In a time where many organisations are still trying to recover from the effects of the pandemic, there is also an urgency for them to re-evaluate how they manage employee performance. The current workforce environment has changed, the working landscape is ever-evolving and there is a shift in how organisations currently operate and will continue to operate in future.
With employees now either working remotely or have a hybrid working arrangement, companies need to re-think their performance management strategy and how they will drive engagement, performance and motivation within their organisation.
According to an article on Chief Learning Officer written by Stephanie Webb, the vice president of customer and talent enablement at DISCO, there are five approaches organisations can take into consideration when redefining their performance management criteria for a post-Covid environment.
1. Take a Step Back
During the Pandemic a lot of companies had to take a step back and give themselves and their employee’s time to get used to the new normal. They had to re-evaluate how they measure performance, their employee’s work and success amidst the uncertainty of day-to-day business. Performance Goals should be flexible and as situations change, goals and targets should change. Companies now have to move beyond the one size fits all performance measurement approach, to an individual approach that seeks to engage and support each individual employee.
2. Focus on Fuelling the Future
Traditional performance management programs would use a rating system model where it would look at past behaviour, assess what has already happened and then assigns a rating as a benchmark for future performance. Rating system models are still widely used today, however, they are said to be one-way evaluations that have been proven to disengage employees as it focuses on past performance, which employees cannot change. Companies should rather focus their efforts on fuelling input which would have a positive effect on output. M. Tamra Chandler, author of “How Performance Management is Killing Performance,” calls this a fundamental shift in focus from past performance to future capability, thus providing a performance enablement approach.
3. Meet employees where they are
Whether your company is introducing a hybrid model between in-office and remote work or is embracing a fully remote workforce, workloads and working relationships are changing. The pandemic has highlighted the fact that employees are more than capable of meeting expectations, even at times exceeding expectations when they are given the freedom to work and take accountability for what they produce as opposed to how and where they produce it. In order to execute this working arrangement successfully, it requires a shift from controlling and directing employees, to meeting them where they are, in a results-driven environment where their level of output is the most important factor.
4. Set clear expectations
All performance criteria start with a form of goal or target setting so employees have direction and clarity around work priorities. However, just listing goals for the quarter or the year does not necessarily mean these goals will be met, especially in a high-performance working environment. Managers should rather look to implement the 4 C’s of Clear Expectations when setting goals:
- Consult with the right stakeholders on a regular basis to validate needs, requests and challenges.
- Confirm priorities and changes with their direct manager to stay aligned across teams and with top-level initiatives and priorities.
- Commission work to individuals on their teams based on their capabilities, interests and goals.
- Communicate assignments with context and success metrics so employees understand the “why” behind the work.
5. Create a positive experience for employees
In 2016, a study was conducted by Google called Project Aristotle where they investigated what impacted and drove team effectiveness and one of their findings identified Psychological Safety as a top requirement for an effective team. According to the study the “Psychological safety refers to an individual’s perception of the consequences of taking an interpersonal risk. A belief that a team is safe for risk taking in the face of being seen as ignorant, incompetent, negative, or disruptive and that no one on the team will embarrass or punish anyone else for admitting a mistake, asking a question, or offering a new idea.”
During the pandemic, employees appeared reluctant to bring up problems or present different viewpoints amongst their team. The volatile job market and concerns around job security may have contributed to this reluctance, where employees may have felt that having a job and a sense of security would suffice. This feeling prevented employees from bringing their whole, creative and resourceful selves to their jobs, stifling the problem-solving and innovative qualities needed from them.
Companies now need to figure out how they are going to instil psychological safety within the organisation so that creativity, innovation and free-thinking can thrive.
To cite Stephanie Webb’s article on Employee Performance, “Emotional and social intelligence skills help employees identify emotions and will manage their responses to improve their interactions and impact on others. Workstyle assessments and workshops with a focus on recognizing, valuing and adapting to others’ work styles will improve communication and collaboration amongst teams. These proven solutions strengthen an organisations ability to create a psychologically healthy work environment for their employees.”
In Conclusion, for organisations to effectively manage employee performance in the present as well as post-pandemic era, they need to step back and re-assess how they are currently measuring performance, identify what’s not working, and see where it needs to be adapted in order to match the current needs of their employees. In doing so they will not only get increased engagement and loyalty from employees but also improved overall results from their workforce.