Addressing poor employee performance is probably one of the most stressful and least appealing aspects of being a leader. Not tackling a performance problem in its early stages is a pitfall that some managers fall into, for any number of reasons. I have heard countless reasons (excuses) why poor employee performance has been overlooked with the five most common being:
The 90 day performance review is conducted by many organizations after an employee (new hire or transferred employee) starts a new position. Some organizations require a 90 day performance review as it marks the end of a formal ‘probationary period’ for new hires but many organizations have adopted the process as a part of sound talent management practice. While it may seem like an additional administrative formality, the 90 day review should be included as an essential step in the onboarding process as it offers employees, managers and the organization several important benefits.
Traditional performance appraisals that simply rely on manager ratings tend to focus on outcomes or individual achievements. This type of performance appraisal offers limited perspective on the wide range of performance factors that are important for leaders. The integration of upward feedback into the performance appraisal process not only helps to build a complete picture of individual leadership performance, but also offers 4 other key benefits.
Annual performance reviews are typically viewed as a dreaded business activity and for good reason. When employee performance is evaluated and discussed just once a year, a lot of things can go wrong. However the performance review discussion can be a powerful tool in building the employee-manager relationship when it is part of a continuous performance management strategy.
Leaders Should Engage to Retain and Drive Employee Performance
According to a recent survey conducted by Right Management, an astonishing 83% of the North American employees polled indicated that they plan to actively seek a new position in 2014. In addition, Harvard Business Review published a research report in 2013 which indicated that 71% of the 550 executives surveyed, placed employee engagement as a key factor in their ability to achieve organizational success. However, only 24% of these same executives indicated that they believe their workforce is highly engaged. These two sets of findings provide a great deal of insight into the job satisfaction levels of employees, as well as point to a need for organizational leaders to make employee engagement a priority.
Employee engagement is not just important for retention; employee engagement has consistently been linked to employee and business performance. While senior leaders play a major role in creating a culture that facilitates employee engagement, the employee-manager relationship is even more critical - specifically, the way in which managers continuously manage the performance and development of employees. Unfortunately, recent research by Dale Carnegie found that 80% of employees who were disengaged were also dissatisfied with their current manager.
Employee Performance Management is a Key Leadership Competency
Setting goals is not just about documenting what we are hoping to accomplish so that we can measure against it later. Goal Setting is about motivating effort and action to facilitate high performance. The theory of Goal Setting is regarded as among the most valid and practical motivation theories in the fields of Industrial Organizational psychology and organization behavior. Click here to read about the foundation of Locke and Latham's theory of Goal Setting.
Peer Review Enhances Traditional Performance Appraisal
One of the many strategies that organizations are using to enhance the traditional performance appraisal process is to incorporate feedback from multiple sources. Traditional performance appraisals that simply rely on manager ratings tend to focus on outcomes or individual achievements. As a result, the collaborative work that individuals do on a daily basis made be overlooked.
One of the countless complaints about performance reviews is that performance ratings are inaccurate. Whether an organization is using a traditional 5 point rating scale to evaluate performance criteria or a non-numeric determination of overall performance, the general trend is for the distribution of ratings to be positively skewed versus represent a normal bell curve.
Employee performance management systems have received a great deal of attention in the business media over the past few weeks, as news that Microsoft, Motorola and Yahoo have made changes to their systems. The amount of commentary about these changes has been quite astonishing. Everyone seems to have an opinion about the best way to implement performance management. In fact, I chimed in myself in a recent editorial post, Don't Blame Performance Reviews, Blame Poor Leadership.
Although all of the performance review naysayers might have you believe that the general populace despises the practice of assessing performance, my team and I are on the front line of working with people everyday who beg to differ. It is always my pleasure to speak with employees and managers after they have received performance feedback – some of it glowing, much of it developmental and growth-oriented. During performance review and regular coaching discussions, managers consider the performance feedback from various sources and perspectives and wield it into a tool, a plan really, for moving forward. More often than not these conversations become an intensely introspective exercise that provides the spark for change. Engaging in such breakthrough dialogue is only made possible by the managers and other feedback providers who sacrificed a bit of time from their lengthy to-do list to gift this individual with direct and honest feedback on their performance. In my experience, it is something that most people take seriously, and in fact are extremely grateful to have received.