Performance management is a one-on-one process that managers conduct with employees for increasing alignment with organizational objectives alongside developing and reinforcing individual strengths. This individualized process should be undertaken regularly to ensure better employee experience and developing employees’ fullest potential for organizational success. Usually conducted by Managers in conjunction with Human Resources department, this process of aligning talent with the greater business vision and mission involves measuring, reporting and improving the outcomes of employees’ work performance. With digital transformation, companies globally have turned their attention to a performance management system, which helps fasten and smoothen the procedure. Despite automation doing its bit, the process stands complete only when leaders analyze the quantified data and engage in decision-making for improving employees’ performance consistently.
Thats the ideal state of what it should be. In reality it is a stressful chaotic process. Organizations look for as much subjective information as possible making the process cumbersome and chaotic. Most leaders find it ineffective and treat it as a chore that needs to be completed rather than something that would add value and grow their teams.
The result, dissatisfied employees and leaders. How can an organization make the process more effective? How can human resources focus on making the process something that is engaged with its true objectives rather than a rating evaluation that leads to a pay hike.
With one of peopleHum’s many niche specializations being performance management, we have evolved a system after noticing several changing trends in organizations, especially in the New Normal. The four different phases of this process include:
- No performance management system
- Homegrown performance management
- Customizable performance management
- Targeted performance management
Let’s hop on a journey through the different phases of employee performance management and get equipped with strategies to manoeuvre challenges that arise along the way.
1. No performance management system
When an organization is still in its nascent stages with very few employees, you can simply turn your chair, spend time understanding an employee’s concerns, give a crisp high-five and crack jokes. Conducting performance management in a detailed manner with each one is no big deal. It is when a business expands in size and complexity that a simple, routine process can transform into a mammoth task.
As an organization gets a wider reach, employees find it harder to interact and collaborate with each other since business functions and processes become unwieldy. High-fives may cease to exist and office gossip may exacebrate. This doesn’t mean that leaders wouldn’t know who their employees are or what roles they are assigned. It is just that managers and leaders wouldn’t know their employees “enough”, leading to a gap in communication and expectation.
Haven’t you noticed when your boss recognizes a team’s contribution, he/she often utters names of some individuals at the forefront but chooses to praise sub-departments as a group who executed the work? There’s no doubt that group recognition does wonders to empower employees as a team. But constantly applauding a group without providing enough individual recognition could prove detrimental since employees would assume no personal accountability for task achievemen
To keep employees motivated, managers should ensure that individual employees are recognised for their contributions in the same way as employees should acknowledge the company's worth and strive to be an asset to the organization! And there’s no better way to do this other than on an effective performance management system.
2. Homegrown Performance Management
Oftentimes, companies do not realize the importance of conducting performance management assessments. Without much deep thought, they opt for a quick-fix like spreadsheets. Little do they know that quick fixes come at a cost, often lesser quality and sustainability..
With the onset of a digitized world, it makes more sense for companies to invest in a long-term performance management system, which guarantees consistency, efficiency and positive results. In a smooth, quick and convenient way, automated performance management sets to achieve its tasks so that employees can focus better on their work.
Let us take a step back and focus on why manual performance assessments are not as efficient as cutting-edge softwares -
A manual performance review could have sub-conscious bias on the part of the reviewer, which could result in unnecessary contention and office politics. Unlike a software that acts neutral and which would not bring any biased questions and arguments to the table, manual assessments would make the entire process less objective with the manager’s personal feelings and experiences playing a deciding role.
Performance management processes need to address the subjectivities of each employee in the organization. Although the human touch can be enabled with manual performance reviews, an employee may be more at ease to confide personal issues within the process and highlight the circumstances in which results were achieved. For organizations focussed towards continuous improvements, there is also a plethora of information in the performance management process to improve overall employee experience if done with a 360 degree and external feedback rather than a leadership one way evaluation. In addition to this, employers are unaware how to accurately quantify and measure subjective experiences.
Performance management involves a ‘during’ and a ‘post’ phase. Homegrown management where employers interact with employees in the ‘during’ phase leads them to concentrate on the ‘post’ phase less. The entire process of enjoying getting to know employees on a one-on-one basis gets defeated when employers find it hard and time consuming to format documents and spreadsheets later. Besides this, it is a lengthy process to compile, analyse data and produce results for implementation.
Impact hard to perceive
To take into account individual employee experiences and bring changes in behavior, performance management assessments need to happen while the behavior is recent. In other words, with conducting reviews of many employees on the same day, managers may make organizational changes based on recent experiences instead of accurately remembering what happened. The employer’s mood and factors like monotony of assessing, boredom may lead to managers themselves being responsible for poor performance reviews.
Performance data needs to be submitted and decoded correctly.
Data doesn’t tell stories. People tell stories using data. Connecting the dots in a way that makes sense is the end goal of performance management. Recording employees’ experiences and feedback in the right way, without room for misinterpretation can be a challenge sometimes. Meaningful analysis and other administrative tasks may not be done optimally by an employer since his/her forte would be in a different field of work altogether. This would lead to discrepancies in the data, thus making the process redundant.
Taken all together, trying to support these performance management standards with a basic office software becomes untenable.
Stage 3: Customizable Performance Management
Two things that need to be kept in mind before jumping to automated performance management are
1) The right strategy for measuring performance and
2) Choosing appropriate tools that support the strategy.
Although companies would want a good return on investment in performance management technology, there needs to be a balance in opting for features in automated assessments while choosing customisation options. In other words, the size of the company, range of departments and individual employee functions all play a role in determining how many features to opt for. Having too many performance management features can hamper a company's strategy just as much as not having enough.
For example, having a tool of feeding in individual questions for each employee would work better in a comparatively smaller organization rather than larger ones. Similarly, features like surveys can prove beneficial in bigger companies.
Another aspect of automated performance evaluation is that even if an organization finds a software with infinite potential for processing data, one still needs to consider the limits on how much data humans can process. Sooner or later, it is an HR professional, who will need to connect all the dots recorded in the performance management platforms if the organization wants to use the data to influence decisions.
In addition, performance management software is only good and reliable as long as employees choose to report factual data. If employees feel performance management is a waste of time or a test of loyalty, you run the risk of low participation or sanitized responses, which can obviously lead to inaccurate conclusions.
Stage 4: Targeted Performance Management platform
So what does it really take to develop a performance management system that introduces a formal structure, is not time consuming, compensates for subjectivity and human biases and encourages everyone in the organization to participate? Here are a few pointers for using an automated performance management strategy like peopleHum that solves all of these problems.
Developing a strategy that aligns with the organizational purpose is what would lead to success. Performance management is no exception to this. There is no hard-and-fast rule that automated performance assessments need to be centred on technology. If your company thrives on open communication and transparency, get that reflected in your performance reviews by conducting open and honest routine check-ins between managers and employees. Technology should support by reporting long-term trends, helping employees track their goals and empowering managers to track employee engagement by team, position and other demographics.
Spacing out and regularizing performance reviews
Spacing out performance assessments into smaller segments throughout the year helps evade the year-end crush of conducting annual reviews. Making performance evaluations a regular cadence is what would result in frequent communication between managers and employees alongside getting a pulse of the workforce.
Automate employee reminders
In order to make the process a routine phenomenon, performance management software sends out automated reminders for everyone involved in quarterly, semi-annual or annual performance assessments. This frees managers from the daunting task of constantly reminding employees to conduct a review and lets employees provide their feedback during less-demanding parts of their workday.
Standardize performance assessment questions
Looking to protect employee work evaluations from unintentional bias and overlong assessments? All you’ve got to do is standardize the performance assessment questions. Get into the groove of knowing what to ask, how to question and how to draw conclusions with the results. Sameness in question type has also proved successful in various organizations as long as they include the organization’s mission, vision and values.
Add software tools in a mindful way
Performance management can be part of an extensive employee experience toolkit. Along with performance management software, incorporating rewards and recognition, employee satisfaction surveys and compensation research can provide more insights for retaining employees and helping them do their best in the long term.
The ball is in your court now. Be mindful while making the right decision since the best performance management software for your organization will align with your current needs, respect the value of your employees’ time, and provide clear, accurate insights on how your people can grow and succeed by upskilling themselves. It is noteworthy to conclude with Lao Tzu’s famous quote, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”!
peopleHum has developed a flexible and effective way to improve performance management in any organization or industry and could help improve evaluation parameters and overall efficacy with its accessibility and simplicity of use. It also provides for an easy way to sort and view where performance issues exists including factors like organizational alignment and mindfulness of people which is a powerful feature for crafting training or other remediations.
Schedule a demo today to experience the power of a tool that would help you conduct your performance assessments the right way.