Performance appraisals have been a tricky business since time immemorial. But here are some performance management hacks to help you ease the process.
To put it simply, performance management is like a rule – easy to dictate but difficult to follow. However, if we at least try and relate the basics of management with how we live and work each day, things get a lot easier and less cumbersome. It’s good in theory but great in reality when you actually realize how much fun it can be. So what is performance management? Well, the answer is manifold. Performance management is a continuous process. Quite often, the performance management process is mistaken as a one-time thing. It most certainly is not! You have to create an organization that supports and backs employees. These performance management hacks will help you ease and ace your next evaluation cycle.
Performance management hacks in 2020
Define work with clear and attainable expectations
This is induced with a chain of connected activities about which we all know and talk about but end up playing the deleterious blame-game when things go wrong. It starts right from the time when you interview the candidate. Well, of course, you don’t get to know everything but there’s a lot you can tell in the first meeting. So, make the most of this opportunity by asking what the candidate is looking for rather than imposing your own expectations.
Following this, verify if the candidate is suitable for the responsibility or not. Introduce the candidate with relevant case scenarios and ask them how they would deal with a situation or tackle a problem.
Once done, set achievable expectations right at the beginning. Most organizations already have a pre-set document that explains the KRAs and KPIs so that the candidate and the organization are on the same page. Otherwise, at a later stage, there is a substantial mismatch in expectations and outcome with nobody there to fix the situation.
Yes, I’ll say it again. We all know about it and talk about it but before we enter 2020, let’s ensure that we remind ourselves to work on it for real for a constructive start.
Avoid setting rules because no one likes them anymore
Wait, let’s rephrase that. Avoid setting rules because most of us end up breaking them anyway. Especially when you work with millennials, who are either fresh out of college or in the early stages of their career. Rules may have worked really well for some organizations but not all of them solve the same problem in the society, do they? There might be a case where rules start building walls within the corporate without showing any prior visible signs. In the end, it only affects the team performance and leads to intricate problems that are difficult to deal with.
Breaking rules is not a shortcoming that we are trying to avoid or overcome. It’s a new age development that empowered companies like Apple, Google, Amazon, and others in their nascent stage to grow with a unique approach. They flourished at a time when ‘break the rules’ was popular in each and every industry and we have been inseparable from this phrase to date.
Offer perks before demanding favors or expecting ad-hocs
I am currently reading this book that talks about the psychology behind persuasion. The book has nearly 500 pages that talks about the same thing, which is persuasion, but the number and variety of examples it explains are countless.
In one of the experiments, a person was showing a few paintings to a customer in an exhibition. Case one, the person went out for a while and brought back 2 bottles of coca-cola, one for himself and one for the customer. Case two, the person goes out but brings back only 1 coca-cola for himself. Next, the person asks the customer a favor to buy some of the unsold games tickets from him.
Case one – 93% of customers bought more tickets from him than he expected.
Case two – Less than 40% of customers bought the tickets.
Now you know what I am talking about. If you expect a team member to go out of the way and get a particular job done, they would (obviously) expect something in return. It is definitely not necessary but employee encouragement is key in performance management. In fact, returning a favor has been a part of an age-old human culture and it fits perfectly well for corporates too. Rewards and recognition can go a long way.
Create a culture that’s disciplined enough to be fun
No, am not talking about the strictness and severity we experienced back in school. When I say discipline, I mean having a sense of belongingness, responsibility and mutual respect for each other’s ideas, work and space. Without this, I don’t think it’s even possible to think about managing a team.
It’s absolutely okay to take breaks, go on a vacation, take some time off and resume work after a sabbatical but it’s definitely not okay to be at work and not perform. Therefore, it is undoubtedly necessary to create an open, flexible culture that promotes your team to function rather than bringing them down. Company culture pronounces the personality of an organization and plays a crucial role in employee management and engagement.
A mistake is like your ex, get over them and move on
This is one of my favourite performance management hack and, of course, the reasons are manifold. When it’s time for a manager to review the team performance, there are certain things they must keep in mind before they move forward.
- If it was a team error, talk about the entire team rather than a single person
- Take lessons from things that went wrong and don’t mourn them
Long story short – We all make mistakes but economically it would be a wise decision to simply take learnings, get over it and move on to a new, better project. In fact, Economics has taught us Frugal Innovation. We cut down costs and let go of complexities to produce goods for certain overlooked markets for greater profits.
So, how do you pick your top performer? Different managers and team leads give different answers, like someone who is-
- Available on-call 24X7
- An all-rounder
- Great thinker and innovator
- Confident speaker
- Great at the sales pitch and business development
Yes, a top performer can be anybody. But the ideal person would be a great problem solver. He or she should be the go-to person when things go wrong. When you stick to this principle, performance reviews and feedback session would become easy while managing the team’s performance.
Train your brain to discard unconscious bias
How do you ensure that you have a fair performance management system in your organization? Even if you come up with a fair plan, how would you decide whether it is fair for everyone in your team?
For this, you have to constantly remind yourself that you cannot favor a particular team member or act against him/her. Moreover, you cannot be biased towards a particular project. Or not want to invest time and resources on another project because you personally aren’t comfortable with it.
The reason why I am emphasizing this point is that it does get difficult at times. However, conducting a fair performance review and feedback session is a manager’s responsibility. It directly affects the data and the big numbers for the company.
Further to the previous point – it’s not always about the money
Money is a highly important yet fungible resource. Most millennials are not even concerned about the CTC or the numbers that are credited into their salary accounts. The ones who are, they end up in MBA colleges anyway. All a millennial or a true performer is looking for today is opportunity and motivation. I mean, of course, money is a necessity to pay bills and party but is that all performers are looking for? I don’t think so.
Reach out because everyone/everything won’t come to you
One of the many tasks of a manager is to be connected with their team members. And also, stay updated with their daily tasks and long-term projects that they are working on. Staying up-to-date with your team’s tasks helps a great deal when you have to provide scores, ratings and feedback every quarter or whenever you conduct performance reviews. In fact, you best remember the critical nuances at the time of making an observation. Irrespective of how much you would want to recollect it all later, you might remember hardly 40% of it.
Always reach out, stay connected, ask for updates and participate with your team as much as possible. You may be the leader who stands out but if you want your team to stand you will have to be a part of it.
Lastly, don’t forget to talk
Finally, we talk about the ‘talk’. As long as we have a company to run, sales to make and targets to meet, there is no alternative to having a conversation. Performance management starts and ends with this and the rest is upon the personal jurisdiction of the manager. But, don’t forget to talk. The whole purpose of performance management is to curate a better workplace which would
I will break it all down in simple words. It’s not about our morals, principles or values with which we have been brought up. It’s also not about the left-wing vs right-wing philosophy where people divide and vote for the best. Or the most ideal employee engagement approach because there isn’t one. There can never be. Therefore, it’s all about working with a team in which the members are at least comfortable discussing tasks. Even if they may not like each other all the time. Being a manager, it is your responsibility to make sure that you get it done.
It's okay to feel clueless and confused. At the end of the day, all that matters is you create a workspace which delivers a great employee experience. A workplace that cares for employee satisfaction and employee happiness. Have you tried any of these performance management hacks? Do let us know!