What You Need to Make Your Performance Management Program Work

For a performance management system to be truly effective, everyone needs to be invested in its success. From the newest employee to the highest ranking executive, everyone involved should be aware of the system, how it operates, and why it adds true value to your organization.

Though the HR department will be primarily responsible for designing and implementing the performance management system and rolling it out across the organization, managers need to play their part to ensure its success.

Below, we’ll cover exactly what great managers to do to perfect and enhance their company’s performance management processes, ensuring an organization is filled to the brim with successful, ambitious, and productive employees.

They realize that people management is their department

It might sound obvious to you that managers should be involved with people management. Unfortunately, not all managers believe it’s their responsibility. This is unfortunate, as employ­ees with man­agers who excel at peo­ple devel­op­ment are known to per­form 25% bet­ter than employ­ees with managers who don’t make peo­ple man­age­ment a pri­or­i­ty.

Great managers acknowledge the importance of good people management and take the time to establish authentic dialogue and ongoing communication with their employees. These are the managers who regularly engage in one-on-ones with their employees and provide quality feedback so that employees understand how they are performing and how they can improve. These managers are also generally perceived as “leaders” rather than “bosses” — employees are willing to put in that extra mile for great bosses like these, and the results speak for themselves.

They ask for employee feedback — and they actually listen

Managers need to deliver timely, effective feedback. But they also need to receive it from their employees. The only way a company can thrive and be successful in the long term is by taking into account employee feedback. Such feedback can seriously improve performance management processes and general workplace processes. Furthermore, when employee feedback is put into action, your employees will realize that they are valued members of a team whose opinions and insights matter.

Great managers take the time to ask employees for their feedback on all aspects of work, including the existing performance management system and, rather than simply paying lip service to this feedback, they enact changes.

They give employees goals that are realistically achievable

Managers and employees need to meet in order to establish SMART objectives for a given period. In an ideal world, these objectives should be agreed and aligned upward to corporate goals. In reality, it is altogether too common for employees to be assigned unrealistic goals that demotivate rather than inspire great performance. Great managers know how to create objectives with their employees that are stretching and ever-so-slightly out of their comfort zone, without being daunting, frustrating, or unachievable.

Article Continues Below

They recognize effort as well as accomplishment

According to the “growth mindset” theory, people who are told they are clever or talented are more likely to give up when confronted with a challenge they are struggling with, while people who are praised for their continual efforts actually persevere and get results. Great managers are aware of this and, in an effort to inspire great performance, take the time to recognize and reward effort as well as accomplishment.

They have regular coaching conversations

Employee engagement is as serious a concern now as it ever was. We’re constantly putting into place practices and processes to boost levels of employee engagement, but the one thing that can make the most difference is also the most simple — regular communication.

Gallup has suggested that man­age­r­i­al input can account for a 70% vari­ance in employee engagement. This is why more and more companies are introducing regular coaching conversations. During these coaching conversations, employees can be given the training they need to progress with their personal development objectives. Great managers also discuss progress in relation to objectives and any pressing concerns, and use the opportunity to deliver reward and recognition.

There are, of course, a million other things that great managers do to aid the performance management process. As Forbes puts it: ​“bad per­for­mance man­age­ment costs a lot and deliv­ers lit­tle,” but great managers help take a company to brand new heights.

Stuart Hearn is a leading performance management specialist who has been working in the HR sector for over 20 years. He is passionate about moving performance management forward and is currently CEO of Clear Review, an innovative performance management software system. He previously worked for Sony Music Publishing and was a co-founder of PlusHR.

Topics