EngagementPerformance management should be a series of feedback-focused conversations

Performance management should be a series of feedback-focused conversations

Performance management is a supporting pillar of any people management strategy. It must be in position if the rest of your internal policies are to stack up. However the term ‘performance management’ is too arbitrary as a concept, what needs to change?

In contrast, the idea of creating a culture of conversation around performance is far more likely to lead to the development of positive, progressive objectives for all employees.

In some of my previous LinkedIn blogs, I’ve talked about the pros of continuous feedback models as opposed to the cons of annual appraisals. According to research, 65% of organisations still rely on these yearly reviews as their method of performance management. This means that the majority of organisations are still waiting twelve months to offer their employees much needed performance feedback. However, some industry leaders are bucking this trend and re-thinking their approach.

I gave Adobe and Microsoft as examples of major technology multi-nationals who had thrown out their outdated annual review models in favour of more regular feedback. Adobe now use a system developed specifically for their organisation called ‘check-in’. which places business and employee objectives at its core. It contains functionality which ensure that employees meet regularly with their managers to discuss and update their priorities.

To me, a flexible, consistent approach to feedback must be built into every workplace. It should be delivered by line managers as these are the people in an organisation who understand what their people do on a day to day basis and how this measures up to organisational objectives.

IIP’s Story

At IIP we’ve just introduced a new performance analysis platform called Clear Review. We began our journey with this software after a process of crystallising the core elements that we wanted to embed within our internal performance strategy. These core elements were:

  • Wellbeing: For us it is important that our internal feedback process encourages holistic discussions that encompass not just objectives and performance, but wellbeing and development as we believe they are all intrinsically linked in everything from employee engagement to job satisfaction
  • Frequency: We want employees to have regular contact with their line managers so that they could get useful feedback in the moment. We decided on six- week check-ins that would promote regular discussion of objectives and keep track of progress.
  • Measurability: These six -week check-in cycles facilitate discussion aimed at driving incremental performance improvements that all contribute to the achievement of the broader business objectives.
  • Communication: The functionality of the Clear Review platform makes it easy for employees to offer feedback and initiate improvement conversations with peers and colleagues which promotes a culture of positive conversation.

So, to summarise our overarching approach to reviewing performance, we distilled our principles and found a way of bringing together our need for frequent catch-ups, a distinct focus on wellbeing, and a way for employees to link their objectives to our KPIs as an organisation.

Since introducing Clear Review a few months ago, we’ve found that the functionality built into the platform for us in the following ways:

  1. Professional objectives. Clear Review encourages people to input their professional objectives. This could be anything from setting a press coverage goal for a PR campaign, to improving a client service process. Employees know what they’re working toward, why this is important to the organisation and when they should be looking to complete the objective.
  2. Personal objectives. In addition to providing scope for professional targets, Clear Review also asks employees to input personal priorities. This could be anything from furthering people management skills to undertaking a distance learning course. It’s about how that person wants to develop themselves at work beyond their day-to-day.
  3. Internal feedback between teams. The functionality of the Clear Review platform extends to allow and encourage employees to give their colleagues feedback, both positive and constructive. We’ve adapted this for our team by inputting our reward and recognition scheme into the feedback software. Employees can thank each other for support by awarding £25 ‘Spot Awards’ or simply by saying thanks for a job well done. This has allowed a truly appreciative and supportive culture to evolve.
  4. Reflection. When an objective has been met, our people can then mark that as completed, something both satisfying for that person and beneficial for the business. The next step is to think of a new objective and thus the virtuous cycle continues.

Establishing a virtuous circle of feedback creates the culture necessary to grow a business with a sustainable people strategy at its core. The value of a feedback-driven culture is the bedrock of both talent retention and talent attraction strategies. Employees who know where they stand are more satisfied with their day-to-day jobs and more engaged with the driving organisational purpose.  

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