Why performance management should be about engagement, not assessment


We’ve all sweated our way through the tension of a performance review. And for those of you who’ve yet to experience it from the other side of the desk, take it from me: it’s just as stressful for the reviewer as it is for the employee being assessed. How can we turn the performance management process into a productive part of employee development, rather than a dreaded conflict? Well for a start, get rid of ratings.

Focus on development, not intimidation

According to Deloitte, the culture of performance management is shifting. It’s becoming less about ratings and assessment and more about engagement. In a piece analysing the results of their 2015 Human Capital Trends Report, Deloitte’s human capital experts Nathan Sloan, Akio Tsuchida and David Parent argue that modern performance management looks at “helping managers coach people to succeed.”

Managers will get better results using performance management to help their staff develop.

“Performance management is being reinvented for a new, forward-looking purpose: to serve as an efficient, focused business process that improves employee engagement and drives business results,” the authors say.

According to their article, several major companies, including Microsoft and Adobe, have reduced the importance of ratings in their performance management processes. This decision was based on their understanding that ratings-based performance management has a negative effect on employee engagement and company culture. Rather than intimidating their staff to work harder with the threat of a bad review, managers will get better results from treating the process as a chance to help their staff develop and improve. As the writers put it:

“A well-functioning performance management process should facilitate good management by good managers who are trained as coaches and mentors rather than as evaluators and graders.”

Effective managers place the focus on engaging their staff and helping them develop into their roles.Effective managers place the focus on engaging their staff and helping them develop into their roles.

The role managers play in staff development

A 2015 survey by global risk management advisors Willis Towers Watson found that performance management can be more effective for staff development when managers are equipped to do it properly. This means that managers need the right education and support to make the process constructive and beneficial. It also means that the performance management process is an ongoing dialogue throughout the year rather than a single annual grilling.

This is where we come in. ICML offers a Managing Performance Skills training course here in Melbourne that will help your managers learn to get the best out of their staff. As part of our management coaching we’ll discuss how to evaluate effectively and give constructive, motivating feedback and look at how you can use performance reviews to improve and inspire your team. Talk to us today about how this training can help your managers develop your staff’s potential.

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