Performance management best practices

The best part about uncovering the ‘best practices’ from organizations such as Google, Netflix, Adobe, General Electric and Cadbury’s among others means that it is possible to cherry-pick the performance management processes that already have a proven and successful track record.

Therefore, implementing one of these ‘best practices’ into your company’s performance management playbook is less risky, as you can already assess the likelihood of their effectiveness. So, if you are looking for innovative processes to introduce into your company, to enable your company to attract and retain top talent, then look no further. We have hand-picked the latest and greatest ‘performance management best practices’.

Companies such as Google have embraced the demands of the growing millennial-dominated workforce. Google has been so successful with its’ innovative ‘people processes’ that it has been named the No.1 “Best Company to Work for” by both Fortune magazine and the Great Place to Work Institute a total of 7 times. Google once again received this accolade for 2017. The same goes for its performance management practices, which are every bit as innovative as they are effective. Google, and other ‘great places to work’ have incorporated the central tenets of Josh Bersin’s “Simply Irresistible” organisation.

Bersin by Deloitte

In order to succeed in the increasingly agile and fluid contemporary work environment in which we find ourselves, it is advisable to include the former five concepts into your performance management structures.

Meaningful work

It is important that employees are engaged with their work. They need to be managed sure, but they also must have sufficient autonomy so that they can utilise their own skills and talents in the denouement of their projects.

Hands-on Management

Hands on management, does not mean micro management; but rather refers to the need to use your own competencies as a manager to provide coaching and mentorship to employees when a need exists. Additionally managers should manage in an open an upfront way. This enables managers to get the very best out of their employees; as both parties are aware of precisely what is expected of them.

Positive work environment

This is a straightforward one; leadership and managers should encourage a workplace that is motivating, encouraging and positive. Happy employees work better, are more creative and engaged and inspire those around them.

Growth opportunity

Key to this concept is career advancement through learning. Training and on the job support (from management, as above) as well as the time to complete self-directed learning initiatives demonstrates to the employee that they are valued. Even though they will most likely not stay in the company forever, their upskilling and advancement is still in the forefront of the company’s mind-set.

Trust in leadership

In order for an employee to fully engage with their work, it is important for them to align with the mission and outlook of the organisation. Like with the need for open and transparent management style, this needs to be reflected throughout the entire organizational structure.

But enough about the concepts behind the policies; it’s time to look at the top 10 best practices being implemented to improve the performance management process in the workplace. You will see each of the above concepts represented throughout the following best practices:

1. Goal setting

The importance of goal setting cannot be overestimated within the context of planning, yearly objectives and targets. It is a widely acknowledged that people who have goals do achieve more. A useful template to follow when setting goals is the SMART goal framework. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Relevant and Timely. They provide you with a benchmark that will help lead you to success in a clear, purposeful and stress-free manner.

2. Make a plan

In line with the need to set goals for the coming year, it is equally important to make a plan for the next year in terms of a review cycle. Managers and direct reports need to have a conversation to set objectives for the future, and also set dates for the various parts of the review process. Making a plan will ensure all parties know what is expected of them; and what they should have accomplished at each stage of the process. This plan should not be rigid; it should be fluid and open to change as necessary.

3. Maintain continuity

Performance management is so much more than just the end of year performance review. True performance management is an ongoing process. Peer monitoring, as well as regular feedback and coaching sessions form an integral part of the performance management process. This continuous nature opens the process up for adjustments to performance planning as conditions dictate.

4. Improve productivity

Through this continuous performance management and regular revaluation of goals and objectives, productivity can be improved as time is not wasted on endeavours that produce less than satisfactory results. If something is not working; evaluate the failure, then move on.

5. Multi source feedback

When carrying out performance review process it is important to consider multiple sources. 360 feedback is perhaps the best kind of multi-source feedback as it takes input from peers, as well as from direct reports and managers alike. 360 feedback provides the most complete picture of any employee’s performance and consequently is the most objective.

6. Track progress

This may seem like a moot point however, it is nevertheless an important one. It is all very well to make plans, set targets and objectives for the upcoming quarter (or whatever the period) but they need to be documented. This is important for both parties, not only so the manager can go back at review time to assess if goals have been met, or targets exceeded, but also for direct reports to learn from and review when necessary. A record should be kept for ease of reference and to prevent confusion.

7. Train your managers

Reviewing your employees’ performance is a big job, but not a task that necessarily comes easily to everyone. Therefore, as an employee is promoted to the position of manager it is important that they receive some sort of training so that they are prepared for the task of performance management. This in turn benefits the direct reports who will be receiving the feedback and developing their skillset.

Not all best practices work for every organization. Select what works best for you, try it, and iterate as you go. People and performance management is a continuously evolving space and should never be static.

Still not sure where to start? Why not download and read our 2019 Guide to Modern Performance Management.

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