performance management

Effective Employee Performance Management: The 3 P’s

 

Throughout the last 17 years as vendors of performance management software, we have coincided with dozens of HR pros every day to discuss the problems and challenges surrounding performance reviews. The findings weren’t all too surprising, as obvious issues were caused by 3 main categories, the 3 P’s of performance management – Purpose, People and Process.

These vital aspects that comprise your performance management strategy can make or break this business process for your entire company, risking the negative effects to cause long-term strains. The good news is there just might be an easier fix than you think. We often see great processes and forms, but the content, intent, or the right approach is missing, but something as small as a poorly worded rating scale, or a vague list of competencies turns users off entirely.

Whether you’re looking to update your appraisal forms and methods, want to rebuild your performance strategy completely, or are just curious as to what aspects of evaluations you could be optimising further, read our guide on effective performance management…

 

What Performance Management Is & The 3 P’s

 

Purpose

One of the biggest and most common challenges we see with rolling out a successful performance management strategy throughout a company is the disconnect between the plan and what the organisation is looking to gain from it.

Legacy processes often leave HR and other employees questioning if they are simply going through the motions and doing it just for the sake of it. Time is money for businesses, and every minute spent on performance management tasks and activities should ultimately equate to valuable learnings for the business and everyone involved.

When evaluating your performance management strategy while analysing both the good and the bad, take a step back and ask yourself these questions about the purpose of the strategy…

  • What perceived value do you want your employees and managers to extract at every stage? What will they gain from it?
  • What value should the business expect and what will the performance indicators be?
  • What key metrics are you looking to collect and analyse for decision-making?
  • What content should be included in your forms or system? Goals? Values? Development Plans? Skills?
  • What regulations or regulatory bodies (if applicable) are in place (like accreditation requirements or union standards) that might dictate some of the formats?
  • What cultural or organisational values/drivers should be incorporated into the design and why?
  • What issues are you looking to analyse or overcome with a new strategy?

Narrowing your company’s performance management ‘purpose’ will help when designing or updating your strategy and content – this will ensure the findings will be easy to portray and be easily understood by your colleagues and employees.

 

People

Performance management starts and ends with people – it’s that simple. Who is involved, how much they are involved, and why they are involved can make a giant difference as to whether or not employees and managers get on board and stay for their own benefit.

HR might have a vision of a long-term performance management strategy in mind or in place, but unless people are considered and factored in, it will remain unrealised. Here are some important ‘People’ aspects that should be considered…

 

Getting Support from Leaders

Company leaders should not only support HR’s performance management vision and processes, but they should also champion it. Like any other company initiative, process, or expectation, leadership buy-in is key to ensuring your performance management engine keeps running smoothly. In his Harvard Business Review article entitled, ‘The Hard Side of Change’, author Harold L. Sirkin notes that ‘if employees don’t see that the company’s leadership is backing a project, they’re unlikely to change’. Involve your company’s leadership team in performance management planning – give them a say in how the process will work and share useful metrics that will fuel their ability to lead the company. Ensure expectations are clear on their follow-through and commitment while reinforcing regularly.

 

Promoting Self-Assessment of Employees

If you don’t already involve employees in the process, we recommend doing just that. Giving employees a voice and a chance to share their perspectives shifts the focus away from managers and onto employees to participate in a more balanced, two-way conversation. Having employees self-assess also lets managers gauge the employee’s thoughts and stances prior to any meetings. We recommend letting employees update their goals in real-time, allowing them to comment on achievements and development needs, and also allowing them to rate their own competencies and skills and provide examples to support their self-ratings.

 

Involving Workforce & Provide Feedback

The effect of an employee’s day-to-day performance isn’t restricted to the confines of the employee-manager relationship – so, why should reviews be? Employees often work with multiple managers or teams to accomplish their goals – reviews that incorporate manager-only input risk leaving out a giant piece of the ‘performance picture’.

When you think of the people who should be involved in the process, think beyond managers and second-level supervisors and envision a company-wide input. This can be in the form of informal feedback such as an email, a survey, or if you want to get really into details, allowing employees and managers to request formal 360° input on their competencies and/or goals. The idea is to create a culture where employees know that their daily behaviours and actions are being recognised by managers and factored into their evaluation.

As an added bonus, input from others helps managers provide more accurate reviews and much better feedback as they often uncover observations they would have missed without such valuable insight.

 

Sharing Effective Feedback Methods

Often, getting employees involved is only the first hurdle, whereas ensuring that they understand and absorb feedback correctly is another. Even the best performance review process can be pointless in the eyes of employees if managers aren’t providing the right feedback or if 360° reviewers aren’t focusing on behaviours over opinions. We recommend communicating with your workforce on the purpose behind feedback and sharing tips and expectations for what the feedback should focus on and when it should be given.

 

Process

The last ‘P’ relates to the “Process” and how the performance management strategy operates and appears at any stage of the year or cycle. There is no denying that traditional once-a-year appraisals fall far short of providing employees with the input they need to grow and ensuring that organisational performance goals are consistently met. Many organisations are revamping their processes to include more frequent check-ins and communication channels between managers and employees, fostering an ongoing conversation about goal progress and employee feedback. While this concept sounds promising in theory, the reality is that each company should design its own process, taking into account its unique circumstances and requirements.

 

The effectiveness of a company’s performance management process relies on the previous two ‘P’s: Purpose and People, as well as two other key factors…

  1. The existing performance management framework in place within the organisation
  2. The prevailing company culture

 

Let’s dive into a common scenario – if a company has long-serving managers accustomed to annual 25-minute appraisals held every January, it becomes challenging to introduce formal monthly or quarterly check-ins without facing some resistance. In such cases, we recommend that clients devise a transition strategy, clearly communicating the desired trajectory and what will be expected from the workforce. For organisations aiming to transition from annual appraisals to a more continuous performance management process, a gradual implementation is advisable. Begin with a mid-year check-in accompanied by informal feedback and performance journals, then progress to quarterly reviews, and eventually monthly assessments.

In situations where companies operate on long-term projects, annual appraisals may not be suitable. Instead, the company might opt for ad-hoc project evaluations, supplemented by 30-60-90 day check-ins for new hires.

 

For new companies or those experiencing rapid growth, particularly with feedback-oriented millennial and Gen Z employees, a swift overhaul of the performance management process, dismantling the old and implementing a completely new and ongoing system, may be the most effective strategy, warmly embraced by all.

Larger or more complex organisations may require multiple processes to meet the specific needs of individual locations or divisions. The key takeaway here is that your company’s performance management process should be tailored to reflect your organisation’s goals and unique identity, rather than being influenced by what others may utilise.

With emPerform, launching a modern performance management program to engage your talent has never been easier. Click here to book a demo today.

 

Align, Develop & Retain Top Talent with emPerform

emPerform includes the tools needed to identify and engage high-performing teams. With online reviews, year-round goal tracking, ongoing feedback, pulse surveys & complete merit & bonus management – you can create a performance program that drives engagement & results.

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