A company is only as successful as its employees, so how do you make sure you’re getting the best out of your team? Recruiting the best talent is really only half the battle – making sure you help them access their full potential is an entirely different proposition. Unfortunately, performance management is not an exact science, and many companies are really struggling to crack the code. In fact, only 8 percent of employers say that their performance management process drives high levels of value, and 58 percent report that it’s an inefficient use of time altogether.

There’s evidence all around of poor performance management processes, and the problem is unlikely to be fixed overnight. But perhaps it’s helpful to start by implementing a few strategic changes:

  1. Clarify and agree on expectations. The best way to review an employee’s performance is to set up goals to measure against. Use this opportunity to clarify expectations and allow the employee to provide input, voice concerns, and ask questions. Once you’ve agreed upon key goals, document your plan. This will be helpful for an employee to use throughout the quarter to guide their performance. It also avoids any surprises during formal reviews.
  2. Recognize achievements and identify areas of improvement. Negative feedback can help improve employee performance, but only if handled correctly. Constructive feedback should not be a slap on the hand; it should be framed as an opportunity for growth. Make sure you communicate what exactly needs to improve, and then set up a plan with the employee to help them get there. It’s also important not to neglect your employees’ achievements. Reward employees for their accomplishments and reinforce the skills that are serving your team well.
  3. Make feedback continuous. Employees crave regular feedback. In fact, there’s a 15 percent lower turnover rate for companies who provide feedback on a regular basis. Providing feedback on a continuous basis will help to reinforce actions done right and improve areas that need work. While you don’t need to do a full performance review every month, it may be helpful to touch base with employees on key areas of their performance on a regular basis. It’s also worth noting that employees are four times more likely to perform well when they review their personal goals quarterly.
  4. Provide tools, time and training. It’s really important for employees to feel capable of executing assignments correctly and on time. Make sure that you’re providing the tools, time, and training that employees need to do their job well. Employees who feel like their employers are not enabling them to succeed are unlikely to stay put for long.
  5. Share the big picture. Employees are well aware that their work is not happening in a vacuum. In addition to communicating individual or team goals, make sure to communicate broader department and business goals. Help employees understand what they are working toward along with their peers. In a company, no man should be an island, so make sure your employees feel their performance is contributing to a bigger picture.

A final tip: There’s more to performance management than checks against key performance metrics. When managers foster relationships with employees that enable open dialogue and consistent collaboration, performance management will happen daily – and likely more effectively than in an annual review alone.

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