Performance management – a year-round event

This post is the first in this series considering performance management as a year-round event. As the image in this post implies, your company’s culture is a puzzle. Performance management is a large piece of the puzzle and greatly impacts the company.

I have worked at companies where performance management is a single, annual event (maybe even twice a year.) From an HR compliance perspective, it’s easier administratively if a company has scheduled periods of time for reviews to be completed, especially in companies where performance review completion is a KPI in the management bonus scheme. As an HR leader who is responsible for payroll and compliance, I agree with a single set of dates where everyone does their reviews! Simple for payroll scheduling! Simple for annual compliance! Simple, simple, simple!

But as an employee I think about this differently. (I am, after all, an employee at my company. So are YOU!) I want to have an opportunity to meet my manager’s expectations. If my manager isn’t pleased with my performance I want to know about it. I also want to have the opportunity for my voice to be heard. I might want to talk about work load; staffing needs; concerns about my team’s performance; etc. Having the opportunity to engage each other in these topics is important to me – and I think it would be important to my manager.

I doubt there is anything in writing at your company that states “We have an annual performance program. More frequent performance discussions are completely discouraged!” You have control that in your team you can have more frequent discussions with your team members. They can be less formal than your company’s annual review program. They can be a one-one discussion where you ask your employees, “How are things going?”; “How is your workload compared to your work/life balance goals?”, and (my favorite!) “How can I help you achieve your goals?”

In these discussions, you also have the opportunity to talk about achievements and short-comings. Be honest with your employees. Be careful to include both of these features of their performance – not just the short-comings. This is a good way to keep an employee’s desire to know where they stand in your perspective and know how to continue their performance in the future.