Performance Management in the New World of Work

Meg Bruyns

Meg Bruyns

Passionate People Developer, Founder

Fact: The way we work has changed. And it should come as no surprise that the traditional performance review process is no longer appropriate for the modern organisation. The formerly annual or at best bi-annual event has – so extensively that one could almost say officially – been recognised as ineffective in driving performance improvements. Instead, savvy organisations are adopting a series of actions which, when practiced regularly, create a more effective system of ongoing performance management.

This quick article outlines how ongoing performance management:

  1. Delivers value to organisations as it meets their changing needs
  2. Meets the needs and expectations of the modern employee
  3. Can be kick-started in your organisation by considering a few best practices

The Win – For Organisations

In the “new world of work”, organisational changes are demanding adopting more agile performance management and employee development processes.

  • Continuous learning is expected by both employees and organisations alike, and new tools and learning solutions make this easier to realise
  • Employees want to give and receive regular feedback (consider how their expectations are informed by the accessibility and fast turnaround responses on social media)
  • Team-centric working promotes the need for creating better relationships within and among teams, and ensuring that both team members and team leaders are encouraged and empowered to build those environments
  • The expectation for better and easier decision-making (regarding promotions, raises, role changes, etc.) is met through the improved data that is built up through ongoing performance management

Organisations that are making changing in their approaches to performance are seeing valuable differences. By shifting their focus from evaluation to agile goal setting, regular feedback, coaching, and intentional development, these organisations are more likely to experience their performance management process as a driver of business value, rather than as a burdensome waste of resources.

The Win – For Employees

Beyond being functional for employers, ongoing performance management meet the demands of modern employees. Research shows that employees want:

Against that backdrop, consider how the shortcomings of the traditional annual/semi-annual review process make it ineffective for a modern workforce:

  • Often only one-sided feedback (manager to employee) is given. The opportunity for the team member to share how their manager might lead them better is missed.
  • Formality and pressure prevents open, honest exchange. Timing often coincides with salary reviews, which further impedes honesty.
  • Too much time passes between touchpoints, meaning discussions are not based on relevant data – it’s difficult to remember tasks and activities over many months
  • Since feedback often isn’t relevant to current work, change cannot be applied (because the event is far in the past). This impedes meaningful attempts at development and is demotivating to employees.

To stay relevant and meet these expectations of a modern workforce operating in a modern organisational climate, the need to align goals, provide feedback, and coach for performance is real-timecontinuous, and multidirectional.

Best Practices for a Better Process

Ready to transform or improve an outdated approach? The following best practices will help your organisation realise a purpose-driven performance management process:

  1. Give regular, frequent feedback: It’s unfair to expect either employees or managers to remember activities what happened far in the past, let alone do anything constructive with that information.
  2. Keep it short, simple and to the point: Performance management should not be an intrusive, time-destroying activity. All elements should be easily adoptable so that they become a natural, organic part of company culture.
  3. Focus on the future, not the past: Get your employees engaged in performance management by showing them a system designed to help them learn, grow and succeed (rather than as a way to bring up past shortcomings). 
  4. Provide context: Show employees the impact of their work by helping them see how it contributes to the overall success of the organisation. This context provides clarity of purpose that can in turn lead to an added sense of meaningfulness at work.
  5. Create clear expectations: Ensure that there is clarity and transparency in how performance is measured and that individuals know what is expected of them. 
  6. Make it meaningful: Don’t waste your, or your employees’ time. Performance management shouldn’t just be a box to tick off. Consider your purpose behind the process, focus on elements that bring real value, and invest in doing them well.

Curious to know more?

The above content was extracted as an easy intro to a more comprehensive guide on understanding and implementing ongoing performance management. To fill in a few more gaps and get some actionable tips on how to put ongoing performance management into practice at your organisation, grab the free download Performance Management: a Guide for Today

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