Three Ways To Improve Your Performance Management System (and not lose your team in the process)


Okay business leaders, let’s face facts: if it weren’t for the compensation increase, annual performance reviews would be about as popular among team members as asking for volunteers to come in on Saturday to finish up those coveted TPS reports.  

Why do most team members loathe these semi-annual get-togethers so intently? Popular opinion suggests it’s because these conversations typically dwell on the past, rather than look forward to “opportunities”. This begs the question, how do we change all that? Many companies are getting rid of them altogether.  However, that may not be the best move for your organization.  If your current review system isn’t effective, how do business leaders improve performance management to drive strategic goals and develop the team effectively?

We have a few ideas…

Create Continuity

Ever since you were a child, you’ve likely heard that the anticipation of something undesirable is often much worse than the actual event itself. By that same token, some people see that annual review coming up on their schedule and completely stress out about it. They lose sleep, lack focus during working hours, and end up dodging crucial conversations that can impact their performance, which is the exact opposite of the desired result. Why put people through all that?

Establish more regular meetings to provide feedback concerning performance. If you have the time to meet once per week, do it. If it’s only once per month, even that’s better than putting a big red circle on the calendar and inciting unnecessary angst. Not only will this reduce stress and potentially minimize errors, but it should also improve communication and set healthier expectations about impending conversations. It also ensures that people are consistently updated on expectations, process changes, and goals.

Align Goals

Speaking of goals, sometimes it’s difficult for team members to see how meeting their individual objectives contributes to the bigger picture of the organization.

Sure, it’s easy for a sales leader to tell his people how they’ve surpassed their quota by 125%, but it’s not nearly as easy for a customer service leader to show team members how their stats contribute. What about the IT staff, HR department, or the mailroom? Every department has a role in the success of the organization. It’s up to the leader of each one to communicate and exhibit how much their team members truly matter. The best way to do that is to customize measurable targets that quantify contribution based on the role.

Measurable objectives should be simple and clear to understand. When possible, solicit input from team members on what objectives in their daily routine should be measured. That way, they feel connected to the appraisal conversation, rather than trying to fit into a system they had no say in developing.

Collaborate on Development Plans

Development is another aspect of the system where the team member should have some input. After all, nobody should have a clearer vision for where the team member wants to go than the actual employee. Therefore, employers and employees should discuss a development plan in collaboration with each other, not as opposing forces.

During this collaborative process, employers should allow and encourage team members to spread their wings a little and explore activities beyond their normal job requirements. Listen closely to their desires for further education or experience in fulfilling other roles within the company. Then, do whatever you can to nurture their development and fill their professional toolbox.

Should you ditch that annual performance review altogether? That’s up to you. Each organization has a different corporate culture, where unique systems fit accordingly. If you think the yearly appraisal is still working well, then stick with it. If not, try something a little outside the box. Either way, take these few suggestions into consideration and develop the right system that works your business.

If this all feels like a whirlwind or if you’re having trouble figuring out what to do next, we’d love to hear from you.  We can help you eliminate ambiguity and galvanize your team into action, serving your business and its customers with excellence.  Let’s get to work!