Performance management paves the way for organizations and their employees to succeed and stay ahead of the competition. The process involves recording, measuring, and managing progress to identify areas of strength and weakness among employees. There are plenty of performance management frameworks, from the traditional ‘annual review,’ which is not in vogue anymore, to newer ones like OKRs (Objectives and Key Results). Organizations aiming to overhaul their performance management process, or improve the current one, can pick and choose some features from different methodologies and create one that works best for them and their employees.
Types of Performance Management software, tools & Techniques
Performance management is not just about the output of the employees – it is about helping them grow. Organizations that look at performance management to extract more value from employees without thinking of giving them anything in return – will not succeed in their endeavors.
For those who are interested in helping their employees succeed, there are plenty of methodologies they can try. Emerging performance management trends can guide the quest for the perfect performance management framework. This article aims to provide a holistic overview of performance management frameworks that are in vogue. While plenty of goal-setting-specific performance management tools are available in the market, choosing one that suits the needs of the teams and seamlessly integrates with the teams’ routine workflow can improve compliance. Instead of adopting the whole system outright, organizations can look at supplementing their existing or adopted method with relevant aspects of other frameworks.
1. One-on-one check-ins between managers and employees capture weekly or bi-weekly information about goals, work progress, plan of action, and roadblocks. The idea is to have regular conversations about performance instead of reviewing it yearly. Unlike annual reviews, ongoing check-in meetings provide continuous feedback to the employee and give them a broader idea of how to go about their work while allowing managers to keep track of employee accomplishments done over the year (negating recency bias), compare the employee’s self-evaluation with the observed output and growth, and take decisions on the next steps of KPI management.
2. The 5As is a tool that promotes jointly set goals that are assessable, aspirational, aligned, accountable, and agile – the 5 As. 5As method collaboratively approaches performance management. This method accounts for the complex needs of today’s goal-setting process and rapidly evolves through collaboration. Like other methods, this one also offers the advantages of 360 degrees performance reviews with a balanced scorecard.
Assessable refers to the measurable goal, so everyone involved knows what is expected.
Aspirational goals stretch people trying to achieve them and encourage people to move out of their comfort zone, little by little. The incremental growth adds up, leading to high-performance individuals, teams, and organizations.
Aligned goals help everyone in an organization concentrate their efforts toward one common goal. This does not mean that employees sacrifice their personal preferences – the process of collaborative goal setting ensures that employees can derive value from their organization’s vision and mission and align their growth accordingly.
Accountability gives employees a clear understanding of their goals and gives them a free hand to achieve them. As team goals are shared between team members, the act of collaboration develops automatically, and individuals complement the strengths and weaknesses of other team members. With constant check-ins, managers ensure employees are on track and help out if things get choppy.
Agile goals are short-term, typically lasting for a quarter of a year. They are also reviewed regularly, and the next set is decided once completed.
3. Real-time feedback focuses on continuous development and is essential for any process involving 360 degrees performance reviews. In this method, managers are asked to give feedback on any moment of employee interaction and help their subordinates understand the best course of action. The flexibility and the constant engagement aspects of real-time feedback lead to self-aware teams that are productive, as they frequently monitor their outputs and behaviors and change them as needed. A Gallup survey shows that organizations with highly engaged workforces have 21% higher profitability, and 17% higher productivity, than their counterparts with disengaged workforces. The reasons are clear – employees involved will be motivated to complete their tasks and try to improve upon them. The same survey also shows that engaged employees are happier and report lower absenteeism. Their mean time spent at those organizations is also very high, and their KPI management gets simplified.
4. Personal development plans (PDPs) are tailored action plans based on an individual employee’s unique strengths and weaknesses. These plans set goals that encourage employees to perform better and can contain actions that will support employee development. While PDPs are used to identify opportunities to train and develop individuals, they also give organizations a chance to ensure employee loyalty by genuinely investing in their growth. Managers can use performance management tools to create an action plan to meet those needs associated with L&D or HR, identify courses, allow employees to learn on the job from colleagues, and so on. By encouraging individual employees to chart how they want to grow, organizations can help them act and drive overall performance within and maintain a balanced scorecard.
5. Reward and recognition schemes allow organizations to show the value their employees add to the system. These programs need not celebrate high performers alone – any act of helpfulness, an initiative that helped others, or something else – even a single ‘thank you/ appreciated’ mail can strengthen the team morale like no other. Care should be taken that these systems are continuous ones and not half-yearly/yearly affairs because recency bias and other factors can cloud the judgment of people deciding on awards. This might lead to employees feeling that their performance is not good enough – and ultimately disengaging from the organization’s overall mission.
6. A well-being scheme ensures employees are in excellent condition to focus on their work. Allowing them to focus more on their personal life lets them be more attuned to their work and keeps them engaged. By ensuring needs like insurance, conveyance, and telecommuting needs are taken care of, organizations can get a lot more than the focused effort of their employees.
7. An excellent onboarding process indicates seriousness, even if the process is full of fun and whistles. Organizations use data analytics and tools to ensure a smooth onboarding process for their new hires. If your team is working remotely, new entrants to the workforce will need to start their induction on a video call. New techniques will need to be set up to ensure they do not face any hiccups. These processes can be re-examined and made smoother, like providing team interactions/introductions over emails in the days before joining, fun interactions with the team, and more – so that new employees feel safe and secure enough to start making a positive impact as soon as possible.
8. Management by Objective (MBO) is a framework for defining objectives and then setting the systems to achieve them. The process favors linear work and establishes a culture where everyone works towards common goals. As each objective is achieved, employees responsible for the achievement will be aware of it – which boosts morale and motivation across the team. MBOs require managers to set expectations of individual employees (or by leaders, expectations are assigned to teams) and measure performance against them. Provisions can be made for managers to coach employees if specific expertise is required.
9. Employee feedback surveys can reveal many perceptions and help leaders understand unfavorable ones. For employees to be truthful and voice their honest opinions, the organization should have a culture of trust – or the survey should be truly anonymous. A good way of building trust can be to show action on any of the issues presented or highlighted in the employee feedback survey so that employees understand their concerns are being heard. Responsiveness leads to lower attrition and absenteeism, improved productivity and customer service, and higher morale. When employees honestly list their issues, managers or leaders of the organization can try to understand how to remove bottlenecks and work on a solution with employees. Not only does this improve trust, but it also gives confidence to employees.
10. End-to-end talent management
Talent management is essential for organizations to keep evolving – and as a survey points out, developing is also a favored option for the talent in question. Millennials and other younger generations prefer organizations that insist on frequent feedback rather than a singular discussion. End-to-end performance management creates a workforce that knows their organization supports their growth – and strives harder to contribute better.
With access to performance data, organizations can make a difference to employees by helping them in ways they need. Most performance management techniques emphasize constant interaction and focus on overall growth. Advanced analytics, connected devices, and artificial intelligence can streamline repetitive work and allow instant feedback loops across levels leading to frequent performance-related discussions and reviews. In the long run, a winning performance management process can guarantee sustainable and practical improvements in performance.