Improve Engagement with These Performance Management Best Practices

Leanne Buehler, Ph.D., Managing Partner & VP of Consulting SolutionsEmployee EngagementLeave a Comment

Constructive feedback, recognition, skill development, and the opportunities to share new ideas are classic drivers of employee engagement. The common theme through these items is the performance management process, and, not surprisingly, these items are often highly correlated to one another.

Many of our clients are re-thinking performance management, and rightly so – the approaches and best practices have changed dramatically in the last 10 years. Many organizations are moving from a once a year, time-intensive, and often-dreaded process to figuring out how to provide more real-time, constructive feedback. The idea is to shift the focus from an administrative activity that is focused on previous behaviors to one that is future-oriented with the emphasis on improving performance.

There are many approaches organizations are experimenting with to accomplish this goal: from simplifying the performance evaluation ratings (or doing away with ratings) to implementing opportunities for peer feedback and recognition to apps that allow for just-in-time feedback. There is no one-size-fits all solution and the best process largely depends on the purpose of performance management process (i.e. what are performance reviews used for?), the types of job, the employee’s level in the organization, etc.

Newmeasures’ clients have been implementing many innovative ideas for re-vamping the performance management process. Here are a few that we love:

-Pack more punch into one-on-one meetings. One-on-one meetings between a leader and his/her direct reports are not new, but provide some structure for the conversation can increase the value. Simple formats for discussion that includes topics like: 1) what’s going well; 2) what are your challenges this week? 3) how can I help? give managers conversation starters that lead to powerful one-on-one discussions.
Some of our clients have implemented Discussion Topics lists for one-on-one meetings. The idea of these topics is for a supervisor and direct report to discuss a different topic each meeting. The topics range from career goals to how employees prefer to receive recognition to the supervisor/employee relationship.This is a great way for to ensure managers are raising important topics that can easily get pushed to the side for conversations focused projects and deliverables.
-Time performance conversations to match the cadence of the work. Rather than doing a mid-year and end-of-year performance review, many organizations are changing the timing of their performance review process to match the natural ebbs and flows of the work itself. For example, if work is centered around reaching quarterly goals, quarterly performance check-ins are a great idea. If work is project focused, time performance discussions to happen at the end of a project.
-Make recognition just-in-time and unexpected. Rather than waiting for the monthly employee-of-the-month program, time recognition so that it matches the timing of employee accomplishments. Small but meaningful spot bonuses that are unexpected can be more meaningful than waiting for the annual raise. And, don’t just send recognition in an email, but look for opportunities in team meetings to publically praise the employee. Finally, be mindful of not just recognizing the accomplishment of tangible results, but also look for opportunities to recognize great examples of living the company values.

For more cutting-edge ideas in best practices in performance management, check out the resources below:

-Building a High-Performance Culture: A Fresh Look at Performance Management

-Talent Practices for the 21st Century: An interview with Ellyn Shook, Chief Leadership & Human Resources Officer of Accenture