Employee performance management is something that must be given attention throughout the year, not just at annual review time. Effective management leads to more engaged and productive individuals and teams. A 2019 Harris Poll found that nearly 77% of employees surveyed across 310 workplaces felt “on their own” regarding personal and professional development, which correlates to high turnover (as well as high costs for the employer to recruit and retain replacement talent).
Being mindful of how to effectively manage employees’ performance and taking deliberate actions in this area, organizations will enjoy benefits including increased engagement, improved productivity, and on-the-job behaviors and goals that are aligned with the organization’s goals.
How do you manage employee performance? Let’s examine five steps that will strengthen your performance management process in order to benefit both your employees and your organization as a whole.
1. The Annual Review
The formal annual review is an excellent opportunity to review the employee’s performance against the organizational and individual goals. This is the time to discuss their development based on steps they have taken in the past year as well as short-term and long-term goals. Frame the conversation around their individual dreams and passions, and help write a development plan that will lead them to take specific and measurable actions towards accomplishing these goals. By framing the annual review around future aspirations, and not just passively reflecting on the past, you will show interest in their development as well as demonstrate your support of them as individuals.
2. Weekly 1:1 Sessions
These more informal conversations are the place to get to know your employees and build a mutually trusting relationship.Take the time to ask about their interests and ideas, and provide them with coaching and feedback when appropriate. As Brené Brown says, “Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind,” and your employees will benefit from clear, actionable feedback on their recent successes or any areas for development.
Begin the conversation by asking what they’d like to discuss, and make sure to ask open-ended questions throughout the conversation, leaving room for them to share thoughts and ideas. Wherever possible, connect their accomplishments to their goals and their development plan, and seek out opportunities to give them projects or assignments to help them accomplish their goals or develop new skills.
3. Quarterly Check-Ins
These meetings are the mid-way point between informal weekly 1:1 sessions, and the more formal annual review. These conversations may include a review of the employee’s development plan with attention given to measuring or documenting progress towards their goals. If necessary, the manager can take this opportunity to give additional feedback, support, or guidance if the employee is at risk of not achieving a particular goal. Similarly, this can also be an opportunity to show appreciation, and for both the employee and the manager to reflect on any successes or challenges to date.
One other option for quarterly check-ins is to do “skip level” meetings, where the employee meets with their manager’s manager. During this meeting, the employee gains valuable time 1:1 with a more senior leader where they have the opportunity to discuss their goals and thoughts, and to build a relationship with someone who they may not have much exposure to.
4. 360 Reviews
During this exercise, employees receive feedback from others at all levels around them, including their peers, individuals who have worked on projects with them, and even customers they have interacted with. After your employee completes a large scale project, consider sending a 360 review to their business stakeholders and anyone else directly involved in the project. The feedback obtained during this process provides valuable real-life talking points and examples of what the employee is doing well, in addition to highlighting any areas of opportunity.
5. The Perform Solution
Many organizations struggle to collect and interpret data pertaining to employee performance when this data is spread across numerous systems. Employee performance management solutions including learning management systems, learning experience platforms, and enterprise resource planning systems all serve a unique purpose. However, they don’t always have the ability to communicate with one another or allow leaders to easily distill information from multiple sources. Performance management software fills this gap by administering all performance management activities in one place. Leaders and employees alike will feel empowered and informed by gaining the ability to focus on what matters and not spending time on the tedious collection or reporting of data from numerous sources.
Performance management is a year-round activity, made simple by tools such as performance management software and processes that establish trust and encourage open, honest, and frequent communication between leaders and their employees. Engaged employees are happy employees, which leads to stronger individual and organizational performance. By taking the time to establish a clear performance management process and routine check-ins with their employees, leaders will reap benefits over those who see performance management as a one-way, “one and done” conversation that happens solely at annual review time.