By: Caitland Conley
The modern workforce is moving away from a one-and-done annual review system for employees, and working to implement employee performance management processes that actually fit, nurture, and encourage the employees who work for them.
Until recently, the prevailing idea was that employees didn’t want performance reviews quarterly. Goal setting was considered a tedious, blue-sky concept. As the world globalizes and remote workers grow in number year after year, the idea of an annual review started to seem out-of-touch with how people actually work.
Today’s work world has more touch-points than ever. A job that was once considered a two-person job regularly is saddled onto one employee, which can lead to burnout. Job-hopping is encouraged and normal. Coupled with an “always-on” workforce, employee performance requires a nuanced review process.
One-time performance appraisals simply don’t work today because they don’t see the employee as a person who experiences both good and bad days at work.
Employee performance management isn’t just a tool or a plug-in when you’re making hiring decisions. It’s an organizational process, a roadmap that’s integral to the growth and scale of your company. Performance management also exists to standardize and set expectations across the board, from onboarding to exit interviewing and everything in between.
Why You Need Employee Performance Management
There’s so much more to employee performance than showing up on time or turning in that one report they owe their manager. Employee performance, whether you realize it or not, is a direct reflection of the culture and environment leadership is communicating to the larger organizational body.
In scrappy start-up environments and huge enterprise companies alike, there’s a common thread to hiring and onboarding that shouldn’t be skipped: detailed job descriptions. With the right employee performance management processes and systems, developing robust, measurable job descriptions is key.
Beyond that, you need to have an understanding of how talent is performing. Written documentation when someone isn’t performing is the only way to truly monitor and nurture these individuals, especially in enterprise companies with thousands of team members.
With an employee communication software, you’ll promote education and empower employers as they implement thoughtful review processes across the board—from the C-suite to entry level roles.
Talent Management and Giving Good Feedback
There are many factors that go into talent management during the employee performance process. No one wants to feel like their goals don’t matter to the company, and no one wants to hit an arbitrary goal that doesn’t pull the needle forward for their organization.
With growth-centric programming and talent management, you’re taking responsibility for a person’s professional development. Organizations that take a human approach, rather than treating their people as replaceable, tend to see higher engagement and greater loyalty at work.
Of course, this isn’t always possible with huge teams. How can you remember the names of your coworkers if you’re part of an enterprise team of literally thousands? However, effective platforms and technology, when leveraged by human resources, can help make people feel included.
Employee engagement through platforms and software is more important than ever, in a landscape where job-hopping and completely checked out employees have measurable effects on your culture and your bottom line.
An effective performance management system isn’t just one type of action; it’s better to consider talent management as an ecosystem of actions, such as:
- Consistently implemented onboarding
- Regularly occurring one-on-one meetings (also called check-ins) between managers and employees
- Quarterly strategic goal-setting
- Performance improvement plans
- Employee recognition
- Continued education and employee development
Evaluating performance on a cadence helps for feedback to be more consistent and less scary to employees. If you have a weekly meeting with your boss on a regular basis, you won’t freak out if they invite you into their office. You’ll be accustomed to a certain level of a relationship with them.
With quarterly goals and written efforts to monitor performance, understanding the effort an employee is putting in, the results they drive for the company, and the compensation adjustment they deserve will all click into place.
Human resources shouldn’t bear the brunt of knowing what each and every employee is doing at their jobs. Ideally, a performance management system keeps careful records on all team members that make performance plans easy to introduce, and not something that can be taken personally or out of context.
With a performance management process in place, it should be easier to retain employees, make them aware of programming and benefits to nurture them at the company, and increase loyalty and commitment to overarching organizational goals.
For managers and leadership, there are clear signs of effective communication that employees value in the workplace, especially when it comes to giving honest feedback. Constructive criticism at work should always come from a space that is not personal or personally motivated.
When managers give employees feedback, they should follow these best practices on employee engagement strategies and individual performance:
- Use the “compliment sandwich” method, which involves providing 1-2 positive comments alongside a piece of constructive criticism. For example, “I really enjoyed reading the report you compiled. Would you be able to add more actionable data to the findings for our presentation next week? Otherwise, it is nearly complete.”
- Use specificity if the employee is not following protocol, ideally pointing to a written, documented policy.
- Try to understand how and when the employee is most productive and consider talking with them about what the company can do to increase workplace productivity.
- Reference previous performance measures, including what you’ve noticed the employee has been working on. Say “thank you” for their work, regardless of whether or not it is the same quality as you would produce. Everyone wants to hear “thank you” at their job.
- If a performance improvement plan is implemented, don’t shy away from the hard conversations in person. Sending an email to document a meeting is fine, but expressing details about performance over email can quickly backfire and read as passive-aggressive.
- Think, “How would I want to be treated if someone were giving me feedback on my performance right now?” and act accordingly.
From an organizational perspective, setting yourself up for success when it comes to employee performance management isn’t as daunting a task as it looks.
After all, that’s why we developed talent management communication journeys: to break down departmental silos, encourage open and effective communication through technology, and empower your organization.