Let’s start by getting one thing straight – performance management doesn’t start and end with performance appraisals or HR… To avoid the box-ticking performance management process that businesses tend to fall in, you need to understand that performance management is an on-going exercise, led by everyone involved in the business, which involves keeping a continuous pulse on performance, giving real-time feedback, and providing people with the opportunities to set them up for success.
In regular circumstances, performance management is already enough of a challenge in itself, but throw in the increasing prevalence of businesses now adopting a remote/hybrid working model, and it becomes even more of a challenge for SME business owners, HR professionals, and managers wanting to keep their employees happy and high performing. As an HR and management consultancy with years of experience in people strategy development and culture change initiatives of all shapes and sizes, we can offer you some smart tips and tricks for optimising your remote performance management practices and keeping your employees happy despite the physical place of work.
The future of work
We’re seeing the focus of performance management moving from the annual/biannual appraisals aimed at weeding-out bad performers and distributing reward only, to an employee-led coaching and development initiative. In the post-pandemic working environment, it’ll be especially important to utilise performance management processes as an opportunity to:
Encourage a growth and improvement mindset across employees
Create an organisation-wide culture of resilience and innovation
Transform managers into well-being champions and personal development mentors
Move away from performance ratings which quantify performance solely on outputs
Where do you start?
Tip #1: Focus on the present
Use frequent catch-ups to maintain an accurate view of how your people feel and perform. This will give you an opportunity to provide support, give meaningful feedback, and calibrate your game plans.
Tip #2: Adopt a different mindset
Instead of looking at performance management as a chore or that unpleasant time of the year where the inevitable difficult conversation about performance will follow, set yourself up for success by viewing this as an opportunity to strengthen your business culture and values. The way you manage performance, approach career development, and maintain the relationship with your people are one of the biggest tell-tale signs of your company culture and will make or break your people strategy and success of your business.
Tip #3: Set meaningful objectives
Annual objectives can quickly become irrelevant in today’s VUCA environment. Incorporate the business’ strategic priorities into personal performance objectives by considering individual circumstances and setting meaningful timeframes to successfully engage and motivate. Additionally, foster employee capabilities, such as empathy, resilience, adaptability, and collaboration through the right recognition and development opportunities.
Tip #4: Question what you’re evaluating
When it comes to evaluating performance, it’s not just about what outcomes have been delivered. Always consider how they have been achieved as well – has progress been made in line with your business’ values or has it been at the expense of values and principles you aim to establish at your company?
Tip #5: Question how you’re evaluating performance
The use of data – When you are unable to observe performance closely, the risk of biased assessment is much higher. Be conscious of biases and look to various data sources before formulating a judgement (e.g., notes from catch-ups, project debriefs, self-assessments, feedback from colleagues, etc.)
Human emotion – Acknowledge people’s circumstances, whether at home or in the office, will vary. Display genuine interest and compassion for your people to find out how they are feeling before jumping to conclusions. Self-assessments are also a great way to learn how your people perceive their contributions to the business and how you could incentivise and support them better.
Tip #6: Transform the role of managers
Equip managers with the right capabilities to manage performance remotely and lead the performance review process in a way that engages and derives value for their people. This could be as simple as introducing training on how to give feedback, lead difficult conversations, evaluate performance in accordance with your values, as well as how and when to have catch-ups with people throughout the year.
Tip #7: Go feedback crazy
Create a culture where feedback is welcomed, not feared. The importance of 360 feedback here cannot be overstated enough – feedback should flow from managers to employees, from employees to leadership, and between colleagues. This will enable you to create a sense of personal accountability not only into owning the performance review process, but into the future of the company and its people.