Continuous Performance Management
Posted On: 23/04/2020
Embracing a continuous approach to performance management is much more effective than the more traditional annual appraisal which tries to achieve so much in just one meeting.
To discuss an individual’s performance only once a year is not enough. Annual appraisals can demotivate employees as they remove opportunities to give praise, they don’t address negative behaviours at the time when support should be offered, and they focus heavily on the past.
In this blog we’ll be delving deeper into why the annual, or quarterly, appraisal is no longer effective in today’s fast-paced workplaces, as well as inform you of the key continuous performance management principles to follow to get the most out of your workforce.
Before we start, let’s remind ourselves of what performance management is. Its fundamental purposes are to:
- improve employee performance.
- strengthen employee engagement.
- create and measure goals and objectives.
- align employee activities with the organisation’s goals.
- ensure tasks are being carried out, and processes are being followed effectively.
- provide feedback and recognition.
- identify training and coaching needs.
- compare an individual’s performance and behaviour with desired performance and behaviour.
- discuss personal development and career progression.
- create a positive workplace culture.
Why organisations should say goodbye to the annual appraisal
According to research carried out last year by Gartner, a global research company:
- 95% of managers are not satisfied with the annual appraisal process and would prefer not to do them. These managers describe them as a ‘box-ticking’ exercise and see little meaning behind them.
- 75% of employees say that annual appraisals are unfair as they do not accurately reflect their performance over such an extensive period of time.
- 66% of employees consider this type of appraisal to be disruptive and interferes with their productivity.
- Studies also conclude that they have no positive impact on employee performance or employee engagement. Research indicates that 30% of annual appraisals result in employee performance decreasing.
With annual appraisals clearly not adding value, and not being a good use of time, it’s time to shift to a more meaningful way of managing performance in the workplace.
Continuous Performance Management
Continuous performance management is the frequent meaningful discussion between employee and manager.
- Goal-setting. During regular performance management meetings, the manager and employee should agree on short-term objectives to assist the employee move towards the organisation’s longer-term goals. When an objective is achieved, it is then reviewed and a new objective set. This cycle of setting objectives relating to performance and/or personal performance improves motivation and builds momentum while remaining relevant. Long-term objectives should also be set when relevant alongside the short-term ones.
Research has proved that organisations who review their employees’ goals every month are more likely to perform well financially.
- Future focussed actions. Unlike the traditional annual appraisal which focuses on past behaviour and performance, continuous performance management is action orientated and looks forward.
- Structure determined by the individual. A key benefit to meeting frequently is that the manager does not lose sight of the needs of the employee. Here are some points you can consider incorporating into your meetings, but always be mindful that these can shift and change depending on the individual:
- Recognise strengths and achievements to motivate and boost morale.
- Has previous feedback been acted on to encourage positive progress?
- Check the progress of objectives to monitor productivity.
- Agree on future priorities to remain relevant to personal and company goals.
- Identify opportunities for personal development and career progression.
- Review values and behaviours and identify if an improvement plan needs to be put in place before any negativity spirals and impacts others.
- Have a two-way discussion about concerns or issues.
- Establish if any extra support is needed.
- Create accountable actions.
- Effective feedback. Employees are more receptive to feedback when it is given frequently. Receiving positive feedback in ‘real-time’ is a great incentive to continue to work hard – receiving positive feedback months after the event does nothing to incentivise, in fact, it can have a negative impact on performance.
How to implement continuous performance management
If your organisation is yet to implement this style of performance management, here are some great tips for you to follow:
- Build a team of managers to bring continuous performance management to life. Ask managers who already hold regular one to ones with their teams to become advocates for this new performance framework and encourage them to share the benefits of regular meetings with other managers. Bringing a team of managers together to drive forward this improved model will ensure it fits in with your workforce’s needs and the organisation’s goals.
- Get your senior leadership team on board. As with all incentives, success often depends on the senior leadership team and how they lead by example. Inform them of the benefits of continuous performance management to gain their buy in.
- Share the benefits. Many of us are conditioned to have a ’what’s in it for me’ approach to change. This is what your workforce will need to hear:
- Individuals will perform better, be more productive, be highly motivated and happier as they receive regular positive feedback and are steered back on track in a supportive, and speedy, manner if their behaviour falters.
- Employees are empowered to take charge of their own career and personal development by being asked regularly to review their own needs.
- Progress is identified in real-time and relevant timely feedback is provided.
- New challenges or objectives are set regularly allowing employees to feel that they really are contributing to the success of the business.
- It creates a supportive culture where individuals feel invested in and cared for.
- Issues and concerns can be addressed quickly.
- It develops a trusting relationship between manager and employee.
- The ‘dread’ of the structured annual appraisal is removed.
- Frequent meetings will be shorter than an annual appraisal so there is less impact on an employee’s workload.
- Train your managers. To make sure that every one-to-one meeting is productive and encourages employees to fulfil their potential, managers must be taught the necessary skills: to give and receive feedback, to set realistic and valuable objectives, to identify issues, to recognise if training or coaching is needed, and to listen effectively.
- Communicate the change. Create a communication strategy well ahead of launch to instil the benefits and to prepare your workforce for the change. Communication must be a two-way process and your employees must be provided with an avenue to raise their concerns. It’s good practice to communicate frequently and include answers to the most asked questions.
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If you require support with your performance management strategy, please get in touch with our team of HR professionals on 0161 941 2426.
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