Annual performance reviews are out—and regular, ongoing performance management is in. This looks different for every business, with leaders turning to various combinations of dynamic strategies like quarterly reviews, incentive management, frequent and consistent feedback, and coaching/training.
Forward-thinking organizations have finally realized that setting goals and expectations once a year, never to revisit them (ok, maybe until next year), simply doesn’t work. The most effective managers are those who practice daily performance management.
So, what does this look like? And how can your leadership team incorporate performance management into their daily routine? Read on for our top tips.
1. Recognize the positive, too!
It’s easy to call employees’ mistakes and reprimand them. But everyday performance management doesn’t mean ONLY addressing the “bad stuff.”
Remember to give kudos to employees when earned—even for those seemingly small things. From a job well done to outstanding examples of teamwork, acknowledging a staff member’s wins will:
- Boost morale and confidence
- Increase productivity
- Reinforce those positive actions and behaviors
You might do this via an official recognition program or by simply telling the employee they did a good job. Either way, make your positive feedback specific by tying it back to their goals and noting how they thought outside the box and went above and beyond.
2. Address issues immediately & appropriately
Of course, performance management will occasionally involve critical feedback and may even call for corrective action. The key is in how and when you handle it.
Address issues right away, whether performance- or behavior-related. Waiting around and hoping the problem resolves itself doesn’t serve the employee, their coworkers, or your company.
Next, determine the most appropriate course of action. Does the matter call for written documentation? Or would a brief chat suffice? While we’re all for documenting essential performance issues and conversations, immediately writing up an employee isn’t always necessary and can send the wrong message. Imagine documenting a new employee for a simple mistake—sounds harsh, right?
Don’t be afraid to hop on a quick call or Zoom meeting before making it official with documentation. Sometimes, all it takes is a face-to-face chat to clear things up.
For example, brief feedback can likely correct a minor work error. However, ongoing errors or a problematic attitude addressed previously could be another story and require more extensive measures, from documentation to a performance improvement plan.
Giving critical feedback is never fun, but you can make it constructive by keeping it professional and not getting personal. In other words, address the problem behavior, not their characteristics.
For example, if Sally has been consistently showing up late for her shifts, bring it to her attention and remind her why arriving on time is important for the company and the rest of her team. Avoid accusing her of laziness or a poor work ethic, as this personal criticism could make her defensive.
Sometimes, there may be more at play, like personal matters the employee is dealing with affecting their work. Taking a thoughtful, constructive, and empathetic approach can help them improve and allow you to provide additional support if needed.
3. Document performance goals & expectations
When you do meet with employees to discuss their goals and your expectations for them, document it! This ensures you’re on the same page and they understand their responsibilities. And if there is a discrepancy, writing things down allows for questions and clarification. You can even send a recap email after performance conversations.
This documentation should outline what you discussed, what you are looking for from the employee, the goals you set together, feedback, and performance issues (if any).
Many managers fail to clearly communicate expectations and guidance to support employees in achieving their goals. A survey by Custom Insight found that 49% of disengaged employees point to issues with their direct supervisors. And 15% of them cite poor accountability, communication, direction, and feedback.
Instead, set your team up for success with documentation and direction to help hold them accountable.
4. Provide goal breakdowns
Speaking of goals, consider how to make them less intimidating. You might give an employee a significant goal that will take six months or a year to achieve. Without specific milestones and guidance, this could be overwhelming!
Instead, support your team by breaking their big goals into smaller items, or micro-goals. You could outline these as monthly or quarterly goals, then give them daily and weekly tasks and responsibilities to work toward the larger goals. Discuss what will work best for the employee and create a performance plan. This will give them a clear path and increase their chances of reaching their big goals.
You can then use your regular check-ins to discuss each employee’s progress, determine where they may need more coaching and resources, and assess if and how to adjust their goals. This is just another reason why regular communication is vital to effective daily performance management!
5. Update goals as needed
On that note, sometimes goals will change over time. A plan you and an employee set at the beginning of the year may no longer suit the business’s overarching strategy. With everyday performance management, spotting these shifts and making necessary adjustments is easier.
Schedule consistent, frequent meetings with team members to check on progress and stay ahead of these changes. It can be demotivating if an employee spends significant time and energy working toward something that never comes to fruition but could’ve been caught earlier.
However, modifying their goals in a timely manner keeps them on track to success, aligns their daily work with the goal, and boosts productivity.
Enhance Your Everyday Performance Management
Think of it this way: You likely take a weekly, if not daily, look at your organization’s financial performance. Doesn’t the performance of your people deserve the same level of attention and management?
The most successful businesses no longer rely strictly on annual performance reviews—especially those with virtual or hybrid teams. They are incorporating performance management into their daily routine. In turn, they’re increasing employee engagement, productivity, and retention. Not to mention, it fosters stronger relationships between employees and their managers.
If you’re looking for new performance management strategies to add to your practices and policies, BlueLion can help! We have first-hand experience building a talented team and a positive culture of transparency and feedback, and we’ve helped numerous businesses do the same. Contact us today at 603-818-4131 or firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about our outsourced HR services.
The information on this website, including its newsletters, is not, nor is it intended to be legal advice. You should contact an attorney or HR specialist for advice on your individual situation.