Continuous Performance Management Brings Highest Employee Engagement Home for the Holidays

November 16, 2017 | Alan Mellish & Holly Pennebaker | BetterWorks
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Halloween has come and gone and perhaps, so has all the candy.

The remainder of 2017 and several holidays are hurtling toward us like a freight train. The stress of preparing for these events takes its toll on many of us, but the memories we make and the calories we consume are worth it.

Want to know which annual event isn’t worth the bother?

The traditional performance review.

Organizations everywhere are gearing up for their yearly performance reviews. Managers are filling out paperwork and straining their memories back across an entire year to recall employees’ major successes and failures, and employees are bracing themselves for bad news or daring to hope for an above-average salary increase. Either way, the traditional performance review is past its “sell-by” date.

Effective Feedback is Frequent Feedback

One of the ostensible purposes of the annual performance review is for the manager to deliver feedback to the employee. This conversation is intended to help him or her improve and develop in the coming year. This is a terrible way to provide feedback. Instead of giving providing constructive criticism in the moment when the employee has a chance to course-correct, traditional performance management allows managers to wait nine months and bring it up as a justification for giving the employee a rating of 3 instead of 4!

What if professional athletes only got feedback from their coaches annually? It’s institutional insanity that we tolerate the status quo of annual performance discussions.

Continuous Conversations are Agile Conversations

It’s a well-recognized fact that we’re living in a volatile, ever-changing moment in history. Strategies, responsibilities and goals all shift in unpredictable ways throughout a given year.

In this environment, does it really make sense to set expectations and development plans once every 12 months?

Managers and employees need regular check-in style discussions to ensure everyone is on the same page and that progress is being made. Done right, these ongoing discussions will promote accountability for outcomes and increase employee engagement over time.

After all, doesn’t a causal coffee shop conversation sound less scary than a formal management office meeting?

Employee Owned, not Endured

Traditional performance management programs are usually comprised of a set of policies and rules imposed from top leaders, and they can often feel draconian for the participants. Even high-performing employees tend to see their organization’s review process as an unpleasant ritual that is inflicted upon them. To change this, employees themselves must feel empowered to ask managers and peers for feedback.

Don’t mandate a one-size-fits-all cadence for performance check-ins. Leave it to the manager and employee to decide the timing and format that best suits the nature of their work. Let employees set their career and development goals. In short, let your people take ownership of the process as much as you can.

While these suggestions may not fit your organization exactly, we’re willing to bet that if you apply just one or two of them, you’ll see some pretty impressive results this time next year.

If you’re looking for more ideas about performance management innovation (or if you just want a brief distraction from holiday madness), be sure to sign up for this webcast and learn how Turner adds spirit and cheer to performance management - The Time Has Come: Throwing Away the Rule Book on Performance Management.