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Pivoting with Performance Management

By Susan Hanold, PhD, VP Strategic Advisory Services, ADP

Susan Hanold, PhD, VP Strategic Advisory Services, ADP

During this time of uncertainty and change, organizations are being challenged to provide visibility and control to their workforces. Leaders need to give their teams a sense of connection, confidence, and focus. In the HRD article, “one of the top engagement drivers for employees is seeing their work contribute to company goals.”

To navigate these unprecedented challenges, organizations are looking for practices to increase productivity and engagement and ways to adjust the ‘usual’ performance planning process to align with the current environment. These are very different work circumstances than what associates have experienced previously. In our ever-changing world, flexibility and simplicity are of the utmost importance. Managers want a simple way to assess talent and productivity amid ongoing evolvements.

There are three ways organizations can continue to evaluate talent, provide employees the feedback and recognition they need to succeed during times of change.

Simplify Processes

Take a close look at what will help the business at this time. Less may be more or changing focus on parts of the performance management process may make sense.  If the process is complex or has too many steps it becomes unruly and may turn off your employees. This is chance for you to evaluate the most critical role your team member can play during these times and the culture you are building or reinforcing. Is coaching needed the most now? Is it leveraging development plans for roles that are changing? Is reducing the documentation and more about the conversations?

Continue Frequent Touchpoints

In many instances, managers and team members have been connecting more frequently during these times – and it’s working. Moving forward, managers may want to evaluate the right touchpoint frequency. A touchpoint strategy may include no annual evaluation.  A manager can build increased engagement and trust by frequently touching base with their team members and can play a huge role in promoting the desired organization culture and retention strategy. Research shows that trust is critical for increased engagement. You may consider empowering managers with technology that allows them the flexibility to deliver feedback as needed or on their own schedule.  You can determine how to deliver touchpoints through technology as-needed, on-demand, or scheduled, making it easier to give employees ongoing attention that recognizes good behavior and identifies opportunities for development when it matters.

"In our ever-changing world, flexibility and simplicity are of the utmost importance"

Additional support may be needed during this time, and frequent touchpoints can help uncover those needs. Listening is one of the most critical communication tools. Good listeners make you feel important and heard. Giving managers the time to really listen to their teams and have meaningful conversations may be really needed right now. According to Mercer’s 2019 Global Performance Management Study, effective coaching requires empathetic and action-oriented managers.

Training and educating managers on the value frequent touchpoints can bring can go a long way in fostering engagement across the organization.

Balance Goals with Shifting Priorities

During this time, goals take on a whole new meaning.  Goals and priorities have likely shifted, with safety and belonging top of mind. When people have their basic needs met, they can invest extra energy in their work.

As focus shifts to the return to work, we all need to feel that our contribution is valuable - and we need to know where we stand, whether that means getting creative with flexible work arrangements or realigning on performance goals. Maintaining open lines of communication allows managers more opportunities to create a human connection with their team, providing more chances to clarify priorities and review contributions with a direct line of sight into goal alignment. Make it a point to ensure that you review your team members’ goals with them individually.

Many employees may be establishing whole new routines and methods for tracking progress at work and looking for ways to stay on track.  While there may not be commute times or the usual office distractions, employees may be getting creative in how they schedule their time to complete projects and ensure they are still contributing as expected to the team.

For many companies, the future of work is now, as roles are reimagined and redesigned. Attention to skills development is important.  A manager that has a clear understanding of his or her team’s skills will help identify the learning goals and needed training. Aligning goals or easing up expectations may be very appropriate to help remove stressors during times of uncertainty and change.  Provide managers the flexibility to support employees while adapting to unforeseen demands and pivoting from the old normal.

Giving managers the ability to enable continuous dialogue, re-align goals, and deliver coaching outside of the traditional annual cycle to drive engagement and productivity can make an impact.

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