Performance Reviews

Our top 3 strategies for a successful performance management process

As HR you have many responsibilities. This can include payroll, onboarding, recruitment, and a myriad of other things. Traditionally, the performance management process has also fallen under HR, which is not only time-consuming, but has an impact on much bigger topics such as employee engagement, turnover, and overall productivity.

What started out as a “simple” process of gathering feedback on performance, turns into an indicator of a company’s overall health. This means it can sometimes be difficult to know where to start to build a performance management process that fits your organization’s unique needs.

From our experience working with hundreds of customers, we’ve listed the three most common challenges we see, and what can be done to address them.

1. Driving Alignment

What does this look like?

If this is your challenge, statistics like this may sound all too familiar: “Seventy percent of direct reports say their managers don’t provide clear goals and direction”. More than we care to admit, people suffer from lack of clarity in the workplace which directly affects their levels of engagement.

When people don’t know why they are working on a certain project and how it contributes to company objectives, it can result in a loss of motivation and interest. This has a direct impact on the bottom line: demotivated employees invest less in their work therefore decreasing overall productivity. According to research by Gallup, the cost to the U.S. economy alone is of $370 billion a year!

This can also go as far as affecting turnover rate, which has a ripple effect on the cost of recruiting new talent.

Why does it matter?

People who feel valued, supported, and aligned to company values perform better. According to McKinsey, when people feel personally connected with their organization, it increases their productivity by up to 25%.

While often employee engagement is interpreted as having “happy” employees (making the workplace a fun environment to be in), the real value of providing them with greater clarity is to increase alignment with company values and objectives, thereby increasing productivity. This will also deepen their commitment towards the company.

What can I do?

There are several ways to drive greater alignment, one of which is through improved and frequent communications. Support this with your performance management process, to strengthen the message. Typical activities to support greater clarity and alignment are:

Learn more about how these activities can work together to improve clarity and alignment in our new Guide to People Enablement Programs.

2. Accelerating growth

What does this look like?

This can take form in several different ways. Companies may be struggling to accelerate their own growth due to employees not knowing where to direct their efforts. Or, companies may be suffering from inexperienced managers who are not well equipped to help develop others.

People may also be struggling to understand what career development opportunities are available to them, therefore stagnating or leaving the company. A 2015 survey by Gallup found that only 7% of Americans took on new opportunities within their current organization.

Why does it matter?

If people are not developing in the workplace or don’t have a clear path, it often becomes difficult for them to know how they might progress, or what their career within the organization looks like. This makes it difficult for them to a have conversation with their manager about performance, as there is no reference point for growth.

This also impacts their ability to deliver in their role and progress as a professional, as they are relying solely on “on-the-job” learning.

What can I do?

The key is to empower people to take ownership of their career, which can be done in several different ways.

The first is to ensure they are aware of the career paths or areas of growth available within the company. Work with managers to set clear expectations with their direct reports from the get-go. This could be done through a goal-setting exercise, or by outlining core skills and competencies for their role.

This could be coupled with regular check-ins between managers and their direct reports so they can have developmental conversations and the ability to adapt along the way. When supported by the exchange of real-time feedback and quarterly performance reviews, this helps people constantly align with the direction in which they want to go.

With regular check-ins and conversations, employees will have a much clearer idea of where they can develop, which results in them being more engaged and more proactive towards their career.

Get a more in depth understanding of how you can empower growth across every member of your company.

3. Providing recognition

What does this look like?

Employees can be disengaged for many reasons. Lack of clarity and alignment is one of them, but infrequent to non-existent recognition is another. When people don’t receive recognition, they often feel undervalued and struggle to see how their work is contributing to the organization’s goals. Even if they have a vague idea of what it’s contributing towards, lack of recognition may cause them to feel like no-one values their effort, ultimately losing a sense of belonging and purpose. They will also lose interest in their work and productivity will decrease. Because they don’t know whether their efforts are appreciated, they stop investing the time, which ends up impacting everyone around them.

Why does it matter?

As in the previous two examples, there is a strong likelihood employees will leave for another job. However they can also turn into disgruntled employees, becoming company critics. This could result in bad reviews on websites like Glassdoor, or influencing potential candidates by giving them negative feedback about working conditions. In the long term, this impacts the ability to attract talent. On the other hand, companies with highly effective recognition programs have 31% lower voluntary turnover.

What can I do?

Encourage people to start sharing positive feedback with each other. After a job well done, upon completing a project, or when someone helps another colleague. Get into the habit of sharing feedback in the moment and on-the-go. The more people start to do it, the more it will become a habit. In particular, encourage managers to set a good example by regularly encouraging them to celebrate individual and team wins.

There is no need to overcomplicate things with a large-scale program, often the most meaningful forms are recognition are the simple but personalized ones, like a handwritten thank you note. Peer to peer recognition is also powerful.

Learn about more ways you can support regular feedback sharing amongst your people.

Why should I implement these strategies?

Based on our experience, these strategies have several positive effects:

  • Developing a strong culture of feedback by introducing real-time feedback between all colleagues, as at Bynder.

  • Making the review process scaleable and more lightweight with check-ins between the official review cycle, as DoorDash did.

  • Increased participation in reviews across the board: on average our customers experience a 93% participation rate.

  • Better clarity and alignment: 72% of people find that feedback exchanged through Impraise has contributed to their performance improvements.

How does that differ from talent management? People enablement is about removing hierarchical bottlenecks and putting managers and individuals in the driver’s seat of their performance and development. We believe that by bringing the three together, companies have the opportunity to empower their people to feel more in control of their careers, and more engaged in the workplace. Ultimately, this increases overall business productivity in a way that isn’t top down.

How can I do it?

Don’t panic, you don’t have to do it all at once! We understand that change doesn’t happen overnight and that it takes time to set up a new process. That’s why we believe in starting with the small victories, and creating habits.

Usually after starting with one of these three approaches, customers progressively add in elements from the others, until they are doing all three. Upon doing so, they have successfully implemented a People Enablement Program.

In our experience that means ensuring you’re not driving a top-down process, and actively involving employees every step of the way. Help employees by creating a structure they can turn to when they use the platform. Set the proper foundations for your new program, and create an environment where everybody feels safe and encouraged to use the new technology.

For more inspiration and guidance on how to bring your People Enablement strategy to life, download our free Guide to People Enablement Programs today.

Photo by Christina Morillo on Pexels