The Latest in Performance Management Tools and Strategies

As we’ve explored in our other articles, simply recruiting and hiring top talent isn’t enough to ensure a company’s success. How organizations manage talent over time determines how, or if, that talent is able to make a meaningful contribution to the bottom line. How effectively you onboard, train, develop, and engage employees plays a critical role in employee engagement and productivity. But, the key to creating a work environment where employees can truly produce their best work, is for management to set clear expectations from the outset and establish a regular feedback loop to ensure employees stay on track. The best way to accomplish this is to use performance management strategies and tools as we explain below.

Setting Employee Goals

Each organization has its own mission comprised of short and long term performance objectives which should be communicated clearly on a regular basis to all staff members. These objectives are generally tied to key performance indicators (KPIs) such as growth in revenue, market share, profitability, share price, or some combination thereof. Each employee’s performance must be aligned with these KPIs through a system of annual target goals, which, of course, vary by employee position. Employees should be rewarded on how well they attain these goals.

In addition to establishing annual goals aligned with corporate performance, it’s important to set up goals related to each employee’s professional development. This helps motivate employees to learn new skills which is a win-win for employees and the company. New skills enable employees to advance their careers while providing added value to the company.

Create a Performance Plan

Managers must create a performance plan for each new employee, designed to monitor the employee’s progress toward meeting their goals. Usually, a performance plan is created with the employee’s input and includes individual, team, and/or department goals—which should all be tied to corporate objectives, as described above.

A performance plan is crucial for setting expectations for both employees and their managers.

This plan can be committed to paper, but these days, is usually in electronic form either as a shared document or stored within your organization’s performance management software system. Digital performance management tools can help streamline the employment review process and foster employee development by automating some of the process.

Set Up Regular Employee Check-Ins

A performance plan is of limited use without regular communication and timely feedback, so managers and employees can discuss any issues affecting performance or progression towards goals. Managers should schedule regular mandatory meetings, or ‘check-ins’, throughout the year for this purpose. These meetings should have a clear agenda and should be designed to be as brief as possible to reduce the likelihood that they get cancelled or bumped by more pressing priorities.

The frequency of these meetings can be weekly, bi-weekly or monthly, depending on the business. Regular structured performance communication is a good way to catch problems and provide instruction before it’s too late. These one-on-ones are also an opportunity to praise and reinforce good work which enhances motivation and engagement.

Schedule Mid Year Employee Reviews

A mid-year employee review is an opportunity for management to provide comprehensive performance feedback for necessary course corrections for the balance of the year. Ideally, this would be a 360 review of an employee, incorporating feedback from a variety of co-workers, including the employee’s supervisor, peers, direct reports, and any other regular corporate contacts.

Conduct Annual Performance Reviews

Annual or year-end performance reviews continue to play a prominent role in most U.S. corporate cultures. They’re important to the extent that they’re tied to the company’s annual performance which may dictate employee compensation. But an argument can be made that they’re not as useful as a mid-year review—or even regular employee check ins—since their focus tends to be on past performance. On the other hand, they present a good opportunity to adjust goals and improve employee performance plans for the following year.

Utilize Digital Performance Management Tools

There is a plethora of commercial performance management software tools available to streamline the processes described above. These tools offer a variety of features targeted at different-sized companies. LINK can help you sort through the options.

Companies improve their chances of success when they recruit, hire, effectively train, engage, and retain top talent. Employees are more likely to thrive and add more value to organizations that have effective performance management strategies and tools in place. And two-way communication and feedback between management and employees are the cornerstones of successful performance at any company.

Contact LINK today to find out more about performance management strategies and tools that can help you keep your top talent on track.