Employee performance management and improvement is an increasingly popular topic in today’s workplace. And the reasons are not much of a secret – they directly correlate to how profitable the business is and determine its very survival. Create a workforce of nonperforming employees and your business might very well land on its deathbed before long. On the flip side, create an effective workforce and you’re no doubt on your way to success.
What makes the difference between these two extreme scenarios, and more middle-of-the-road ones, is often something less obvious: the employee performance management process.
So, what is performance management process you keep saying?
Most people think of the performance management process as performance reviews or appraisals. But, while this idea is not too far off the mark, the actual performance management process involves much more.
Many companies have great employee appraisals that represent a summary of an ongoing rich dialogue. However, companies that focus solely on annual appraisal forms risk misunderstanding the process of performance management.
Companies that follow this – rather old-timey – model may significantly underappreciate the benefits of a more well-rounded and holistic employee performance management process.
As it is, organizations often put in place a number of measures to create an enabling work environment. The HR function is normally hands-on in this regard. All such activities that create an environment where people can perform more productively are parts of the process of performance management.
Ideally, the process should be effective enough to enable managers to evaluate and measure individual performance disregarding all other impeding factors. This evaluation forms the backdrop against which managers can then optimize productivity across the organization.
The process is both strategic and operational and largely aims to ensure that employees contribute gainfully to the organization’s objectives. It defines the organization’s interaction with staff at every level and encompasses the full range of HR activities and processes.
1. Employee appraisals or reviews
3. Learning and development within the business structure
4. Business objectives and performance standards
5. Performance measurement practices
While all these components constitute the employee performance management process, they do not really count as much in isolation, as individual components. They must be considered together as cogs in the employee management engine.
An effective performance management system focuses on aligning the workforce, improving employee development and performance, building competencies within the work environment and eventually driving better business results.
A poor performance management process, however, can hurt the business in significant ways.
What constitutes a poor performance management process?
Normally, employees and managers need to equally take part in the entire process of developing and managing staff performance. But there are cases where some groups feel left out of the process.
Regardless of which employees have alienated themselves or have become alienated from the process, for whatever reason, the results are common, and they are bad.
Employees in such a system will not understand the process of performance management. And this is a recipe for rejection.
As a symptom of a failed performance management system, you’ll see employees do not accept or value the workplace culture. They tend to view the process as subjective, and not addressing their issues properly. As a result, they lose motivation and do not perform at their best and this ultimately hurts the business’ overall productivity.
But let’s have a look at the other side of the spectrum…
The benefits of effective performance management process
A business with the right employee performance management process is in a better position to retain great talents.
Employees tend to be happy and fully aware of what’s required of them within the company. They tend to have their career paths clearly defined and this significantly promotes job satisfaction.
The system naturally ensures that employees understand the importance of the contributions they make to the business. With such awareness, staff members are motivated to contribute to the business’ goals and objectives, improving organizational performance.
As a result, the business is likely to have great employee loyalty and high retention rates – and all these will translate to cost-cutting, especially the cost of recruitment.
Overall, a good performance management process works to ensure the achievement of the overall organizational goals and ambitions by ensuring:
· Proper alignment of objectives and effective communication throughout the organization.
· Employees possess the requisite skills to fulfill what is expected of them.
· Harmonious and cordial relationship between individual employees and the line managers based on empowerment and trust.
· Efficiency and consistency in performance.
How to improve the employee performance management process
You might have the worst performance management system in your organization. But with the right performance management process checklist, you can turn things around.
1. Make performance management an opportunity for performance coaching
The HR role in the performance management process is not just to correct poor performance, neither is it to focus only on reviewing salaries. Rather, an effective performance management system takes a more holistic approach.
Instead of building your employee performance management process around correcting poor performance, let it take the form of coaching opportunities instead.
Also, be sure to make performance management meetings and conversations a frequent activity. They’ll be more engaging and staff will start looking forward to them.
Once a month, have a session where you meet with your staff and give them tips on how to improve their performance. Understand the areas where they want to improve and provide them with the needed coaching.
2. Provide employees with positive reinforcement
Positive reinforcement is no jargon, it’s simply a token of encouragement. Positive reinforcement is a powerful motivator to every team. It rewards positive employee behavior and effectively strengthens the spirit of positive conduct.
Teams that are positively reinforced are likely to deliver better results over and over. This improves the individual’s self-esteem, which ultimately reflects in employees’ improved confidence at work.
Remember that people feel recognized and respected when you listen to them. Listen to your employees and they’ll feel important. They may confidently offer helpful suggestions that could benefit the organization’s bigger picture.
3. Align your performance management reviews with what you’re reviewing
You can choose your employees’ performance evaluation method based on the type and size of your business, but whichever method you might discover is right for you, make sure it makes sense for the item under review.
Notice that different jobs have different requirements. The review process will be much easier and more targeted if there are separate evaluations for various job categories.
The non-administrative staff, for instance, should have different processes from those used by administrative staff. In other words, the performance review process for a worker on the line of a factory is almost certainly not the same as a junior marketing executive.
Similarly, the sales personnel should have a different way of gauging performance than management staff. This kind of targeting not only helps your performance appraisal but your entire employee performance management process.
4. Provide ample opportunities for learning and development
Career growth is a vital component of the employee performance management process.
Essentially you want to create a capable workforce that can easily deliver the outcomes you desire. And an effective way to hone your employees’ skills and abilities is by providing them with enough opportunities for developing those skills.
Even more importantly, ensure there is enough representation of the employees in leadership development programs.
5. Provide feedback effectively
Employees want to know what they do right and what areas they need to improve on. You can only let them know these things by providing effective feedback.
It is important to keep your feedback objective, but personal. You don’t want your employees to feel hurt by your feedback, but they should know that you’ve given it thought.
Remember to provide feedback on one or only a few items at a time, and try to keep it as recent as possible. An employee will find it easier to process information on a specific behavior as opposed to many things they have done over a long period of time or a very long time ago.
More importantly, provide feedback promptly. When someone does something good, let them know it. If their behavior has been less than appropriate, tell them before the situation decays.
There’s no denying that approaches to improving the employee performance management process may be unique from one company to the other. Nonetheless, when implemented effectively, these practices will result in a wide range of benefits for both the employees and the managers.