A performance management structure is critical to an organization’s ability to set goals, establish priorities, and execute on its strategy. Yet almost all organizations complain about their performance management “system.” Managers despise the annual review process and the tools used by HR, and employees resent the once per year snapshot of their performance (which often is biased by many factors including the recency effect).
At Kushner & Company, we have the expertise to analyze an organization’s strengths and leverage them in the four areas of performance management. By initially focusing not on the performance appraisal tool but rather on the process—which should be ongoing and not done only an annual basis—we can make sure that an organization’s performance management structure is correct and aligned to their strategic goals.
Goal Setting and Alignment
As part of its strategic plan, an organization sets many goals and priorities for its near and long term success. These goals are then driven down into departments, with specific objectives necessary to achieve these goals at the organizational level. At the departmental level, those components are operationalized and further driven down to the individual employee level. By establishing specific goals and outcomes expected by the manager and the employee through dialogue (for example, “we need to launch our new product by the end of next year, and you are tasked with developing the packaging for it by June 30th. You have a budget of $50,000 and a team of two people.”) with eventual agreement, the stage is set for expectations of the work necessary.
Utilizing periodic check-ins between the manager and the employee rather than waiting for a year-end review, the employee knows what is needed to accomplish her goal and can keep the manager apprised of variations. For example, “When we agreed to the packaging plan, I had two other projects to oversee as well. I’ve now been assigned an additional two projects and am not sure I can meet the June 30th deadline we established. I’ll either need additional resources to complete the project on time or else need to off-load those other two assignments.” By continuing a dialogue throughout the year the manager and employee can determine the best course of action to proceed.
All goals and objectives require an anchor to a target. How will the accomplishment of the goal be determined? By linking targets (“how will we know when we’ve reached the goal?”) and specific metrics (“what will we use to measure our accomplishment of the goal”) an employee and her manager knows what to expect and knows what yardstick will be used to measure success.
Research shows that in order to maintain an engaged workforce, employees need feedback on how they are doing in accomplishing their goals. And they need that feedback on at least a weekly basis.
No, this does not mean weekly performance reviews. Rather, managers should “check-in” on the progress of work performed and projects and learn of any issues prior to the deadline for completing the work. At its best, a year-end review should be nothing more than a compilation of all of the discussions between the manager and the employee.