All organizations have a face to their performance management system – what it is perceived to be by its many stakeholders. These perceptions and attitudes about the system often influence behavior and motivation. For example, a negative perception of the system may lead a manager to not take the process seriously, fail to document performance, or not provide feedback to employees. A positive perception of the system, on the other hand, may lead a manager to utilize the system to help employees develop and achieve their performance objectives. It may engage employees. A few questions to consider…
- What is the face of performance management at your organization? How is it perceived by managers, employees, and even HR?
- Is your process being viewed as positive, meaningful, and valuable or just simply an administrative and compliance activity that adds no real value?
- What are the purposes of the performance management process?
- What is your organization trying to achieve by appraising each employee’s performance?
Very often, we find disconnects between what organizations are attempting to achieve through their processes and what they actually are achieving. The perceptions of these stakeholders matter to make a performance management system effective and useful. We recommend starting the conversation, because what you may find is that the performance management system may not be working, and performance management is too important to fail.
We outlined below what we feel are the core purposes of any performance management process as well as some action steps that you as HR professionals can take to better achieve that objective:
|Core Purpose||HR Action Step|
|Achieve business objectives||Link performance criteria and goals to overall business objectives.|
|Help employees understand what is expected of them||Communicate performance expectations clearly to employees.|
|Equip employees with the skills and abilities they need to meet those expectations||Identify employees’ skill development needs.|
|Provide support to help them development those skills and abilities||Identify ways to help employees develop those skills and abilities (training, coaching, etc.).|
|Offer feedback on their performance||Develop a feedback culture in which employees are constantly receiving performance and developmental feedback. Make feedback a regular occurrence – not a year-end activity. This is best done by holding supervisors accountable for developing their people and improving their performance.|
|Provide employees with the opportunity to discuss and contribute to goals||Make goal-setting a mutual discussion and activity between employees and managers.|
|Link to other HR and business areas (hiring, training, career development, succession planning, etc.)||Don’t make performance management a separate activity that isn’t linked to anything else in the business or HR department. Use the information gathered and process to enhance and integrate career development, training, succession planning, and even selection practices in the organization.|
|Document performance for compliance purposes||Create quick methods for managers to accurately and easily document performance for compliance needs. Provide training on how to appropriately document performance behaviors.|
Performance management at its best should be a positive experience focused on engaging employees through meaningful feedback and discussion. In fact, Gallup (2008) has done extensive research on managerial performance discussions with subordinates and has found that when employees receive feedback on their progress, they are not only more engaged, but also more likely to perceive the performance management process to be fair and valuable. In turn, they also view their compensation as more fair, are more likely to stay with the organization, and even recommend it as a great place to work. ERC’s research also supports the importance of performance management in engaging employees.
So take a step back and look at your performance management system. Is it engaging employees? Is it engaging managers? If not, contact ERC and we can help re-charge this important process in your organization to one that is more valuable, meaningful, and engaging.
- Performance Management Project Support – For expert consulting support on your performance management project needs, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Performance Management Training – For performance management training related to coaching, feedback, documentation, conducting a performance review, and more, please contact email@example.com.
- HR Help Desk – For guidance or sample forms, policies, and practices related to performance management or for guidance on dealing with employee performance issues, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Surveys – To benchmark your performance management practices against other local organizations, please download our latest survey and special study on appraisal forms.
Wagner, R. & Harter, J.K. (2008). The Eleventh Element of Great Managing: Why the compulsory performance evaluation is not enough. Adapted from 12: The Elements of Great Managing (Gallup Press, December 2006).