5 Shifts in Performance Management to Look for in 2018

As we move further into 2018, performance management will continue to evolve. Factors such as digitization, a multi-generational workforce, shifts in the economy, and the ability to use analytics in the workforce are just a few driving forces behind these changes. The organizations that focus on ways to adapt to performance management changes will be among the most capable of sustainable growth and achievement. And, by implementing solutions like OKR goals and feedback into an ongoing performance management framework, companies can navigate these impending shifts in performance management with greater ease.

Let’s take a look at five performance management trends to watch for throughout the year, as well as how you can prepare for them.

  1. Help Employees Grow Within the Organization

    There are two benefits to helping employees develop into new roles. For one, it promotes retention. For another, it gives the organization a valuable internal talent pool.

    To help employees prepare to take on new roles and responsibilities, managers must incorporate discussions about development opportunities into their regular exchanges with employees. You can support an ongoing performance management framework by holding weekly one-on-ones (voted the best management practice of all time) with each of your direct reports. In addition to discussing progress on quarterly objectives, you can also use this time as an opportunity to review employees’ long-term career goals, and make sure you’re providing the proper resources (training and development) to help them get there.

  2. Create a Feedback-Oriented Culture to Empower Employees

    When employees have access to ongoing feedback, they feel empowered, which in turn drives engagement and performance. Yet, it’s not just any feedback they’re seeking.

    According to Gallup research on employee feedback, 81% of Millennial employees (the largest age group in the workforce) say they don’t receive regular feedback. Of those who do, 83% say the feedback they receive isn’t meaningful.

    Further research from PWC shows that 72% of employees under the age of 30 want daily or weekly feedback.

    In order to effectively empower and motivate your employees, the feedback you give must be:

    1. Delivered frequently
    2. Delivered in real-time (i.e., don’t discuss performance from weeks or months ago, when it’s no longer relevant and the employee doesn’t have an opportunity to change it)
    3. Genuine & meaningful

    Employees need feedback to feel that they’re being communicated with. Feedback also supports trust by showing them that managers won’t just try to help employees excel, but that they’ll actually do everything in their power to help them meet objectives, improve performance, and develop to grow successfully with the company.

  3. Use Ongoing Check-Ins to Drive Performance

    Also referred to as check-ins, one-on-one meetings are the most powerful tool available to managers. During these brief yet effective weekly meetings, managers can:

    1. Stay in touch with employees
    2. Check in on goal-progress in real-time
    3. Discuss roadblocks and brainstorm solutions
    4. Give employees an opportunity to discuss recent accomplishments
    5. Discuss needs for training and development, which promotes transparency
    6. Invite employees to offer their feedback, which shows that the organization values employee input

    While one-on-ones must be held weekly (no exceptions), technology allows managers to check in with employees on an even more regular basis and exchange up-to-the-moment insights with their teams for an uninterrupted, consistent feedback loop. Managers and employees can use mobile tools like pulse check-ins for any of the purposes listed above. These tools help managers stay in touch with employees and give both parties an opportunity to discuss work in real-time, which is critical to driving engagement. Managers can even use the features provided by these solutions to access snapshots into employee performance, which supports data-driven management and allows them to provide accurate feedback catered to the employee’s needs.

  4. Use Performance Reviews as Opportunities for Improvement

    Performance reviews were traditionally held annually and focused on many of the employee’s shortcomings throughout the entire year. This rearview mirror approach was not only ineffective because it failed to address performance in real-time, but also because it focused on pain points instead of opportunities for improved performance. Forward-thinking companies are now using performance reviews as opportunities to develop their talent and drive better performance on an individual and company level.

    Performance management becomes ineffective when employees don’t receive feedback in a timely manner. It’s also problematic when they don’t feel that expectations have been clearly set, and when the feedback they receive on their performance isn’t related to their goals.

    For these reasons, managers must assess employee performance using the following tactics:

    1. Set clear expectations.Explain to employees in advanced how their performance is going to be evaluated, and what they’ll be held accountable for. Use a SMART goal setting method like OKR goals to clearly define objectives.
    2. Link feedback to employee objectives.The feedback you provide should be based on how employees are performing towards their individual, team, and shared company goals. For this reason, having a tool in place like OKR software through which goal performance can be easily tracked and measured is essential.
    3. Use performance management to motivate.Keep any constructive feedback based on the behavior (not the individual), and explain what the employee can do differently moving forward. This approach communicates the idea that performance-related discussions are always intended to help employees improve, instead of being used as a form of punishment.
  5. Create a Sense of Ownership for Employees

    Every employee has a basic need to feel that their contributions are recognized. Managers can satisfy these needs by giving strengths-based feedback, which Gallup says is linked to 8.9% greater profitability. In other words, you must coach employees to further develop their strengths, instead of trying to “fix” weaknesses.

    A sense of ownership and recognition can also be supported by giving employees a platform for sharing success with their colleagues. Goal setting software can give all teams visibility into everyone’s work, so your A-players will have their accomplishments on display for everyone to see. This fosters a sense of commitment, and can help to sustain a performance-driven culture. Managers should also use check-in tools and one-on-ones to deliver praise for recent accomplishments, as 80% of Millennials prefer on-the-spot recognition.

    Most importantly, both managers and fellow colleagues should offer praise and recognition, as 69% of employees say they’d work harder if their accomplishments were recognized. 360 reviews are ideal for providing employees with feedback from multiple sources, which creates a more holistic view of performance and can satisfy employees’ need for recognition.

While effective talent management will continue to be one of the most challenging (yet most important) aspects of organizational success in 2018, it’s clear that adopting a strong ongoing performance management system will be your best tool for achieving results. A performance management system in which employees receive timely, actionable feedback on the progress of clear, measurable objectives linked to company priorities is the best approach to use, as it supports the interests of both the individual employee and the organization as a whole.

What else? What are some other performance management changes you foresee taking shape this year?

Do you manage a company or teams (either as a CEO, a senior executive, a middle manager or even a front-line manager)? Do you set and track objectives? Does aligning employee performance to business goals matter, and are you responsible for driving results? If so, please check out a live demo of Atiim OKR & Goals Management Software and we’d love to hear what you think about it. Thank you!

Image Credit: Hermes Rivera on Unsplash

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