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Using the Data from Your Analysis of the Performance Management System - Part II

Using the Data from Your Analysis of the Performance Management SystemIn our first article we discussed the fear of having performance management conversations and provided a few options to address managers’ concerns.  In our second article, we explored ways to evaluate a current performance management process. In this article, we will review analyzing the data captured from the assessment process and using it to make decisions on how to improve the performance management process/system in place.

Start your analysis by focusing on what you want to accomplish by having a performance management system in place. For example, let’s assume you want your performance management process to accomplish the following:

  • Enable for tracking of employees’ accomplishments against meeting department, division or organizational goals
  • Goal setting for the upcoming year and tracking progress against those goals
  • Improve communications between managers and their staff through regular feedback on performance and conversations on goals
  • To make decisions on promotions and salary increases for the upcoming year

Based on this goal, you will need to determine how your performance management system (processes) must function in order to accomplish what you want to accomplish with the system.

Some best practices to consider when redesigning your performance management system:

  • Ensure ongoing communications between the employee and manager. This may be done through monthly one-on-one meetings along with monthly all team meetings (manager and all his/her employees.)
  • Have employees provide quarterly status reports to the manager – what their goals were for the quarter and what they did to accomplish those goals, where they need support and goals they are working on for the next quarter
  • Guidelines provided to managers for addressing employee issues and having difficult conversations with employees over performance
  • Regular sharing of organizational goals with employees so they understand where the organization is heading and how the department is working to help the organization meet those goals

Your goal is to have a performance management system that provides not solely a one year formal review process but regular feedback on performance through:

  • Informal conversations
  • One-on-one meeting
  • All team meeting
  • Status reporting
  • Acknowledgement of work done on specific projects as soon as the project is completed

When regular feedback is provided to the employee, it makes the annual process an easier one and one that has no surprises for the employee. It also makes for a more comfortable process for the manager – they are more confident in the process because they have spent more time with the employee in discussing performance year round. Part of the process should be to have regular performance conversations and feedback with employees with “check ins” by Human Resources to ensure that this is being done.

When you review the data you captured from your analysis of your current performance management system, consider what is hindering you from meeting your goals for the performance management system. Often I find that the following are issues for companies:

  • A complicated form to be completed. The performance process does not have to be complicated. Keep it simple and map it to goals to be achieved by the individual. You don’t need to have a complicated rating scale, it may be as simple as: did not meet goals, met goals, surpassed goals to be achieved. When the process is simple, managers and employees are more apt to participate in it and more apt to provide commentary rather than just “checking” a box.
  • Lack of training around the process. This includes training around how to have difficult conversations around performance issues, use of the performance management process, and enabling for practice sessions for managers. It also includes ensuring employees understand how the data captured is used and how they can actively participate in the process rather than feeling like they have no control over it.
  • Lack of effective communications between managers and their employees. In today’s busy workplace regular communications is often pushed aside because plates are full with tasks to be completed. But regular communications is absolutely essential for success overall and it is important to reinforce the need for regular communications and to have it encouraged and supported from the top down. If leaders have regular communications on goal achievement with the managers who report to them, then those managers are more likely to have conversations with the employees who report to them.

Ensure that a variety of individuals – leaders, managers, individual contributors – are involved in redesigning the performance management process and are part of a pilot group to test it out. Use this pilot group to make any necessary changes to the new process (iron out the wrinkles) before rolling it out organization-wide.

And – as a regular practice – review your performance process at least once a year as part of an overall process improvement initiative. Additionally, check in regularly with employees throughout the organization to evaluate the effectiveness of the system – Do regular communications still happen after the initial push for it? Do employees perceive the performance process is valuable to them personally? Ask managers how it is going? Are managers having regular conversations with employees? What are managers’ challenges in talking about performance?
Remember – keep the process for performance management simple so that it is usable. It doesn’t have to be complicated to achieve what you want it to achieve.

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