As much as it is an employee’s responsibility to set and work towards measureable professional targets, it is also the job of an employer or manager to help navigate their staff members through the choppy waters of professional development. By taking simple steps as an employer, you can combat the common and archaic belief that performance management techniques such as appraisals and annual reviews are ‘seriously deflating to an employee’s sense of worth.’
Know Your Employees
The Performance Management Group suggests that employees and employers alike should reflect on preferred learning styles when setting professional goals at review. Some of your team members will thrive on being given the chance to experiment; others will develop through shadowing more experienced members of staff. For many employees, training and learning is consolidated when knowledge is imparted to others, so make the most of chances for your employees to mentor and train new staff. This is as much about professional development as personal development, so setting up a mentoring or ‘buddying’ system can be a golden opportunity for your team members – both new and existing – to flourish. Using a good HR management system to record details of your employees’ past and upcoming professional training as well as details of past employment will keep you fully in the picture and help you make suitable suggestions for their development.
Sidestep the paper-trail by keeping all your PM documents in one place. Running your performance management cycle through HR software is just another way of streamlining the review process for both managers and employees. Make use of in the Cloud HR software to ensure that every step of your employees’ performance management process is documented and readily accessible. Use your HR program to share the performance review format with your employees well in advance of their appraisal meetings – nobody wants a surprise on appraisal day. The best HR software packages on the market can offer real-time PM tracking features and tools for recording employees’ development needs and action plans throughout the year. Software packages such as these also allow managers to create customised appraisal templates. Using in the Cloud software takes the fuss out of distributing appraisal forms, and progress towards targets can be logged and monitored on the go. Potentially complex 360 peer reviews can also be undertaken and analysed effectively through these paperless methods, too.
Appraisals: Take it Outside
A looming appraisal can strike fear into the heart of even the hardiest employee. In fact, 24% of US workers cited their annual appraisal as the worst thing about their job, and one only needs to read the title of the Forbes’ article that refers to performance appraisals as ‘a workplace evil’ to know that appraisals get a very bad press the world over. These days, employers are increasingly holding appraisal meetings outside the confines of the workplace, so head out to your local coffee shop or go for a bite to eat. Not only will this set the right celebratory tone, but it allows a mutual environment for an open and two-sided discussion free from prying eyes and ears in the office. Be aware when target setting that two or three goals are probably enough – too many targets can demoralise or overwhelm; too few can cause motivation to slump. The Performance Management Group stresses that when setting targets with your employees, priorities should be made crystal clear.
Your employees can only be expected to take their professional development seriously if you do too; performance culture in the workplace has its roots at the top. Management consultants at Hay Group found that half of public sector workers and one third of business leaders regard performance management as a box-ticking exercise. Revolutionise attitudes in your workplace by making performance management an open and accessible topic.
Written by Michael Palmer, an Oxford based business graduate who specialises in writing about employee engagement, people mangagement and other HR issues.