Regardless of your opinion of the annual performance review, organizations still need to have a performance management process. Performance management is a way to provide feedback, accountability, and documentation for performance outcomes. Even organizations that are “ditching” the annual review aren’t abandoning accountability, feedback, and documentation. So, it’s important for organizations to create a process that works for them.
At this year’s Halogen TalentSpace Live, David Mennie, vice president of product marketing and strategy at Saba + Halogen, shared the five essential elements to any performance management process. As he was discussing each, I couldn’t help but wonder how organizational performance would improve if everyone just focused on these five things. That the list David shared was really a roadmap for high performing cultures. Here are the five components:
- Management Involvement. It starts here. Managers are responsible for setting performance expectations, providing feedback and coaching, and recognizing excellent work. That doesn’t happen on the sidelines. Managers need to buy into and be an active part of the performance management process.
- Goal Setting. High performing individuals and teams have a big hairy audacious goal (BHAG) that drives their performance. And company cultures that place an emphasis on goals align employee performance with that BHAG. The connection creates engagement because employees see how their work helps the company.
- Learning and Development. Once goals are set, employees need to have the knowledge and skills to do the work. Companies that want high performance need to make investments in employee learning and development. It will allow employees to accomplish their goals – both now and in the future.
- Feedback and Coaching. Employees want to know how they are performing. Because they want to do a good job. Managers should regularly tell employees about their performance – what’s good, what could be improved, and even more importantly, how to evaluate their own work. When employees can evaluate their own performance well, they can set their own goals and begin to become self-learners.
- Ongoing Conversations. This component brings the other four items (management, goals, learning, and feedback) together. Organizations should create cultures where having ongoing discussions about performance goals, learning, coaching, etc. are happening.
Now if you’re saying to yourself, “This is a great list. But it’s easier said than done”, you’re right. If the list were easy, everyone would have nailed it by now. We’d all be working on high performing teams. Mastering this list is a journey. The good news is, technology can help support many of these components. But technology isn’t a substitute for training or effective management or accountability. It’s also not a substitute for process. Organizations need to have excellent processes. Those pieces must be in place. Then, technology can effectively support the system.
Organizations cannot let the difficulty of the task keep them from creating a successful performance management process. Not taking the time to define the process isn’t fair to the employee, manager, or the technology.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby just off Duval Street in Key West, FL25