The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy has been devastating. Economic recovery relies, in part, on developing employees and their skills, and effective performance management is the best way to achieve this goal.

How does your performance management system stack up against changing employee and business needs? Are you providing the support your people need to be their most productive and engaged?

Why Invest in Performance Management and Employee Development?

Establishing a performance management system that effectively promotes employee development delivers a host of business benefits:

Gain a Competitive Edge

The pandemic and its lockdowns have given employees time to reassess their work life. Companies that support the development and career progression of their people will have an edge when it comes to attracting and retaining the best talent.

Minimize Churn

Embedding learning and development in the performance management process will reduce churn and save your business thousands in recruitment and onboarding costs.

Stay Ahead of the Curve

During challenging times, it can be tempting for both employees and employers to put development on the back burner, “until things are more settled” or “until the budget looks healthier.” But this time is exactly when organizations need to invest in skills development and training.

Maximize Productivity

An engaged and motivated employee is more likely to hit productivity targets than one who is demoralized and under-challenged.

How to Create a Performance Management Process that Supports Development

Considering these benefits, are you confident that your performance management process supports employee development? Are the processes you use effective in the current climate? Let’s take a closer look at how to create a performance management system that supports employee development.

Train Your Managers to Be Effective Coaches

A growing number of employees are shunning the traditional annual appraisal process in favor of developing a coaching culture that supports employee development.

Coaching is not micromanaging — a sure-fire way to alienate employees. Rather, it is supporting, guiding and training team members to identify their own development needs and find the best solutions to the challenges they face.

Many managers are in their role because they excel in their field and have extensive skills and experience in that area. Not all managers are natural coaches, but they can learn this important skill. Provide training as part of the onboarding process for all new managers, whether they were internally or externally appointed. Leaders must be equipped with the skills to ask the right questions at the right time and in the right manner. They also need a good understanding of agile goal-setting and effective listening skills.

Use Data and Feedback to Drive Development

Businesses have access to more data than ever before, on everything from employee engagement and well-being to performance and productivity. By monitoring this data and using it to guide performance conversations, managers and their team members can create relevant, useful and motivating development plans together.

The most successful organizations use employee feedback to understand what’s working and where they can make improvements. Do employees feel they have sufficient opportunities to discuss their learning and development? Is in-house training adequate? Is the performance management process helpful to employees, or do they see it as a “check-the-box” exercise?

Armed with accurate, up-to-date and honest feedback, leaders can ensure that employee development and training meet the rapidly evolving needs of their workforce. Implement ongoing development conversations to gather employee feedback and collaboratively create relevant and meaningful development plans.

Adopt an Agile Performance Management System

The way we live and work has changed. Many people are working remotely for the first time, and some employees are juggling caregiving responsibilities with work. Performance management systems need to be flexible enough to accommodate the vast array of needs and preferences of a diverse and continually evolving workforce.

Employees should not be limited in their opportunities for development and recognition due to factors beyond their control. Some employees may be forced to work from home, while others continue to visit the workplace regularly. One department may be thriving and experiencing a surge in demand, while others struggle to generate enough work for everyone. The pandemic affects areas of the business and individual employees differently.

Now more than ever, a flexible approach to performance management is essential for employee development and engagement. Use one-on-one coaching conversations to address the unique needs and challenges of each employee. Set agile goals that focus on the short and medium term, and ensure that you can easily adapt them to changing circumstances. This approach will help employees and their managers identify relevant development opportunities.

Implement a System for Measuring Success

How do you know if your performance management process is effective in supporting employee development?

The only way to gauge success is to establish a robust measurement system driven by data and employee feedback. It is also helpful to benchmark your program against best practices. There is no fixed set of rules for getting employee development “right,” but reviewing competitor practices and continually monitoring what works and what doesn’t will help you develop your own benchmarks. Finally, always be sure to align individual goals with the broader company vision and business objectives.