Performance management plays a critical role in any successful business. It provides an opportunity for impactful dialogue to advance employee careers and strengthen employee manager relationships. The performance appraisal plays a critical role in standardizing reward and promotion decisions, while encouraging employees to learn and grow.
Unfortunately, today's approach is widely unpopular. Strategic business leaders are realizing that there are a few key problems with the traditional approach to performance reviews. They are:
- Too Infrequent: An annual review doesn’t provide enough feedback to effectively develop an employee, let alone ensure he/she is on a path to meeting goals.
- Not Conversational Enough: The traditional appraisal system often becomes an annual lecture for employees. And in many cases, weaknesses and shortcomings become the dominant focus. Without a conversational approach, employees won’t feel engaged or motivated to improve.
- Backwards-Facing: When you have annual employee reviews, the focus inevitably falls on the year past. Successful performance management must balance past performance with future development.
These are just a few of the problems that are pushing businesses toward a more proactive, comprehensive performance management system. And as a result, talent development leaders must be prepared to facilitate effective training for performance management.
Without ongoing performance management training in place, managers may gradually fall back into traditional tactics.
Performance management is a style of management in which a business builds a work environment that enables employees to do their best possible work. It’s a comprehensive system that extends all the way from initial hiring to exit interviews with the main objective of creating a shared understanding of how employees contribute to overarching business goals.
By aligning the workforce with business goals and focusing on continuous individual development, performance management creates a sustainable company culture that maximizes individual, team, and organizational performance.
This may seem like vague definition, but the point is that performance management is all-encompassing of the employee lifecycle. The practice is not:
- Limited to an assessment process
- Simply a self-evaluation
- Or just a measuring tool
The whole system only works when employee interactions are treated as learning opportunities—continuously and frequently. That’s why training for performance management can be such a challenge. This is a major departure from traditional employee interactions as managers must shift from strict authority figures to coaches focused on long-term growth of employees.
With this high-level concept in mind, talent development professionals can start to formulate a new approach to performance management training.
Performance Management Planning
For every new hire, there needs to be a process of goal setting in the onboarding stage. Employees should have a complete understanding of both their goals relative to the business and expectations for their roles.
These goals should address both personal and company-oriented pursuits and managers should leave the process with as much understanding as the employee. Any goal agreed upon should be attainable within a year, but the specifics will depend on the context.
Having these goals in place gives managers and employees a reference point for ongoing evaluation.
Employee Performance Assessment
We’ve referenced the fact that modern performance management is about more than just annual appraisals. But that doesn’t mean annual evaluations aren’t part of the process.
Rather, smaller-scale evaluations should occur on a more regular basis. Whether it’s daily, weekly, monthly, or anything in between, employees should have a regular source of feedback relative to their goals.
In addition to evaluations from managers, employees should also walk through self-evaluations to ensure alignment.
Recognition for Accomplishments
Engaged employees are more productive and more effective at driving business results. Lack of recognition leads to disengagement and frustration.
Having clear goals and a regular assessment process gives managers an opportunity to recognize outstanding work. But that also means strategic leaders must take part in performance management training that focuses on building effective recognition programs.
Performance management often falls under the responsibility of human resources. And one of the biggest challenges HR faces at every company is retaining employees. Anyone involved in hiring knows that employee retention and promoting from within is far more cost effective than constantly hiring external talent.
Performance management must include an ongoing focus on career development for individual employees. With the help of talent development leaders, managers can provide courses that enhance strengths and provide opportunities for new skill development.
Any successful training for performance management will help business leaders improve their skills in each of these four categories. Beyond coming up with an effective performance management strategy, managers must also have the right tools at their fingertips to execute the program.
Unlike other areas of a business, performance management can’t be automated with new technology. It’s a subjective, person-to-person function of the business that depends on effective relationship building.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t common performance management tools, though. They may not be as technical as, for example, a marketing automation platform. But they provide a foundation for managers to effectively execute a performance management program.
As an L&D professional, consider how to tailor training for performance management toward these tools:
- 360 Feedback: Performance appraisals are often thought of as private conversations between employees and managers. However, the most effective performance management systems will include 360-degree feedback that tells employees how they’re performing from the perspective of those impacted by their work. Whether it’s feedback from teammates or stakeholders in other departments, this tool helps provide employees with a more comprehensive understanding of their performance.
- Performance Management Framework: The most common framework for performance management is the Balanced Scorecard (BSC). This tool is meant to assist strategy execution. It clearly defines strategic priorities and help managers more effectively convey action plans to ensure employees are driven toward the right goals.
- Reward Programs: Whether it’s financial bonuses or a system for public recognition, reward programs are critical for maintaining employee engagement. An employee that knows good performance is recognized will remain motivated.
In addition to these common performance management tools, managers and business leaders could use any number of solutions to support their employees. L&D leaders shouldn’t focus on forcing managers to learn certain toolsets. Rather, it’s best to focus on strategic lessons that enable managers to choose their own tools wisely.
You know what modern performance management really means. You know the keys to a performance management process. And you know the common performance management tools. All that’s left is understanding how you can create a continuous learning program geared toward performance management training.
Here are a few courses you could start with as you facilitate training for performance management:
- Building a Performance Management System: Human resources wants to drive employee performance and behavior in the right direction. But as generations bring new tendencies to the workplace, it can be easier said than done. This course teaches HR leaders how to build effective performance management programs to propel their businesses forward.
- The Future of Performance Management: One of the most important attributes of an effective performance management program is the ability to adapt. Businesses change so quickly now that today’s goals may not look the same tomorrow. This course discusses the keys to future-proofing performance management.
- Managing Employee Performance Problems: Having a great performance management system doesn’t mean managers will never have an employee that fails to meet expectations. Conversations about sub-par performance can be difficult, but they aren’t impossible. Learn how to manage employee performance issues without hurting the effectiveness of an overall system.
These are just a few of the many performance management training courses available in our library. Browse the full catalog of LinkedIn Learning courses to find out how you can best support the performance management system within your organization.
Gary BollesLecturer and the cofounder of eParachute, which provides online and in-person programs to help job hunters and career changers
Todd DewettLeading speaker, writer, and coach in the leadership and life skills space; TEDx speaker, Inc. magazine top leadership speaker
Dr. Chaz AustinA recognized authority in the field of career packaging and self-marketing
Lida CitroënInternational branding specialist who designs identities and teaches personal branding