As we get closer to the end of 2016, we realize HR professionals are starting to plan for the year ahead. This blog post is the first in a three-part series based around our 3 Ways Leaders Are Getting Ready To Win In 2017 blog post, diving into greater detail on how to turn our three strategies into reality.
Ever tried spin cycling? It’s a great cardiovascular workout and I love the health benefits so much that I lead spin classes in my spare time. As an instructor, my role is to help people in my class get the most out of the experience.
I train them on proper cycling setup and technique to prevent injury. I coach them on ways to maximize their energy output without overexerting themselves.
I recently realized it’s similar to transitioning to a new way of managing performance. You might laugh at reading this analogy, but hear me out.
Like many other HR leaders who are setting business priorities for 2017, you may be assessing how to redesign your performance management process so it’s more meaningful and has greater impact on the business.
Dropping the annual review, nixing competencies and focusing on informal check-ins may seem like a good starting point. However, this kind of strategic shift takes careful planning and oversight.
So, how can you make this transition successful?
The first step is to articulate the purpose and the value of this kind of transformation.
Why are you making the shift?
If you want performance management to become an essential part of the day-to-day work experience, your talent strategy and business plan need to be aligned. Get started by asking these questions:
- How will ongoing performance management help your organization attract, retain, develop and engage the right people to move the business forward?
- What challenges will this new approach address?
- How will it support the outcomes your business is looking to achieve?
You’ve answered these questions, you know why you’re making the shift and your talent strategy is set. Your next step is to help employees transition to a new way of work.
In my experience as a business consultant helping Halogen customers make this switch, bringing employees on board is the most challenging step. They will need to embrace new activities and behaviors. Inevitably, some employees will be more ready than others.
But just like learning how to properly ride an indoor cycling bike (it’s not like riding an outdoor bike), your employees need guidance and practice to learn to do it well.
Begin with making sure you’re working on the right areas in the right way. These essentials will get you started:
Adopt the essentials of ongoing performance management
Successful ongoing performance management programs include five essential components to increase engagement through employee satisfaction and contribution:
Develop great managers
It’s no surprise that developing great managers tops this list. They are key players in your performance management strategy. They play a critical role in retaining, developing and engaging your employees.
As a spin instructor, I coach participants through challenges, breaking them down into small goals they can achieve and use to track their progress. This helps them get through the hard parts and experience success along the way. For managers to go from good to great, they must shift from command and control to more coach and mentor. They must also regularly:
- Prepare and conduct meaningful performance conversations
- Set, align and manage goals
- Align development activities with performance outcomes; discuss in regular coaching conversations
- Evaluate performance more consistently, objectively and accurately
That’s a lot of responsibility and most managers need help to develop their leadership and communication skills. As you look to move your organization to ongoing performance management, make manager training a priority.
This resource can help you get started in learning to support your managers in becoming great leaders:
Frontline Managers: Are They Given the Leadership Tools to Succeed? – Learn how to equip your managers with the leadership, communication and interpersonal skills they need to excel at ongoing performance management.
Set goals that drive outcomes
Many of my spin class participants walk in with fitness goals – to lose weight, get stronger, or train for an event. I help them build plans that motivate them to achieve their goals.
For employees, the connection between their work, their value to the organization and their impact on organizational outcomes is a key driver of employee satisfaction and engagement. To make this connection, employees must have an understanding of the organization’s purpose and their role in supporting it.
That’s where goal accountability comes in. Your organization must learn how to set goals that motivate and play to an employee’s strengths. Here’s how:
- Set motivating goals that are linked to business outcomes
- Review and revise goals regularly to ensure they are still aligned
- Discuss progress on goals to hold for accountability
- Provide feedback and recognition for what and how outcomes are achieved
Your leaders and their people may need some support to get started setting and monitoring progress on goals – here’s a resource to help:
Goal-setting template – This template outlines the key information managers and employees should discuss and document when setting goals.
Foster a culture of feedback and recognition
Working out (similar to working) can sometimes feel like a slog. I am constantly watching for opportunities to give feedback to class participants so they stay safe and injury-free. I also let them know they’re doing well so they keep their momentum and spirits high. It makes the work(out) more fun.
Working with great people is one of the main reasons employees stay at a company. True success with ongoing performance management involves creating an environment where all employees are comfortable giving and receiving feedback.
By receiving continuous feedback, employees will better understand what behaviors they should continue and which do not support their development.
This resource is a great starting point to help employees learn how to give and receive valuable feedback:
Employee feedback and coaching templates – This resource can help your employees prepare to give helpful, effective feedback. It also includes a list of tips to guide coaching conversations.
Encourage forward-focused growth and development
Development is all about getting better, challenging yourself and learning new skills. When I have new participants in my class, I help them understand what to expect, what’s expected of them, how to properly ride and what they should feel like as they progress. This development process helps them be successful in learning and achieving their fitness goals.
All employees – and especially younger employees – expect employers to invest in their development so they gain the skills they need to succeed. Your organization must commit to developing employees or risk losing key talent.
When it comes to staff development, direct managers have the largest role to play. They should provide employees with opportunities to apply and grow their skills through stretch assignments, formal training, team collaboration, and regular coaching and feedback.
Managers also need to ensure that employees and the organization will benefit from the development that’s happening with employees.
Employee development templates – This resource can be used to diagnose development needs and create a development plan based on those needs.
Career management plan template – Your employees can use this template to identify their career goal, then create a plan to prepare to achieve it.
Conduct ongoing performance discussions
While I always value feedback from my class participants, I’m often having a one-sided conversation during classes. But I still allow those regular opportunities to check in before, during and after class. This keeps everyone engaged, focused and confident in their ability to succeed.
Managers that hold regular one-on-one meetings build stronger manager-employee relationships. The cadence and structure of these one-on-one meetings will depend on the needs of your business.
They should occur frequently enough to cover feedback, goal review and revision, and discuss development and recognition – all in a timely manner. The frequency, just like your workouts, require a commitment to stick to the scheduled times.
Beyond setting expectations for how frequently managers and employees meet, you need to provide guidance on how to have effective conversations. Help managers and employees prepare by providing suggested agenda items, conversation starters, coaching and feedback templates, and other tools that will move your talent and business strategies forward.
The resources provided above can help your organization begin the transition to ongoing performance management, but if you’re looking for deeper support the right talent management solutions partner can help.
Here’s how Halogen can help your managers become great at ongoing performance management
At Halogen we offer Performance Management Essentials workshops customized to meet the specific objectives of ongoing performance management in your organization and the challenges you’d like it to address.
Referencing elements of your performance management strategy and program, these on-site workshops help managers understand the direct impact performance management has on your business.
If you’d like to learn how Performance Management Essentials can help your organization, contact us to learn more.
I hope the tips I offered above are useful as you assess the most strategic way to connect performance management to the way your people work.
Bringing it back to indoor cycling, I’m a spin class instructor because I am passionate about helping people be healthy and strong. Similarly, HR is a people-focused profession. Your people matter most and that’s why ongoing performance management is critical to helping your people and your organization progress.