The appraisal is dead. Long live the catch-up! Many of us HR Professionals will be familiar with this phrase and will have heard of aspirational organisations making the bold move from annual appraisals to online software to manage effective performance management practices.

However, in our experience, many organisations fail to enable effective performance management practices using performance management software. Why? Because with any software tool, it can only act as an enabler for change.

We commissioned Dr Nuno da Camara to carry out a research review on what actually works in Performance Management. The research review found 8 key evidence-based management practices that have been shown to increase employee performance within a range of organisations. Four of these activities are completely within the control of the manager and four relate more closely to organisational practice and processes. In this blog, we will focus cover the effective performance management practices that managers can adopt, ideally whilst using aligned performance management software to improve employee performance. All eight practices are explained in the full research paper that you can download here: download the research paper here

4 Effective Performance Management Practices:

  1. Goal Setting
  2. Strategic Alignment
  3. Coaching and Development (management style)
  4. Feedback and Recognition

Goal Setting

A common issue with performance management practices is individual goals not being defined clearly enough for people to understand what is expected of them… We would recommend managers use a process like SMART to agree specific and measurable objectives with the individual in question. Ideally, these would connect the individual’s job role with the overall business goals and should then be documented within their performance management software.

You can download our free guide on How to write SMART objectives here.

Strategic Alignment

We believe that staff not understanding the overall business goals from the beginning cause problems with strategic alignment. Nor do they understand how their role contributes to these goals. So, the key here is to make sure that the business planning process starts as early as possible in the year. Managers must convince the Board that if they want staff to know what is expected of them, then they must set and share these performance targets early on. Managers must then explain to their teams how the individual goals set for them actually align with the overall business purpose. They should be clear on the ‘why’ of why I’m doing this. This may sound like common sense but as Stephen Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People said, ‘common sense isn’t always common practice’.

Coaching and Training

Managers may not value people management activities, especially when there are so many workplace distractions. Hordes of managers that may have been the best salesperson or best engineer are not necessarily passionate about people. Therefore, they may be guilty of going through the motions when it comes to performance management. Consequently, we need to help managers to understand and buy into the importance of managing people well. For managers to learn the right behaviours for carrying out these practices they require the right tools and methods. Coaching or training sessions can help to encourage them.

Feedback and recognition

Managers need to be able to deliver specific, quality, positive feedback. This is about them catching people doing something right and recognising it. We are often so busy doing things that we take for granted what people are doing well. We don’t stop to pause and say how helpful that report was that saved me two hours. Therefore, managers need to create an ongoing climate of positive feedback or recognition, so that trust can be built. By providing positive feedback or recognition, it will be easier for managers to tell staff when something needs to be done differently.

This blog is based on The HR Uprising Podcast hosted by CEO of Actus, Lucinda. For more information on this topic you can listen to the podcast by clicking on the button below.

The HR Uprising Podcast: What really works in Performance Management.