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Performance management is an ever-evolving and ever-changing subject. In the past few years, it has evolved from utilising simple paper-based methods to having all your data on Excel sheets, to finally making use of sophisticated softwares to help you build a culture of high performance at your workplace.
Throughout this change and evolution, however, there are some things that have always been the same. Now, while the process of handling these things may have progressed, the fundamental nature carries on. These are the key elements that govern the efficiency and effectiveness of every performance management system out there.
So, what are these elements? More importantly, does the performance management system used in your organization incorporate them all? No need to fret over this question, though—we’ve got you covered.
Here’s a guide to help you identify the ten key elements of a performance management system.
Key Elements Of Performance Management System
1. Goal setting
Every organization has a larger vision that’s broken down into smaller targets to progress towards it. As such, setting clear, achievable, measurable, and time-bound goals is the first step in not only building a good performance management system, but to also achieve the said vision.
Goals are also the elements that unify an organization and pushes it in the right direction. If your people are unaware of what their leaders aim to achieve, their efforts may not tie into one meaningful purpose. This is why, communicating your organizational goals is an absolute must to get the goal-setting process right.
Upon reviewing and analyzing past performance, set goals and targets for the next cycle—whether it be for a month, a quarter, half a year, or for an entire year. Make sure that the goals of your people are well-attuned to their level of competencies and account for the necessary training or development that you must provide your people to help them reach their targets.
2. Performance reviews
Performance reviews are cyclical meetings wherein the manager discusses and analyzes past performance, roadblocks and achievements with the team members individually. These meetings are scheduled as regular occurrences, usually at the end of every month or quarter.
A few things to note about these reviews is that:
- It is important that all successes are celebrated and all areas of improvement are duly discussed.
- The review should give the team members actionable insights into their past performance and potential, and give them a definite plan of action to bridge the gap between the two.
- Oftentimes, managers may be overseeing multiple functions. In such cases, it is important to make use of performance reviews to establish a meaningful relationship with each team member.
3. Continuous feedback
Continuous feedback should be a two-way street, meaning that it must be exchanged between the manager and their team members. It lets your people know what their strengths and weaknesses are while giving them a chance to let you know about your areas of improvements.
You must avoid waiting for the end of a cycle to share feedback—it is imperative that you continue sharing feedback to surface roadblocks as and when they arrive. This allows you to work together with your team member to solve the problems promptly before they grow bigger and get difficult to manage.
Not only will continuous feedback ensure you avoid any such unexpected issues, but it will also allow you to coach your team members and help them pursue their developmental goals more effectively.
And yet, that’s not the end either—continuous feedback would also ensure that your team in on track to meeting their goals. If not, it would also allow you to work together with them to realign targets and change the goals accordingly.
In case you’re planning to get started with this one, we have a guide to continuous performance management to help you hit the ground running.
4. Outcome management
Of course, it is never a guarantee that your people will be able to achieve their goals. Things can go south at a moment’s notice, which is why managing the outcome is a must. Working together with your team to identify why they are unable to get the job done is the proper way to go. Not only that, but you also need to initiate dialogue with your team over accountability and responsibility to ensure a high level of transparency and openness.
Oftentimes, it is also the case that you may not be adequately aware of your team’s desires and needs. Thus, it is important to stay in contact with them at all times to understand their needs and what motivates them to ensure successful outcomes every time.
5. Succession planning
Continuing with the previous point, a performance management system will allow you to review your talent’s performance and potential, while focusing on people who can potentially take up successive roles within your organization in the future.
To that end, you must provide them with the goals, skills, and training to not only prepare them for a future succession, but also to prepare them for taking over a future position at a short notice if an executive leaves the organization. This will ensure that your organization’s talent gaps are promptly filled and these gaps do not hamper performance.
6. Rewards and recognition
So, here’s the deal—if you want to lower those dreaded employee turnover rates and maximize your employee retention, rewarding and recognizing your people for their efforts is going to help you out big time.
What matters, however, is how you recognize the blood, sweat, and tears of your employees. There’s always the good old moolah that you can give to your employees. But, if you really wish to build a team of highly motivated, engaged, and thriving individuals, you also need to embed social recognition in your organization's culture. After all, in the long term, it’s all about hitting that chord of intrinsic motivation within your people.
One thing to note, however, is that, similar to what we discussed in performance reviews, it is imperative that you focus on your the efforts of your people more than their results. Praise the efforts, and work together with them to identify areas of improvement.
7. Training and development
One of the key responsibilities of every manager when optimizing their team’s performance is to coach and provide appropriate training to help them pursue their desired career goals. Not only you must remain approachable to solve doubts and help your team overcome roadblocks, but you must also identify developmental opportunities for your team members to pursue.
An effective performance management system would also ensure that the entire organization is well aware of its talent’s health, help them make appropriate talent decisions, and assist them in preparing their potential successors.
8. Positive reinforcement
One of the biggest challenges that arise from managing an organization’s performance is the negative connotations attached to performance appraisal. Negativity surrounding feedback, reviews, and appraisals is one of the biggest reasons why people hesitate to commit to the process.
While it’s not possible to get rid of this negativity entirely, with performance management systems, a certain level of positive reinforcement is possible to achieve that allows for everyone to feel comfortable in reviewing performance and sharing feedback.
9. Expectation management
A key objective of performance management is to establish what constitutes good performance for every role in the organization. For this, certain job-specific competencies and behaviors are established that are expected from people.
This will allow you to improve your organization’s job-fit, manage expectations, and prepare appropriate plans to help your team members acquire the skills necessary to perform their job well.
10. Open communication
Last but not least, performance management helps organizations develop a culture of openness and transparency. It creates a platform for people to freely express their feedback in a constructive way which, in turn, also brings a level of accountability and responsibility towards each other.
Not only that, but it is also a keystone in establishing meaningful relationships at the workplace. Everyone can pull each other up when required, overcome obstacles, and boost the organization’s performance through the open communication provided by performance management.
With that, we’ve covered the ten key elements of a reliable performance management system. If you don’t have a couple of these in your organization’s system, don’t worry. With proactive implementation and by working together with your team, your performance management system can be just as complete and effective as any other. Incorporate all these elements into your performance management system, and you’ve surely got this in the bag.