However, it continues to remain as one of the most neglected aspects of management. There is no point of reviews and measuring performance if it fails to achieve the end result of developing employees and keeping them engaged.
Management has been faring quite poorly when it comes to making performance reviews a success. Earlier this year, Gallup’s comprehensive report called State of the American Workplace revealed the following insights when it came to managers and performance management:
Lack of motivation among employees - Only 21% of employees agreed that their performance is managed in a way that motivates them deliver their best at work.
No direct link between performance and growth – Only 18% of employees strongly agreed that employees who perform better grow faster in the organization.
Minimal role of managers in driving performance – 30% of employees strongly agreed that their manager involves them in setting their goals.
Managers do not give effective feedback – 23% of employees strongly agreed that their manager provides meaningful feedback.
Such data surely reveals a lot of inherent problems in carrying out effective performance management. On an average, managers themselves are underperforming when it comes to not just giving clear directions to their employees, but also in keeping them motivated or providing them regular and meaningful feedback.
There is ample evidence to show that good and engaged employees want to continuously develop themselves while on the job. Without a lack of purpose or a sense of attachment to company vision and leaders, employees are likely to lose focus and look out for jobs elsewhere.
Managers need to raise their bars high in order to improve these numbers. The solution to this is for them to spend more time in charting out paths for their employees and helping them enhance their performance. This is where the role of goal management seeps in.
Goal management is an extremely crucial part of performance management. Without clear goals, employees will be left confused and directionless. And just laying down goals is not the answer. Managers also need to be available for their employees as and when the need arises. Be it providing learning tools for employees, coaching them on real issues, recognizing and rewarding employee performance in formal and informal ways or offering genuine feedback on activities. Only when managers define all these strategies clearly can they help contribute in achieving organizational goals.
This need not be very hard. Even if managers can spend 15 minutes from time to time with their employees and focus on specific goals that need to be achieved by each one of them, it can go a long way. The mission and vision of larger organizational goals need to be clearly communicated to the employees. Along with this, employees need the regular dose of how their contribution can make a massive impact on achieving those higher goals. Conversations hence need to be team and company centric, rather than individual centric.
Employees need goals that constantly challenge them to make themselves better. SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound) goals is a concept most organizations understand and follow. However, it might not be sufficient. A study by Mark Murphy, author of Truth at Work: The Science of Delivering Tough Messages, Hiring For Attitude that tracked 4.182 workers from 397 organizations found that only 15% of employees strongly agree that their goals will help them achieve great things. The study also found that the question about SMART goals had no meaningful correlation with employees achieving great things.
For effective goal management to take place, hierarchy also needs to be minimized. According to David Greenberg, Founder and CEO at Updater, unnecessary management layers serve to diminish everyone’s connection to their team goal. Too many layers of approval from management can also demotivate employees and make the lose their focus. To achieve this, David even avoids symbols of hierarchy such as having their own office. HE believes this helps remove barriers and helps the team stay focused together.
Setting specific and challenging goals consistently leads to higher performance. Just telling people to do their best can work till a limit. Goals need to be higher in effort and that will most likely generate the greatest level of performance. Follow ups and coaching to achieve these goals need to be present thoroughly through tight deadlines and constant improvement.
The role of effective goal setting ultimately falls down to leaders and managers. Leaders need to analyze their management style, stay consistent and focused in their approach and work towards achieving larger company goals. These larger organizational goals also need to be further sub-categorized into short-term, realistic and achievable targets. Review needs to happen every once in a while (but not too often) where critical questions such as achievement of goals and making current processes better can be answered.
Long story short – the best managers always set clear expectations. No one likes to work with a manager who is not clear about larger goals or how to achieve them as a team. Ad hoc work arrangement and goal setting, and measuring employee performance on the basis of that could be a recipe for disaster. Employees need to be made aware of their company’s strategic objectives. This will help get clearer results.