Powering Performance Management Processes - Best Practices
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It should be no surprise that a well-structured performance management process can strengthen all elements of an organization. With today’s constant distractions and the growth in organizational complexity, the prospect of focusing employees and managers on clear goals, providing timely feedback and tracking performance has tremendous value. Companies with strong performance management practices see higher employee engagement and greater productivity, which deeply impact their bottom line.
The previous article in this series reviewed the basics of what performance management is, and how this practice has evolved over recent years. The key-features of most performance management processes include goal setting, ongoing tracking, reviews and feedback and continuous optimization. In this post, we will explore best- practices for approaching these activities.
So, where do we start?
Before jumping head-first into well-intended performance management initiatives, it’s essential for everyone to be on board. Stakeholders, leadership, employees and everyone in between must understand what you’re trying to achieve and support plans to move forward.
Teams must lay to rest any doubts or skepticisms they may have. Oftentimes line -managers in operational roles will perceive goal setting as an upper -management responsibility or consider the process time -consuming and contrived. However, it is exactly these managers that have the most skin in the game and will make or break the process. Line-managers must be one of your first stations when selling your process internally and must receive tools that will help them see direct value from it. Otherwise, the process will result in the exact opposite of what you set out for, and just generate more confusion and frustration.
It takes patience and direction to align a team of employees on collective and individual objectives. Setting measurable and achievable goals is the first stepping stone on that path. For objectives to be valid, it must be possible to easily break them down into action-items and short-term goals with measurable, tangible results; this performance management strategy is sometimes referred to as objectives and key-results (OKRs).
A great way to start is for management and employees to come together and identify three to five clear-cut, priority objectives for teams and individuals to focus on each quarter. Avoid the urge to boil the ocean and fix everything. Setting too many goals will make the project more about fault finding and wishful thinking and less about creating and following plans to grow and improve your workforce performance.
There are three words that, when uttered within the walls of a company, send shivers down the spines of leadership and employees alike – annual performance review. This practice of traditional performance management has given the process itself a rather negative reputation.
Replacing the annual -review is a journey toward continuous performance management. This recent approach is shifting the mindset of leadership across the globe to highlight employees’ desire to not only perform well but improve and progress individually. One way to play to this particular driving force is to find a way for employees to have constant visibility in to their performance at any given time. Employees will benefit from real-time updates by having more options to course correct and optimize their work. Managers will profit from real-time performance updates by knowing how to tailor meetings and feedback to each employee’s progress.
Tracking progress continually opens the door to more frequent and effective coaching moments. When leadership and teammates alike have eyes on a shared dashboard showing current performance trends of each employee, managers and mentors can offer meaningful support and teach employees to their weaknesses.
Flexing Your Feedback Muscles
Feedback can be a powerful force for progression. It can be fleeting, or it can be tailored and impactful. Leadership can make feedback more relevant and meaningful by referring to the influx of data available due to ongoing performance tracking. Using this data as the basis for feedback has two great by-products – First, it makes feedback more focused and transparent and ensures employees are more receptive to it. Second, it enables us to automate certain forms of immediate feedback and create alerts that will help deliver highly relevant, highly applicable feedback at scale.
Managers should have ample resources and a simple process to provide employees with feedback, and should be prompted to do so regularly. Companies with strong feedback practices go beyond just manager feedback; they will solicit feedback from peers as well. So, peers should also be equipped with a simple way to provide this feedback to their fellow employees. This places mutual accountability on team members across the board and fosters a culture of excellence.
Optimizing the Process
In order for these practices to be effective, managers need to continuously monitor the data and evaluate their ability to drive business results – as opposed to sparking general conversations with vague outputs and wasting valuable time. Make sure to review your performance management activities occasionally and see if they drive a quantifiable improvement in the targeted business objectives – has revenue improved? Are more customers satisfied with your service? Are compliance levels going up? Be sure not fall in love with a performance management process just because it is well accepted by employees or is easy to deploy. The goal, after all, is performance and performance is measurable.
Implementing the tips detailed above can boost an organization’s overall efficiency and ability to move swiftly together as a whole toward important objectives. Stay tuned for the next segment that will take a look at tools and features to look for to support performance management processes.
Centrical is an Employee-Centric Performance Management Platform – the “fitness tracker” for the Connected Workforce of the Future. Centrical empowers employees to boost their work performance through hyper-personalised goals, real time tracking and data-driven feedback and coaching. Deployed with the world’s leading organizations Centrical helps managers drive up employee value day by day. To find out how Centrical can help transform your organization go to www.centrical.com or book a live demo.