The traditional, once in a year review process has become much more detailed with regular check-ins, feedback, and 360-degree reviews. While it is important to help performance management processes evolve, but before taking such initiatives, the needs and preferences of employees also need to be considered. The key question to ask is how employees view performance and how they would like it to be validated and measured.
This is important because along with products, processes and technology, the workforce is also changing. Organizations need to understand whether their current performance management practices align with the needs and wants of employees or not.
Employees want clarity of their performance
In a research by Trinet and Wakefield in September 2015, 69% of full-time employees reported that the current processes of performance reviews are flawed. 74% of the same employees said that they feel “in the dark” about how their managers and peers think they are performing at work.
This dissatisfaction needs to be changed by replacing it with regular and a more genuine feedback system. But feedback shouldn’t be treated like just another task. Giving employee feedback will only make sense if managers show some genuine concern in making the receiver improve in the areas concerned. Without an inherent interest in ensuring that employees actually improves their performance, there is actually no point in giving employee feedback.
Employees need to be told on a regular basis on how they are faring. They also need to be coached in case of any knowledge gaps. All this needs to be done using the right technology and managers need to be available for employees. Regular feedback needs to be specific and substantiated with examples. The goal of a quality feedback should not be to share opinions but to get a better sense of the receiver’s strengths and weaknesses, without undermining or shaming him/her in any way. Mastering communication for this is hence, most critical.
Technology can also play a huge role in regular feedback. Organizations can use tech-savvy ways to incorporate real-time feedback into the everyday life, such that distance does not become the biggest concern for communication.
Employees want higher manager involvement
According to research from Leadership IQ, employees should be spending six hours per week interacting with their leaders. Regular engagement with managers is crucial to understand where employees stand and also help them improve. The same study found that employees who spend six hours per week with managers are 29% more inspired, 30% more engaged, 16% more innovative and 15% more intrinsically motivated than those who spend only one hour per week.
But how successful are organizations in actually making sure employees and managers meet? Lack of time and overburdened with work is a common sight everywhere that prevents this from happening.
This needs to change as employees cannot just meet managers at the time of setting goals and then directly at the time of review. This entire gap has very little formal guidance give and take. This is why most employees are left in the dark about their performance. This leads to confusion and frustration. What employees want is an increased attention from managers, with continuous guidance on what goals to achieve and how to achieve them. Employees want coaches and mentors who can contribute towards their professional growth.
Regular one-on-ones are a great way of facilitating open conversations between managers and employees. Managers should do a thorough research on what the employee has been handling in the last couple of weeks and prepare open-ended questions for the same.
“All this terminology of rankings – forcing rankings along some distribution curve or whatever – we’re done with that. We’re going to evaluate you in your role, not vis a vis someone else who might work in Washington, who might work in Bangalore. It’s irrelevant. It should be about you.”
There is a flip side to this as well as there is evidence that proves that managers are also unhappy with the way performance reviews are conducted. As per a survey by CEB, 95% of managers reported being dissatisfied with the way the company forces them to conduct employee reviews. Even managers need to be given the tools and resources which can help them offer the guidance their subordinates need for improved performance.
Organizations need to have a clear understanding of what their workforce desires when it comes to managing and evaluating performance. The current flaws in the system need to be identified and removed. The new performance management processes should address new work habits, technology preferences, compensation and the nature of the job itself. Professional and career development should be given top priority. Investing in learning opportunities and mentoring for all should be crucial to ensure higher productivity. Employees need to be presented with realistic goals, offered plenty of guidance, get rewarded and recognized for their efforts and encouraged to be innovative. By doing so, organizations can truly impress and retain employees for the longer run.