Gone are the days when annual evaluations serve the needs of a feedback loop for employees. This approach won’t serve organizations well in retaining high-performing contributors. What has shown to be key in retaining and attracting high-performing talent is a robust, people-focused purpose-driven performance management model – a model that involves collaboration between leaders and the people whom they serve, partner with and lead. The model is connected and takes time to build; however, the results involve a huge return on investment in both business and people results. Here are four elements of this model.
1. Communication Meet-Ups
Employees crave communication. They appreciate being “in the know,” having clear expectations, being able to celebrate wins and being able to connect what they are doing with the organization’s purpose. Communication meet-ups can range from in-person huddles to communication apps. They are a way to share information, either one on one or in groups, and to empower employees by ensuring they have the right information to foster growth and creative thinking. When employees have the information they need, they can take great strides in testing their growth skills on the results they are working toward. Additionally, having regular, open communication is a huge engagement factor, a theme you’ll see in all four elements of a robust performance management model.
2. Development Conversations
According to Gallup research, a focus on growth and development is key to employee engagement. High-performing employees want to keep growing and being challenged. They’ve laid out ways to develop and are looking for time with their leaders to partner on the difficulties they may be having as they grow, items they want to bounce off the leader for coaching or working through next steps in their plan.
Whatever the focus, development conversations are critical for today’s workforce. Employees are less concerned about career ladders in companies and more occupied with growth ladders. Any performance management model should include built-in development conversations. These conversations aren’t annual reviews or quarterly check-ins; they are 10- to 15-minute check-in conversations. If leaders can do them as frequently as weekly, they should.
3. Performance Dashboards
An often overlooked key element of performance management models is performance dashboards. These dashboards should contain meaningful metrics for leaders and their employees that connect the work they do to the organization’s “why.” Employees feel a sense of connection when they can see how their work is purposeful, worthwhile and making a difference.
Too often, performance dashboards are constrained by an attempt to fit everyone around the same set of key indicators. But guess what? People want to be individuals. They want their “why” to connect to their company’s “why.” Don’t allow performance dashboards to constrain the connection of those whys. Allow for flexibility by empowering the employees to identify some of their metrics, and discuss the connections in communication meet-ups and development conversations. Leaders can help in guiding and scoping the metrics during development conversations.
Not all employees will hit this process out of the park on swing one, two or three. It is a continuous improvement process. However, as the dashboards are built, they are still founded on metrics the employees chose, that have value and meaning to them. This process is another key engagement factor.
4. Thought Experiments/Passion Projects
The fourth element is not practiced in a lot of organizations. You probably won’t find a place for this piece in a traditional performance management suite yet, but as employees keep asking for it, it will start to show up. Google once had a policy that allowed employees to dedicate 20 percent of their time to work on passion projects, and while they removed parts of this policy, it inspired other companies. Organizations saw it as an opportunity for an abstract training ground that was a value-add for employees.
Incorporate time into employee’s schedules to experiment. Whether it’s thought experiment on how to improve a process or time to work on a passion side project, this time allows for questioning. In an age where we have multiple answers right at our fingertips, the value of a beautiful question has increased drastically. It also allows for employees to have a sense of ownership in what they are doing.
A good performance management model for employees is a must. Employees want to work for an organization that invests in them. The four elements shared here don’t cost a lot to get up and running. Most are now basic expectations employees have of their employers. Take this opportunity to impact employees’ lives and be actively involved in their development by implementing a strong performance management model.