You can hear the groans. The annual review is not the favorite time for most employees or their managers. Both parties spend time and effort recalling the year’s events and getting them down on paper only to have a deflating discussion about things that should have been done differently and ways to improve on them next year! All for a 3% increase and a pledge that we shall do this again next year.
We exaggerate of course but you get the point. It shouldn’t be this way.
Organizing what is expected from your employees and targeting a level of achievement cannot be a one-time event. How did we persevere with this thinking for so long?
Most employers recognize the benefits of an engaged workforce; teams that think and act in tandem, behaving in a manner that helps colleagues, removes the barriers to organizational success and moves the business toward its goals.
The first step perhaps, is making sure that everyone knows the overall direction of the business and broadly, not only their share of that burden but in outline, that of their colleagues.
Your 2013 plan is now into implementation but are all employees aware of its content, their share and how the rest is distributed? Think about a town hall meeting to share the content and gather input.
Your next task is to break these down into functional and individual tasks and goals and to figure out how you will engage your teams in making this happen and how progress is to be measured?
Try launching these in a team setting rather than individual by individual, reinforcing a team approach to achievement and “group” help. Customers are fickle, challenges are complex and organizations need to be nimble in nudging and adjusting performance to stay on track. You’ll quickly get a sense if when too much but more communication is better and means less time in those turgid year end one on one sessions.
For example if improving project support is one of your strategic objectives for the Corporate office each department and employee should be assigned goals with performance targets that improves the level of support. Support data is should then be reported throughout the company to track group progress. Goals that stem from your business plan should form the base of performance management and need to track and measure what matters to your business.
We’ve all experienced ineffective performance conversations from Managers that mean well. What frustrated you about those discussions? Were they were not timely, did they not recognize why you made a decision or took the action you did, did they seem unfair?
With a little reflection and some planning you can avoid these criticisms. All of us (well nearly all) want to do good work. Your people want to have their efforts acknowledged even if they didn’t hit the bullseye every time. Try and have performance conversations in the moment, throughout the year balancing both positive and negative feedback. Make the call whether feedback can be provided casually or formally in a confidential setting but make it frequent and timely. Couch negative feedback in terms of areas for improvement and personal growth.
Performance management gets a bad rap, often characterized as an exercise in manipulating the system to obtain a bigger pay increase – gaming!
Clear, transparent feedback on achievement both individual and group will help avoid this. Use metrics wherever possible and focus on the “how’s” as well as the “what” of achievement. If you must have a rating system make sure employees know where they stand and why and what is required to take them to the next level. Your managers when assessing their staff need to have a common understanding of the performance characterized by each rating to ensure consistent application.
Managing achievement is a better way to describe the performance process and when successful it happens intuitively, as an active part of day to day leadership. When couched in terms of communicating and implementing your business plan it has the potential to improve business results as well as an individual’s contributions.