How Can Performance Management Realise Actual Value?

Is effective performance management, in the workplace, generally an aspiration but rarely a reality and does experience tell us that many organisations have neither the appetite, requisite competencies and/or emotional intelligence to establish a sustainable and credible framework against which to challenge and evaluate the progress of their employees?

This may be an extreme perspective but these are often the reasons given for an employer’s reluctance to commit to this apparent procedural “no brainer”, because ultimately the tangible benefits are perceived to be too difficult to establish, and then quantify, and therefore the business case has no measurable benefit/s.

How then are employees to be re-assured about their current and future value to a business when even the traditional annual appraisals are quickly receding into the company policy sunset?

Increasingly employers, and employees, are acknowledging that there needs to be something but, whatever it is, the process needs to be dynamic, both in terms of timeliness and flexibility of goals, to truly reflect business priorities that have to be responsive to all of the following: a customers’ changing roadmap, new employee expectations and the economic fluctuations of the industry sector/s being working in.

Generation Z are apparently less motivated by money, than Millenials or Generation X, and instead attach more importance to factors such as the working environment, company culture, diversity, the green agenda and career development. Yet if career development is now, more than ever, a big tick in the box for first and second jobbers then investing in a viable performance management system should be a win win? Employees are happy because there is something meaningful happening at regular intervals, to enable them to measure progress against goals and the employers are happy because they are satisfying an employee’s notion, of best practice. If done right this should also become a key retention tool, giving the business confidence that quality employees will continue to commit to the company’s objectives thereby ensuring that products and ultimately reputation will be sustainable, by actually doing little more than sticking to a key mantra from The HR Kit for Dummies.

But how do you translate this objective into a workable framework? The simple answer is that, in both thought and deed, it needs to be light-weight. By that we mean light on paperwork, light on management overhead and responsive in terms of goal setting and feedback. In management parlance it needs to be agile – we need to see a regular and tangible ROI with frequent retrospectives and continual improvements, of the process, with everything underpinned by regular and transparent communications.

Simple I know, and the planning would obviously require far more detail but now more than ever, in our Covid world, employers need to be far more aware and empathetic to the importance of continual feedback and stimulation to ensure remote workers have goals to strive for and constructive comments to work on. Without this framework in place an employee’s career trajectory will disappear down a dead end and Generation Z will very quickly be looking for alternative employment with businesses who recognise the value of performance management.