Today, performance management is not becoming easier, and it's partly due to modern corporate cultures being much different from what we used to see 20 years ago. These are dynamic ecosystems, where any initiatives orientated on improving, monitoring, and analyzing employee performance should be done with extra care. The modern environment and a shift in working generations towards millennials, has seen companies struggling with retaining, engaging, and encouraging. One of the reasons is that many still use traditional performance appraisal methods, which no longer work.
Conventional performance management is a set of tools and initiatives based on setting standards and scoring, where the activity itself can appear as costly, impersonal, and stressful for both employees and managers. According to HBR, more than one-third of the US companies have moved on from the traditional appraisal processes to softer, yet more effective approaches. For the rest, the idea of abandoning the annual skill review still seems heretical, mainly because companies are unaware of how to adopt different approaches.
Instead of labelled departments and a strictly defined hierarchy, today, more companies move towards team networks and flexibility, after acknowledging that there is something else that motivates and encourages millennials to perform well at a workplace.
Instead of having annual reviews that many employees see as the worst time of the year, it can be useful to look at their performance from a different perspective and change the aura around performance management from negative to positive. Daily working processes happen in a rhythmic manner and so should a manager's participation in an employee's professional life.
There is a direct link between an employee's contribution, commitment, and their job satisfaction. Achieving that balance must be a top priority, as it will make management much easier for both sides. Providing ongoing feedback, skill development, and recognition are the ways to achieve this. Additionally, these will help to effectively track job performance, (without a stressful intervention) and will motivate individuals rather than make them feel obliged. However, none of the approaches will work, if a healthy manager-employee relationship is not in place.
Communication has always been at the core of any strategy, as when sharing and collaborating, people feel genuinely integrated into working processes. A manager plays the key role in this, as they need to ensure communication is going in the right direction. We are not looking to build a friendship, but to encourage more conversations orientated on employees' contribution, their professional development, where accountability and expectations are clarified at all times - in a respectful, rather than demanding manner. As a result, managers take on more of a coaching role, appear less intimidating, and more trustworthy.
Conventional methods of talent management are often impersonal, therefore, in order to benefit from the evaluation process, it's worth analyzing all approaches, opt out from practices that can harm, and retain those which are focused on the wellbeing of corporate culture and employees. For example, a traditional process includes a focus on a skill gap analysis, whereas a modern one suggests looking in depth at strength development. With this, aside from identifying areas for improvement, a manager also looks at the areas where an employee is exceptionally good. By being provided with an opportunity to further develop strengths, whilst working on weaknesses, a person is more likely to work harder and stay focused on goals and their professional growth.
When talent management is based on transparency and mutual trust, there shouldn't be problems with identifying and tracking how well employees are performing and how fast the set targets are hit.