Moving to a performance management cycle
Organisational transformation can take time, and going ‘numberless’ presents some risks for companies. Firms such as Deloitte and PwC have wound back their fully numberless employee feedback models in some areas to reach a middle ground – offering quarterly ‘performance snapshots’ or scoring across multiple competencies, respectively.
In testing the waters with performance management, GE first launched a pilot, with about 87,000 employees in 2015, before adopting the changes across the company.
There are four stages to consider when it comes to implementing a performance management cycle: Plan, Monitor, Reward and Review.
In the planning phase, managers and employees will sit down together to set performance expectations and goals for groups and individuals.
Goals should ideally be larger in scope (achievable in 3-6 months) and fit SMART criteria (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound). The department leader should work with each employee to identify three-five key performance objectives critical to the employee’s job position.
This is also a suitable time to review and update an employee’s job description, roles and responsibilities. It’s also worth investigating any training or performance development programs that might be useful in the long term objectives of the company and the employee’s career.
While the point of this planning is for performance management purposes, it’s not uncommon for the topic of salary, bonuses and rewards to be raised. It’s worth stressing here that regular feedback model is designed to improve performance. The conversation should remain focussed on development while explaining that performance metrics will be used to support annual pay decisions. If rewards are discussed, be sure that it’s clear what bonus is to be expected for satisfactorily meeting each goal.
The monitor phase is where frequent feedback comes in full. Supervisors need to be mindful that ‘feedback’ doesn’t mean catching people out when they’re off-task or slipping behind; feedback goes both ways.
An employee needs to feel comfortable to give feedback to a manager about obstacles to agreed goals, solutions for their challenges and accurate progress reports.
Positive feedback is also a powerful motivator. Catch people doing the right thing and acknowledging it publicly where appropriate can do more for productivity and culture than a monetary reward.
It’s vital to document in detail the advances, challenges, solutions and notable situations throughout this time, in relation to the goals that were laid out in the planning phase.
While there are many performance management tools, such as automated surveys, to monitor progress, be cautious of relying too much on them. Changing the culture to prioritise face-to-face communication sets employees and managers up for success, with the ability to have fluid dialogue. As business priorities evolve, so too will the conversations, so a standard check-box form can’t take the place of genuine human feedback.
Remember how we set SMART goals in the planning phase? ‘T’ being for ‘time-bound’ means setting a date for checking on progress. There’s a clear pass/fail here in terms of the timeframe being met; however, that is not the only relevant data.
One component of the Review phase is employee self-assessment. Using the agreed-upon goals in the planning phase, employees can reflect on their performance before discussing it in a manager-led appraisal – what went well, what could be improved, what were the unforeseen challenges were.
Rather than focusing on a singular incident or overall perceptions, as a reviewing manager, you’ll need to make use of documentation made throughout the monitoring phase. Managers should avoid assessment of issues not covered by the performance plan or not specifically addressed with the employee.
As regular feedback was given throughout the process, the meeting will likely be a short one. But it does provide a clear, holistic view of their performance over the time the goals have been being pursued. Documentation should be signed off by the manager and employee before
Properly conducted performance management helps to ensure that employee job performance aligns with company standards and policies while offering each employee recognition for their accomplishments and opportunities to improve weaknesses.
How will you reward employees for their performance and acknowledge their contribution to the business’ success? Meaningful rewards can help motivate employees to exceed their goals and double down on their commitment to the cause. Unappealing or poorly thought out rewards, on the other hand, may make them feel unappreciated or even search for another job.
If rewards were discussed in the planning phase, and expectations were met or exceeded, stay true to the agreement. Even a small short change here can damage the trust of the process.