The traditional performance management process have been scrutinized for being outdated, time consuming, and overall ineffective at developing and motivating employees. Over the last 12-18 months with the switch to remote/flexible/hybrid work, performance management has been in turmoil. Employees are getting confused. Management is getting frustrated. And HR may be keen to buy a new performance management solution, as HR leaders may think that a new sexy software will help improve employee performance.
But HR practitioners have to realize that human performance is complex – simply introducing a new software into the organization isn’t going to magically create a culture of feedback, motivate employees, or solve your performance management pain points. Performance management is people-led and technology supported, not the other way around.
If you are an HR leader thinking about redesigning your performance management process, we encourage you to consider the following points.
1) Continuous is not enough. Feedback has to be effective.
There is huge drive to supplement traditional annual reviews with continuous check-ins/feedback. More continuous feedback is a great start. But organizations need to do better. There is an art and science to giving feedback that actually improves performance. Consider these two examples:
Example 1: That was a good presentation Alex – it was much better than your presentation last quarter.
Example 2: During your presentation yesterday, your tone and pace were excellent. I would recommend trying to make more eye-contact with the audience next time as it enhances your impact as a presenter and helps persuade others to see your point of view.
The first example is not behavior-based; Alex does not know which behaviors to correct or repeat. If you compare that to the second example – there are specific behaviors that Alex can correct (eye-contact) or repeat (tone and pace). Which feedback example would better Alex’s performance? There is no doubt that the second example would.
Bottom line: Feedback has to be effective (constructive, objective, relevant, and direct) AND continuous. Effective feedback training is essential if employee performance is to be improved.
2) Management is essential to the performance management process
Management must walk the talk when it comes to implementing new performance management processes. For example, if you want employees to share feedback more often, leaders have to lead by example and actively share and request feedback (not simply endorse the initiative). Employees are more likely to exhibit the behaviors and actions their leaders and managers are role modelling. This also helps normalize behaviors, so it becomes engrained in your culture overtime.
We also want to highlight the importance of the manager-employee relationship when there is change management occurring – particularly as it relates to performance management. One study found that source credibility strongly correlates with perceived accuracy and desire to respond. In other words, if employees do not trust their manager, the managers’ feedback will hold little weight. This will undoubtedly impact employee performance. Hence, while management is important in driving performance management initiatives, strong workplace relationships should not be overlooked.
Pro tip: HR and talent leader should look for alternative sources for feedback (360 feedback) which provides a better picture of employee performance and decreases unconscious biases in the workplace. This can not only help HR leaders pin point low-credible leaders that may need more management training (or more feedback to help improve their leadership skills), but given the agile/matrix structure of many organizations, 360 feedback is becoming more crucial to implement.
3) Structured processes will need to be established … particularly at the beginning
If your organization is either switching from a once-a-year conversation to regular check-ins or informal office conversations to completely remote feedback sessions, establishing the right processes is essential. One study found that even those managers who indicate they know what to say to help employees develop and how to say it, they still need a support process to guide them.
“Out of 500 managers surveyed globally, about a third confessed that they did not know how to help people change, and less than 10% said they knew how to make such behavioral change sustainable.”
In order for performance management processes to be sustainable in your organization, HR leaders will need to establish structured processes. This might be as simple as holding people accountable for sharing feedback once a week or blocking off a 10 minute “feedback sharing” time in every managers’ calendar every other Thursday. Overtime as the processes are repeated, they will become second nature in your organization. For example, at Pavestep, our team shares feedback because it has become part of our organization – we share it because we want to, not because we are told to.
Performance management is people-led and technology supported.
While we have focused mostly on the ‘people-led’ component of performance management, we did want to highlight one key factor when choosing an effective performance management solution.
Simplicity is key!
Performance management solutions that require multiple training hours will not lead to high employee adoption (which is probably one the biggest HR pain points)! If you want employees to share & document feedback, set and track goals, and complete performance reviews in a timely fashion, make sure the tool is easy-to-use, intuitive, and integrates into employees’ day-to-day. (For example, many modern performance management solutions integrate with common internal communication channels, making the process of giving & requesting feedback and receiving feedback notifications a lot more streamlined).
For more information on the best practices in employee performance management, check out our performance management guidebook.
You may also find these resources helpful:
- What is an Effective Performance Management System?
- How Performance Management Processes Can Support DEI
- Integrating Company Values into Your Performance Management Process
If you are interested in Pavestep’s solution, feel free to reach out! Our performance management solution includes continuous, 360 feedback, easy goal management, and flexible and customizable performance reviews (manager, self, and 360). We also have our people analytic features that can help employees and HR leaders make better training and talent decisions. Book a demo today!