How can I track ongoing employee performance?
If, in 2010, your new year’s resolution is to track employee performance, congratulations! It’s an increasingly recognised means of optimising productivity and improving an organisation’s effectiveness. Its main purpose is to provide the overall structure for planning and analysis of activities for each individual, in the context of the company as a whole. In other words, to align employee and departmental goals to those of the organisation .
Regular monitoring enables you to track performance down to individual staff members and look at its impact on company goals. It helps you spot gaps in your employee pool that need to be filled. In its accuracy and objectivity, it reduces the negative subjective element of appraisal and so can more fairly help to determine promotions, pay rises, bonuses or other rewards.
The inclusion of these elements can result in a well formed performance management system:
Clear goals and measurable performance standards
The first and main reason why staff fail to meet expectations is that they don’t know what’s required of them. This means that the performance management system must first have the commitment of upper management and be implemented from the top down. Performance management begins with the senior executives linking their goals to the company’s strategic goals and so on, cascading down through each member of the company. Goals must also come with metrics – give staff a way to benchmark their own progress.
Meaningful orientation and training
Make sure staff are equipped in knowledge and ability terms for the job they’re there to do. Give them the relevant position and company-related information – product or process and customer requirements. Give them the necessary training to do the job well.
Ongoing coaching and feedback.
Employees thrive on consistent feedback, addressing strengths as well as areas for improvement. Tracking performance is much more effective when corrective action is taken early on. So, don’t wait for evaluation time; this is a daily essential part of good management – to notice and comment on staff performance. Encourage feedback; a two-way process that enables employees to seek help. Create an atmosphere where people feel secure to ask how they’re doing. This means having daily contact with employees and informal coaching along the way in what are sometimes called ‘foot locker’ sessions.
While performance management systems are often thought of as consisting only of a performance review, this should be just one element of the whole. Received wisdom is now shifting on whether the ‘traditional’ appraisal should be replaced by the 360 review, which incorporate feedback from the employee and line manager, as well as an anonymous representative colleague group. Some say this provides a more complete picture of the employee's strengths and weaknesses. Whichever format you decide to adopt for evaluation, make sure it is embedded as part of a continuous employee development process, consisting of, perhaps, quarterly semi-formal reviews as well as an annual formal review. This then should contain no shocks. If it does, it’s not the employee who’s not doing their job properly, it’s management who has failed.
Career development opportunities
Help staff develop their potential through setting goals for growth, increasingly challenging job responsibilities and cross-training to develop the necessary skills. Create a workplace in which it’s OK for people to experiment and make mistakes from which they learn and grow.
Reward and recognition
This shouldn’t be simply about money or promotion but about sending a message to an employee about their value. Staff must trust that each person making a similar contribution has an equal likelihood of being recognised. While salary, bonuses, and benefits are critical within to any recognition and reward system, think more broadly as well of such rewards as; gift certificates, weekend breaks, a hand-written letter from the CEO, public praise on the intranet, even just a great lunch.
Understand why employees leave . Their feedback will help the company improve its work environment, resulting in improved staff retention.
Performance management is about helping everyone improve and succeed. If your true goal is employee satisfaction, retention and development and increased business success, it’s probably time to resolve to move to a performance management system.