The appraisal is dead. Long live the catch-up!
Many of us HR Professionals will be familiar with this phrase and will have heard of aspirational organisations making the bold move from annual appraisals to online software to manage their performance management practices.
However, in our experience, many organisations fail to enable effective performance management practices using software. Why? Because with any software tool, it can only act as an enabler for change. It requires the right practices to be embedded within the organisation to truly be effective.
We commissioned Dr Nuno da Camara to carry out a research review on what actually works in Performance Management. The research found 8 key evidence-based management practices that have been shown to increase employee performance within a range of organisations. Four of these activities are completely within the control of the manager and four relate more closely to organisational practice and processes. In this blog, we will cover the effective performance management practices that managers can adopt to improve employee performance. All eight practices are explained in the full research paper that you can download here: download the research paper here.
4 Effective Performance Management Practices
1. Goal Setting
A common issue with performance management practices are individual goals not being defined clearly enough for people to understand what is expected of them. We would recommend managers use a process like SMART to agree specific and measurable objectives with the individual in question. Ideally, these would connect the individual’s job role with the overall business goals.
You can download our free guide on How to write SMART objectives here.
2. Strategic Alignment
We believe that problems with strategic alignment are often caused by staff not understanding what the overall business goals are to begin with and how their role contributes. So, the key here is to make sure that the business planning process starts as early as possible in the year. Managers must convince the Board that if they want people to know what is expected of them, then they must set and share these performance targets as early as possible. They must then explain to their teams how the individual goals set for them actually align with the overall business purpose. They should be clear on the ‘why’ of why I’m doing this. This may sound like common sense but as Stephen Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People said, ‘common sense isn’t always common practice’.
3. Coaching and Training
Many managers will not be used to carrying out the performance management practices highlighted above. Managers face many workplace distractions and people management is not always valued as an important activity. Hordes of managers that may have been the best salesperson or best engineer, are not necessarily passionate about people and may be guilty of going through the motions when it comes to performance management. Therefore, we need to help managers to understand and buy into the importance of managing people well. We need to give them the tools and methods to encourage them to learn the behaviours required for carrying out these practices. This could take the shape of coaching or training sessions.
4. Feedback and recognition
Managers need to be able to deliver specific, quality, positive feedback. This is about them catching people doing something right and recognising it. We are often so busy doing things that we take for granted what people are doing well. We don’t stop to pause and say how helpful that report was that saved me two hours. Therefore, managers need to create an ongoing climate of positive feedback or recognition, so that trust can be built. This will also make it much easier when managers need to tell their staff how to do things differently as they will have already recognised what is being done well.
This content is based on an episode of The HR Uprising Podcast, hosted by the CEO of Actus Software, Lucinda Carney. The Podcast is intended to help HR and L&D professionals to elevate the way their role within the organisation is perceived by delivering real, lasting value. Listen Here.
Register for our upcoming webinar on the topic of What works in Performance Management below.