What You Need to do to Make Your Engagement Strategy More Effective

Employee performance management trends are in constant evolution due to the different needs of five generations all in the workplace at once. Poor performance management strategies will leave you with disengaged employees and high turnover rates, but finding ways to keep up with the changing trends can be difficult.

My company, Quantum Workplace, surveyed 300 organizations for our State Of Employee Feedback report and found 50% of highly engaged organizations are placing higher importance on performance management. These highly engaged organizations understand what’s missing in their employee management strategy and are prepared to make the changes — are you?

Here’s what you need to add and trash when it comes to your performance management strategy:

Recognition

This word is worth repeating because positive feedback should be given on an ongoing basis. Results from the State Of Employee Feedback report show 41% of organizations describing themselves as “highly engaged” reported their recognition program is becoming more important; 44% of disengaged organizations don’t have a recognition program in place at all.

Management is not always able to accurately assess individual, day-to-day performance and immediately recognize a job well done, but peers working alongside each other can. Consider implementing easy-to-use and engaging online recognition software into your strategy to make peer recognition simple and fun. Employees who receive recognition have an engagement levels almost three times higher (76%) than those who do not (28%).

In a successful peer-to-peer crediting system, management is hands off — except for the budget of course. Employees can extend a bonus with some words of recognition or a simple thank-you to their peers. This reward system creates a fun, challenging, and collaborative environment for co-workers to motivate each other.

Don’t forget to show your appreciation, too. Be sure those high-fives and thank-yous are genuine and personal. Globoforce’s 2013 Empowering Employees to Improve Employee Performance report found positive feedback has been shown to motivate 89% of employees. If you’re not recognizing your employees, the majority of your team may already be disengaged.

Feedback from peers

Believe it or not, your opinion as a leader isn’t the only one that matters to employees. Peer-to-peer reviews are very important to employee productivity and engagement.

In our survey we found only 15% of organizations have a formal form of peer feedback in place. Considering the Globoforce report found 88% of peer-reviewed employees are happier with their jobs — I’d say it’s time to start incorporating unique ways for peers to give each other feedback.

Set up a group forum where employees can offer each other constructive feedback when working on collaborative projects or offer advice and ask questions about particular clients. Establish an evaluation system in which employees can review one another’s performance and mentor each other to grow as a team.

Peer reviews shouldn’t feel like extra work. If they do, employees will not take them seriously and it will be harder to gauge improvements over time. In fact, if employees feel like they are being shamed or forced to call out their colleagues for less-than-stellar performance, engagement could suffer. Make sure to discuss peer reviews with your team and create a strategy that speaks to your culture.

One-on-one conversations

Out with the old and in with the productive. Traditional annual reviews are not just outdated, they’re harmful to both employees and organizations. Employers are finding the annual review is not only decreasingly helpful for performance management, but actually detrimental to employee engagement.

Switching to more frequent performance conversations helps leaders engage employees. A remarkable — and disheartening — 77.8% of organizations still using annual performance reviews report their employees are disengaged, according to The State of Employee Feedback survey. The survey also revealed that 85.7% of highly engaged organizations use one-on-ones in their performance management strategy.

Determine how often employees would like one-on-one meetings to check in on their performance. Keep in mind, The State of Employee Feedback survey found 54.6% of highly engaged organizations are meeting at least monthly or quarterly with their employees.

Ask each employee how often they prefer to sit down to discuss goals and expectations. Even a brief walking meeting or coordinating a casual one-on-one over a coffee break is useful to go over concerns and discuss performance or development goals. However you can work more regular meetings into your busy schedule, use this time to reinforce what everyone is doing well and make a list of new goals to attack before the next — very soon — meeting.

Manager effectiveness

Give your employees some credit — they want to do their jobs well. Employees want your feedback, and they want it now. Among 10 cultural attributes analyzed in our 2016 Employee Engagement Trends report, a study of 8,700 organizations, manager effectiveness saw the biggest decline in 2015. The number of supervisors who give regular constructive feedback on job performance has decreased immensely, bringing the entire category down. This proves managers are getting worse at regularly giving constructive feedback.

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Don’t go with the easy route and only speak up with positive comments, constructive feedback is important for growth as well. But don’t leave employees hanging on a negative comment. Have actionable suggestions for how to improve performance so they can move forward and develop.

Feedback should always leave off with an action plan, and it should be mutual. Look for the source of the issue and work together to fix it. Employees should never feel attacked. Rather, they need to understand you care about their personal growth and success within the company.

Most of your employees are listening — I swear — but many don’t know how to effectively take feedback into their current roles. Let them know it’s OK to take notes during your meeting, or email a summary of the key points you discussed so goals aren’t forgotten.

Also, train staff on how to deliver constructive feedback, whether to employees, co-workers, or management, it’s essential that everyone is on the same page with how to offer feedback that will contribute to the greater goal: improvement. Negative feedback that just wears down the whole team’s morale will only devastate performance.

Having an open door policy is always beneficial, but only if employees recognize it’s there. Introduce 360 surveys so your team can let you know how you’re doing, too. After all, management needs just as much encouragement to grow and develop as leaders as employees need to perform at their best.

Constant improvement

The needs of employees are constantly changing, both as they develop in their roles and as influenced by cultural trends. When employers fail to recognize these needs, engagement drops and with that, productivity.

If there is a lack of communication and effective feedback between leadership and employees, the whole organization suffers. Regular surveys ensure that performance management strategies don’t lose effectiveness as the employees/team/organization develops and grows over time.

Employee surveys are increasingly easy to use. Discovering employees’ needs, values, and opinions will grow their confidence in the organization and push productivity forward. It’s important that goals align, and the only way to ensure they do is to ask employees for feedback and structure your performance management strategy around working toward those goals together.

Don’t waste another minute reviewing stale, cookie-cutter employee performance management tips. Sit down with your team today to design an employee performance management strategy that will improve engagement and enrich the culture of your organization.

What do you think works well in your employee performance management strategy?

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