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Regardless of your opinions about the traditional annual performance appraisal, organizations still need to have a process for managing performance successfully. The process of performance management is a way to provide feedback, accountability, and documentation for performance outcomes. Even organizations that are “ditching” the annual review aren’t abandoning accountability, feedback, and documentation. So, it’s important for organizations to create a process that aligns with their needs and produces results.
The good news is that organizations have some flexibility in creating a performance management process that does works for them and their employees. That being said, there are five key drivers that will make any performance management process successful.
- It starts with management involvement. Managers are responsible for setting performance expectations, providing feedback and coaching, and recognizing excellent work. This doesn’t happen on the sidelines. Managers need to buy into and be an active part of the performance management process.
- High performing individuals and teams have a big hairy audacious goal (BHAG) that drives their performance. In addition, organizational cultures should place an emphasis on smaller goals that align employee performance with that BHAG. The connection creates engagement because employees see how their work helps the company.
- Learning and development activities provide employees with the knowledge and skills to do the work. Companies that want high performance should make investments in employee learning and development. It will allow employees to accomplish their goals – both now and in the future.
- Feedback and coaching sessions to let employees know how they are performing. Employees want to do a good job. Managers should regularly tell employees about their performance – what’s good, what could be improved, and even more importantly, how to evaluate their own work. When employees can evaluate their own performance well, they can set their own goals and begin to become self-learners.
- Make performance management part of workplace culture with ongoing conversations. This component brings the other four items (management, goals, learning, and feedback) together. Organizations should create cultures where discussions about performance goals, learning, coaching, etc. are happening regularly.
You might be saying to yourself, “Hey, this is a great list. But it’s easier said than done.” And, you’re right. If the list were easy, everyone would have nailed it by now. We’d all be working on high performing teams or something else. Mastering this list is a journey.
The other good news is that today’s technologies can support many of these performance management drivers. But technology isn’t a substitute for training or effective management or accountability. It’s also not a substitute for process. Organizations need to have excellent processes. Those pieces must be in place. Then, technology can effectively support the system.
Organizations cannot let the difficulty of the task keep them from creating a successful performance management process. Not taking the time to define the process isn’t fair to the technology, manager, and most of all, the employee.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Annual Conference