A key strategic priority for HR leaders is to have a strong approach to performance management. We’re working to engage and develop people effectively, and that means enabling them to be effective and high-achieving individuals.
Traditionally, one tool we’ve used in this regard is the performance review. You’ve been through this routine before-once every year, you sit down with each employee, discuss their performance and check off a few boxes on a form that answer some basic questions. Are they getting their work done? Are they in line for a pay raise? Are they looking to climb the corporate ladder?
This type of review process is effective when managing compliance and “sameness” is the goal. But what companies need is a more dynamic, future-looking and employee development driven approach to performance management. We need to do more than just check off a few boxes once a year. The goal should be continuous development of our people-and the right performance management technology can help with that mission.
As technology decision-makers in the HR industry, we’re all looking for investments that will lead to better employee engagement and contribute to higher retention. There’s a good chance that better performance management software will contribute to these positive outcomes.
Performance Development is the Next Step
If your company’s performance process is a backward looking, event based process, you’re truly missing opportunities to positively impact your people. The next step in performance management is finding opportunities for employee coaching and development. Don’t ask the standard questions and complete the generic ratings. Engage in real conversation. Understand what they are good at and enjoy doing. Find out what is working for them and what you can do to help them achieve more. Turn this into a conversation that’s ongoing, year-round, and keep building upon it.
The performance review is often viewed as something HR requires to have consistent and current documentation about individual performance. It is that, but it can also be so much more. Employee development, growth and retention should be the desired outcomes.
Setting Meaningful and Attainable Goals should be a Priority
With each individual employee you’re looking to develop, it’s good to establish clear goals for what they need to accomplish and how they will accomplish them. How do they drive the business forward? How do their contributions and influence impact their team, department or division? Are there personal developmental items that will help advance them and their performance? Performance management software can help you find these benchmarks. Take a moment to sit down and evaluate where your employees stand and how they can do more to fit into your organization’s goals. Use your technology to empower people-let them take control of their own career development.
Ofcourse, just setting goals is the easy part. The next step is to follow up with people and make sure they’re doing what it takes to achieve them. Having ongoing conversations is necessary to ensure progress is made.
Real Development Requires Continuous Feedback
There’s a limit to how much your employees can accomplish if they’re merely left to their own devices to work. Some people are productive by themselves, but they need feedback from others if they’re going to acquire new skills and sharpen the ones they already have.
Performance development is dependent upon helpful feedback. Great employers know there should be a continuous, open dialogue between employees and their mentors-a sit-down meeting once a year is not enough to make real progress. Even if feedback is given informally, it’s still helpful in nurturing employee growth.
The right performance management solution can expedite the process. If you have dashboards for following employees’ progress and open communication channels for offering feedback, the conversation will flow freely. It’s also imperative to include the right people in the feedback process. While we like to believe our leaders are instrumental to our performance, they may not have the full picture of our contributions. Including peers, colleagues and others in the process provides a more holistic approach to delivering impactful feedback.
Separating Performance Development from Compensation
There’s a commonly held opinion that one of the main reasons for holding performance reviews is to determine compensation. Some people use review meetings to discuss people’s job performance and decide from there whether they deserve a raise or not.
It doesn’t necessarily need to be this way. There’s a growing school of thought that it makes sense to separate performance development from compensation. In reality, compensation depends on a lot of different factors besides the employee’s improvement. There’s the value of the person’s skills, the cost of replacing them, the person’s impact on customer service and, of course, the external market for labor. The purpose of performance development isn’t to talk about paychecks - it’s to nurture talent.
Improving the Employee Experience
Performance management should be more about the employee experience than about HR. Some other important questions include: How can we help our people get more out of this? How can we give them the thanks and recognition they deserve? Companies must consider software that simplifies the process, shortens feedback loops, and captures more reliable data. Engaging technologies are built on simplicity, recognition, and a great user experience, which employees are more likely to use every day. The employee portal should not just be a place where they change their address, alter their payroll tax elections, add a dependent to the benefits plan or request time off. It should evolve into a gateway to track goals, have conversations about them, receive recognition, and interact with managers and colleagues to help achieve them. It’s hard to force people to change, but we can make these conversations become part of their everyday work life and technology will go a long way towards achievement.
Applying Today’s Lessons and Moving Forward
Are you dissatisfied with the performance review process that’s currently in place at your organization? If so, not to worry. It’s certainly not too late to make some strategic changes and make your process productive again.
Begin by using better performance management software to manage the process. This will help you with maximizing efficiency, gathering more data and making smarter decisions about the direction of the workforce. Your real goal is to have the best possible people over the long haul, and that requires constant emphasis on true development.