This article on performance management strategies and best practices was originally published in December 2017. All relevant statistics and copy have been updated as of March 2021.
Performance management improvements are typically a continuous project. When you think about the effectiveness of your performance management process you may ask yourself: Is my strategy working? Who’s doing it best? How can I get my team to assume accountability? In past discussions about performance management on our blog, we’ve recognized that the general process for creating a performance management strategy is as follows:
- Clearly define your performance goals — Articulate expectations and performance goals clearly and transparently.
- Invest in strong performance management software — Find a software solution that supports your needs and gets you the insight necessary to manage employee performance at your company.
- Frequently gather performance feedback — Continuously gather feedback from your employees through your software.
- Utilize peer reviews — Ask peers to evaluate their coworkers to get a holistic view of performance.
- Set regular meetings to discuss performance and goals — Frequently meet to discuss performance and follow up on your goals for accountability.
However, it is important to ask around and do some research within your industry to see what other experts are discussing. We’ve sought out thought leaders within the performance management space to see what they had to say about what it takes to create the best performance management strategy. Here’s what we discovered:
Why Is Performance Management Important For Employees?
Performance management is a necessary part of the business strategy, but why do your employees care about it? Suzan Francis, Marketing and Communications at SoftwareSuggest.com, uses the following points to identify why performance management is vital for employees:
“Clarification of Expectations - Performance management helps the employees to clarify what the organization expects them to do.”
- Suzan Francis
Some employees may not be sure of what is expected of them at work. Without knowledge of a standard to maintain, their performance lacks, and productivity drops. Leaders need to provide clear guidelines of expectations of performance to keep employees engaged and motivated at work. Additionally, setting achievable goals helps to motivate employees to take initiative in their role.
“Improved Self-assessment - It helps the employees to analyze themselves and improves self-assessment that motivates them to perform more efficiently. The continuous process of performance management improves the performance of employees and aligns their activities to the objectives of the company.”
- Suzan Francis
Self-evaluations offer many benefits for organizations. Leaders will appreciate the valuable feedback that employees offer, and employees often find deeper insights when evaluating their own work. In organizations where employees are encouraged to perform self-evaluations, productivity rates increased by up to 17%. Allow your employees space to create their own workplace goals.
“Job Satisfaction - The process of performance management includes the practice of rewards and recognition. This motivates the employees to work harder as they feel their efforts have been recognized and appreciated by the organization.”
- Suzan Francis
81% of employees say they would likely leave their job if they didn't feel appreciated. Ensuring your performance management strategy is set up for success can help engage employees and improve their performance. It will also help you to retain the top talent you’ve spent time and money hiring and training within your organization.@ClearCompany asked, the experts answered. Find out what it takes to create a successful #PerformanceManagement strategy:
How Do You Balance Employee Accountability With Employee Development In Your Performance Management Process?
Every organization needs accountability to keep its processes operating smoothly. When mistakes are made, what approach should be taken to hold the employee accountable? And how do you turn this shortcoming into an opportunity for growth in the future? Alex Mooney, a thought leader with over a decade of experience in HR, offers excellent advice on how to balance accountability with growth:
“...Be honest in your assessment of your managerial style or of the organization's: When mistakes are made, are they reprimanded or used as learning opportunities?...When mistakes are made, approach accountability through a growth mindset: ‘Did this employee have the proper training to do their job?’, ‘What tools were needed, was the employee aware of them, and were they available and used by the employee?’, ‘Was the employee operating in a silo or partnering with others’? ‘What do we know now that we wished we had known before the mistake or shortcoming - how can we incorporate that into our operations?’"
- Alex Mooney M.S. in Organization Management, HR Management emphasis
Mooney’s point about framing your thinking like a growth mindset is an excellent strategy for leaders to implement. Rather than scold employees for making mistakes, evaluate what events lead up to the error. Often, organizations cite a lack of effective communication and collaboration as the leading factor for workplace failures. Analyze the channels of communication in your organization and identify the areas that could be improved.
How Do You Collect Feedback On Management’s Performance From Your Employees?
Part of a successful performance management strategy means ensuring everyone is accountable, including managers and leaders throughout the organization. Everyone has something that can be improved, and collecting feedback from your employees is your best source. One struggle organizations often face is that employees may be nervous to evaluate their managers’ performance. Kim Scott gives us insight into how she approached these conversations with her employees:
“I recommend talking to people--manager feedback meetings...Here's how I did them:
These were conversations I had with teams without their manager in the room to get feedback on how that manager is doing. This is paradoxical because it’s the opposite of requiring joint escalation. It can also turn into a gripe session in which I disempowered the people working directly for me. So I had to conduct these meetings extremely carefully. Of course, a manager feedback session will fail if they presume guilt. The intent of these sessions is to be supportive of the people who worked for you, not undermining. Also, for your own sanity, it’s important that these manager feedback sessions not encourage people to come running to you instead of talking directly to their boss… Here are a few rules of thumb for conducting them that I learned:
- Explain it. Explain it again. Explain it both to the managers and their employees. Make sure the managers are supportive of the process.
- Ensure the meeting is “not for attribution.”
- Take notes.
- Kick-start the conversation.
- Prioritize issues.
- Share notes at the end of the meeting.
- Push managers to make and communicate changes…”
- Kim Scott, Writer/Coach
It may be challenging and require some patience, but obtaining feedback about your managers is crucial for your organization’s success. You want to ensure your top leadership fosters a culture of highly engaged and motivated employees and that your employee experience helps retain your A Players. Taking the time to evaluate organizational performance enables you to align your workplace goals and keep your teams on track.
As your organization grows and your workforce evolves, your performance management strategy will continue to evolve as well. Creating your strategy isn’t a task to take on alone, though. Using a performance management system can help you organize everything and improve your process’s effectiveness as well as plan, track, and review goals. ClearCompany’s Performance Management System has a proven track record of success in helping organizations to evaluate and track performance goals accurately. Our team of experts is standing by, ready to help you create a customized performance management strategy for your organizational needs. Sign up for your free demo now!
As the head of a department in the midst of a sustained period of rapid growth, Sara has spent thousands of hours interviewing, hiring, onboarding and assessing employees and candidates. She is passionate about sharing the best practices she has learned from both successes and failures in talent acquisition and management.