How to make performance management more agile

An increasing number of organisations are looking to make their performance management process more agile

An increasing number of organisations are looking to make their performance management process more agile, however, Michael Lloyd says there are three important steps that should be adopted in order to make this change successful.

Companies are recognising the need for continuous feedback, and there is a desire to remove scores from performance reviews and for some organisations, the need to eliminate the traditional yearly performance review.

Employees (especially the Millennial generation) crave feedback and do not thrive in an environment when they only hear once a year on how they are performing. The ability to request and receive ongoing feedback from peers and managers allows employees to make immediate changes to their performance and builds a more collaborative environment. Recent research by Tiny Pulse found that 64 per cent of employees surveyed said they wanted their supervisor to check in with them at least every two weeks, with 42 per cent of millennials wanting feedback every week.

And when a company crafts their organisational culture to make employee conversations direct, frequent, and timely, they empower their employees to make the greatest contribution and have the greatest success, according to a recent SilkRoad whitepaper, Impact of Agile Performance: How to Create Your Culture of Communication.

For companies which want to eliminate the yearly performance review, feedback is an important element – but so are frequent check-in conversations.

“The ability to request and receive ongoing feedback from peers and managers allows employees to make immediate changes to their performance and builds a more collaborative environment”

These conversations deal specifically with the employee’s current expectations and not a generic form created by HR. This creates greater clarity around performance initiatives and identifies areas where improvement is needed in a more agile fashion allowing quick course corrections.

HR has relied on software to automate these processes for years and vendors have done a great job of providing tools to make that easier – but it has been at the expense of individuals. More companies are realising that if they want to engage their employees they need to find value in the systems we are asking them to use rather than simply checking a box for HR’s yearly process.

As such, HR needs to empower employees to take charge of their own careers by giving them new tools to handle their own performance management process directly with and through the people they work with every day.

However, this change doesn’t come easy for some organisations, so they can look to add features like feedback or recognition systems to their regular performance and goals process to begin the conversion to a more feedback based environment. Ask employees what they would like to have in terms of a process that would help them feel more engaged.

“More companies are realising that if they want to engage their employees they need to find value in the systems we are asking them to use rather than simply checking a box for HR’s yearly process”

HR is a critical player in this process, and stakeholder buy-in from an executive or managerial level is a key challenge. Building a business case for this type of transition will naturally depend on ROI, so being able to demonstrate ongoing performance levels and increases in retention through employee engagement are central.

For managers implementing an agile approach to performance management, it is important to provide simple but powerful tools and processes to engage their employees with ongoing performance feedback, clear visibility into goals to reduce frustration with the process and focus on developing their people to their fullest potential.

For employees, the process provides an opportunity to interact with peers to solicit feedback on job or project performance, easily track progress on goals and quickly complete. For HR, it is no longer focused on creating complex processes that require hours of training, documentation and calls from confused managers.

For more information, see the SilkRoad whitepaper, Impact of Agile Performance: How to Create Your Culture of Communication. Image source: iStock