Performance management is a critical asset for businesses. It allows managers to track performance and see which employees are doing well, along with those that may need a little assistance. It can also help determine which processes are working and which need some tweaking. Of course, if you do it right, your performance management strategy will also inspire employees to be accountable and engaged in the process from the first day of implementation (or their first day on the job).
Performance tracking matters because it tells organizational leaders what is working and what isn’t, as well as who is working and who isn’t. However, today’s platforms and tools go well beyond basic metrics like output or hourly productivity. You can integrate a performance management system that tracks every element of the employee’s day to ensure that they are performing at their best and that when they’re not, the need for upskilling or assistance is noted.
Determine and Set the Level of Autonomy
The biggest shift in the workplace is the elimination of micromanagement. Companies that once spent a lot of time overseeing employees and their work are now giving employees more control and autonomy over their roles. This works especially well in startups and small businesses, but it can be effective in any organization. When employees know from the start that they’re given a certain level of independence, they will strive to live up to the expectations of that freedom and utilize it to upskill themselves in various ways.
When there’s more democracy and room for freedom, it might work better to get away from pre-defined processes and goals that can hinder development. This is where autonomy and accountability can lead the way for future performance management success.
Make Sure Employees Are Aware of Their Role in Organizational Goals
Too often, companies set individual goals without focusing on how those goals impact the overall effort of the organization. It’s great to have goals, but people today want to know that they’re working toward something greater. It’s not just about hitting their metrics or delivering a certain level of productivity—they want to know what the organization’s goals are and what their role in accomplishing those goals will be.
It’s not just about formal training requirements for listing job duties, either. It’s about creating a conversation with people so that they feel comfortable asking about their role, the organization’s future plans and growth goals, and how they can contribute or assist. The more people ask the more you should encourage them to explore their position within the company and not just their role as a static employee—after all, there isn’t such a thing.
Create a Feedback Culture
This is something that’s been discussed in several performance management circles. Feedback cultures are a hot trend right now because they focus on creating a space where everyone can help everyone do better. 360-degree feedback and constant conversations about progress, processes, and goal achievement can ensure that everyone stays focused and can remain on track. Companies that develop a feedback culture see a huge increase in engagement and accountability, regardless of their industry.
Today’s employees need more than just a once-a-year meeting to discuss how they are performing. They want more than a basic set of metrics or “goals” that have been somehow predefined and came from somewhere the employee doesn’t even understand.
Think about how many times people sit down in an annual performance review or some other type of performance evaluation and are told what their goals should be and how they should be achieved. Some companies even go so far as to implement an expected timeline for employees to ensure that they stay on track. And yet, that all goes right off the rails because today, people need to be engaged and have a part of the process, not just be told what to learn and when to learn it.
Give Everyone a Personal Action Plan
Part of that learning and feedback includes personal action plans for every single employee. This helps employees identify their own short- and long-term goals and objectives within the organization. This will then help them create a work plan that will achieve their goals as part of their day-to-day tasks. These action plans need constant follow-up and feedback to be effective, which is why the former step of creating a feedback culture is such a critical part of the process.
Action plans should include timelines, deadlines, exceptions, and track records of previous and ongoing performance. Essentially, each plan should be able to deliver a snapshot of how the employee is doing on their goals, including which goals they are working on, what stage they’re in, and other elements.
Role Clarification Sessions: A New Tool
As organizations are looking to improve performance, they understand that means better defining the roles of employees within the organization. This is a newer, less common performance management technique that can be very effective in shifting the company to a feedback culture and making sure that employees can live up to the demands and expectations of their job. Sit down with employees to explain exactly what their role is and what that entails.
Companies may want to discuss with employees how their actual work varies compared to the job description—after all, most leaders have never been in the roles they hire for, so they may be listing some standard-issue job duties that aren’t even in the right wheelhouse. This is not a one-way conversation, either. This is a two-way discussion to ensure that both parties understand the duties and expectations of a role so that everyone has clarity from the beginning.
The Bottom Line
Too often, companies assume that employees aren’t interested in performance management. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Today’s best candidates are ones that are driven to learn and grow on the job, and they need the right leadership to do that. With these performance management techniques, accountability, engagement, and ownership of performance will become standard among employees across the organization.