reinforcing inclusive behaviours at all levels of your business; and actively seeking feedback around your evaluation process, what constitutes good performance and if your employees feel supported to be successful at work. 

  • Performance management of people with a disability, like most stages of the hiring process, is not very different from the supervision of any other employee.

  • Employees with a disability must meet the same standards and requirements as others on job expectations, productivity, absenteeism, delays, conflicts, safety, etc. Despite this, managers must understand that employees cannot all be supervised in the same way.  Managers must be able to adapt the supervision of each employee to best meet the needs of the individual, supporting each employee to fully participate and achieve career growth.  

Why is it important?
  • After the hire, the focus shifts to employee retention. Each employee, whether they have a disability or not, is different. Creating a culture where all employees feel respected and appreciated requires some effort but will benefit all employees.

  • High performing organizations actively encourage employees to stay with them by providing guidance on current performance and opportunities for development.  Just like other employees, people with a disability are looking for positions that allow them to reach their full potential.

  • Most employees interpret ‘equity’ as being directly related to ‘fairness’. If an employee has an experience or belief that a workplace environment or system is unfair or biased, this can lead to job dissatisfaction and frustration. Inclusive performance management helps to mitigate this issue by seeking feedback around the evaluation process, along with what constitutes ‘good performance’ and what is needed to be successful at work. While studies indicate that a high percentage of employees who experience a disability are solid performers with strong attendance and safety records, fairness in relation to performance management processes continues to be of interest to all employees.  

  • Failure to apply appropriate management methods to ensure that an employee with a disability is appropriately supervised in a way that respects and accommodates their needs will increase the risk of minimizing their contribution, growth and career advancement.  Employers should be aware that some jurisdictions have special requirements in accessibility legislation pertaining to performance management, and failure to meet these requirements could create a legal liability. 

Sample Performance Management Policy

The following policy sample should be part of a larger performance evaluation and management policy. This larger policy should also address any legislatively mandated performance management requirements in your jurisdiction, the purpose of the policy, the scope of the policy’s application, who is responsible for administering which parts of the policy, and the procedures that must be followed under the policy.

When providing performance management and career development information to an employee with a disability, [Name of Organization] will take into account the accessibility needs of the employee and, as applicable, individual accommodation plans.

Putting it into Practice
  • Communicate with employees to set clear performance goals in understandable language so there is an impartial standard by which to judge performance rather than using observations of capabilities.

  • Stay current around an employee’s accommodation plan to ensure that all relevant accommodations are implemented and taken into consideration, if applicable, during the performance review.

  • When assessing the performance of an employee with a disability it is important to differentiate between performance-related issues and disability-related needs so they can be managed in appropriate ways.

  • It is not necessary to avoid providing constructive feedback which would support the employee with a disability, to adapt their behaviour and learn on the job.

  • Stay flexible and open to suggestions from the employee: a person with a disability knows better than anyone what their strengths and limitations are and may be able to tell their manager how they could do their job more effectively.

  • Provide training to senior staff so that they, in turn, support a diverse and inclusive workplace by recruiting, retaining, and promoting employees with disabilities.

  • Encourage the building of relationships between all employees by:

    • Invite employees with disabilities to help shape training about inclusion and diversity, in a way that feels comfortable and respectful to them.

    • Include staff with disabilities in decision-making processes and ensure that they are represented at all levels of the business.  

    • Commit to creating accessible social workplace activities.

    • Include opportunities for staff to interact in accessible settings outside of work so employees feel more comfortable.

    • Create a work atmosphere based on respect, cooperation, and mutual assistance.

  • ​Conduct exit interviews with all employees to find out why they decided to leave, and act on any recommendations that could improve inclusion in the workplace.

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