As with so many parts of leadership, performance management looks a lot different today than in years past. What was once considered quite a transactional process has developed into something far more concerned with overall professional growth. Check-ins between managers and employees are expected to be frequent and thorough – those annual performance review sessions aren’t going to cut it anymore.
While this task can feel as challenging as it is rewarding at times, new managers can stay afloat by providing regular feedback and introducing the right learning and development tools to keep their team feeling motivated and capable of doing their best work.
Develop a 1:1 meeting cadence
Rather than sticking to an event-based performance management style, consider establishing a more consistent cadence with your team by scheduling regular 1:1 meetings with each employee. The frequency of these meetings should depend on the size of your organisation; smaller teams may opt for weekly check-ins, while larger teams might need to spread appointments out farther – though meeting at least once a month is best practice.
Look at these meetings as an opportunity to regularly encourage high engagement and optimal job performance. While focusing on matters of timely importance on the day of the meeting is fine, try to dedicate at least 25-30% of this time to big-picture employee development, such as through setting goals or reflecting on progress made so far. It’s up to you to make these meetings as beneficial to employees as possible – as a manager, no one better understands the unique needs of your team. What can you do to satisfy these needs and ensure these 1:1’s are a valuable use of their time?
Reimagine the way your team sets goals
A common procedure for many performance review sessions includes setting annual goals to measure employee improvement. While this sounds great in theory, goals with such lengthy timelines are harder to accomplish in practice – think about all of those New Year’s resolutions you once felt so determined about…
Instead, consider setting monthly or quarterly goals for your team members, exploring objectives both DIRECT – including benchmarks related specifically to an employee’s role – and INDIRECT – any professional development endeavour that aids in developing skills optimal for career advancement.
DIRECT: Increase customer acquisition by 15% across the next quarter
INDIRECT: Attend virtual networking session to connect with local professionals
Don’t let your agenda get in the way of your team’s growth. Encourage your employees to design their own goals – you can offer your support wherever they might need it, but know that allowing space for them to exert an advanced sense of ownership over their goals will provide further motivation to see them through.
Be present and follow up
An essential component of continuous performance management is following up with your employees as they work to develop professionally and meet their goals. It’s rare that successfully executing a goal means avoiding any bumps in the road that necessitate some rerouting; staying on top of your team’s progress simplifies the process of making these adjustments when you must.
Your team should never have to search very far for you during moments of uncertainty. With projects and initiatives so prone to sudden changes, of course, these moments will come up, and your employees may need help reconfiguring things once they do.
A good tactic for facilitating follow-up conversations is inviting team members to take part in training and development opportunities sponsored by your HR team. Sometimes a little self-introspection and team building can be just what an employee needs to get back on the right track and helping them get there by offering the right development opportunities can save you a lot of time and other resources that might otherwise have been wasted while things were in limbo.
The most important thing to remember about following up is that it demands consistency. Introduce it to your regular management to-do list – your team is sure to reward your discipline with increased productivity and efficiency.
Learning and development’s role in performance management
As a leader, it’s up to you to encourage employees to reach their full potential, now often aided by learning and development tools as a part of performance management programs. Specifically, smart coaching solutions can help take your team’s performance to new heights.
Job coaching has come a long way with the use of new technology, from in-person seminars to now offering modern connectivity and access to employees of all levels. New technology has also provided an opportunity for leadership to view learning moments in real time. Micro-coaching is the use of weekly, daily, hourly, or continual coaching in micro-doses. Employees can receive small snippets of feedback to optimize their day.
There is also an opportunity to observe behavioural data, whether it be through personality tests or direct coaching sessions, to better understand how individuals can learn and collaborate with their teams.
Performance management can be one of the most rewarding parts of leading a team. Think of performance management tools and coaching strategies as the key to helping your team tap their fullest potential, both as parts of your company’s whole and as individuals seeking meaningful professional development. Playing such an important role in supporting people as they work to challenge themselves and achieve professional growth is inspiring enough to make going that extra mile worth it every time – and trust me, the resulting quality of work and culture will thank you.