Performance management is a crucial aspect of any organisation.

It involves the process of setting goals, monitoring progress, and providing feedback to employees to improve their performance. However, despite its importance, many companies struggle with implementing an effective performance management system.

In this article, we will explore the reasons why keeping score is so important, why it can be challenging, and what an effective performance management system looks like.

 

Why is Performance Management Important?

Performance management is essential for several reasons:

 

Improves Performance

 

The primary goal of performance management is to improve the performance of employees. By setting clear goals and providing regular feedback, employees are motivated to work towards achieving those goals. This leads to increased productivity, higher employee engagement and better results for the company.

As such, good performance is rewarded; underperformance triggers action to address the problem.

 

Aligns Individual Goals with Company Goals

 

An effective performance management system ensures that individual goals are aligned with the company’s overall goals. This creates a sense of purpose and direction for employees, as they understand how their work contributes to the success of the company.

 

Encourages Employee Development

 

Performance management also involves identifying areas for improvement and providing opportunities for employee development. This not only benefits the individual but also the company as a whole, as employees become more skilled and knowledgeable.

 

Facilitates Communication and Feedback

 

Regular performance reviews and feedback sessions provide a platform for open communication between managers and employees. This allows for any issues or concerns to be addressed promptly, leading to a more positive and productive work environment.

 

Why is Keeping Score Challenging?

Despite the benefits of performance management, many companies struggle with implementing an effective system. Here are some of the reasons why keeping score can be challenging:

 

Annual Reviews are Not Enough

 

Many companies still rely on annual performance reviews as their primary method of performance management. However, this is not enough to provide employees with the feedback and support they need to improve their performance. Annual reviews are often too infrequent and do not allow for real-time adjustments.

 

Poor Targets

 

Selecting the right targets is both science and art. If they are too easy, they won’t improve performance. If they are out of reach, staff won’t even try to hit them. The best targets are attainable but with a healthy element of stretch required.

Establishing SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) goals can significantly enhance the effectiveness of performance targets. These criteria ensure that goals are clear and attainable while still challenging. It’s also crucial to regularly review and adjust these targets in response to changing circumstances and performance data.

Involve employees in the goal-setting process to ensure that targets are realistic and aligned with their capabilities and aspirations.

This collaborative approach not only enhances buy-in but also helps employees understand the rationale behind their targets and the expectations placed upon them.

 

Transparency Challenges in Goal Alignment

 

Employees need to trust that their performance targets drive meaningful accomplishments. Unfortunately, the connection between individual efforts and organisational objectives often becomes murky as metrics and targets flow down the hierarchy. At various management levels, buffers may be introduced to safeguard against underperformance or to enhance personal standing. Consequently, metrics at one level may lack a logical link to those higher up in the hierarchy.

To address transparency challenges, it is vital to establish clear communication channels and ensure that goals at all levels are interconnected.

Start by clearly articulating the organisation’s overall objectives and breaking these down into specific, actionable targets for each department and individual.

Regularly communicate how individual and team goals contribute to the broader organisational objectives. Use visual tools such as strategy maps or balanced scorecards to illustrate these connections.

Encouraging managers at all levels to have open discussions about goal alignment can also help to reinforce the link between individual efforts and the company’s strategic goals.

 

Lack of Dialogue

 

Effective performance management hinges on consistent and transparent communication. It’s not merely about tracking metrics; it’s about integrating these metrics into the daily rhythm of an organisation’s operations.

Regular team meetings, such as daily briefings, safety discussions, and debriefs, play a crucial role in involving team members and keeping everyone aligned with the organisation’s priorities.

Furthermore, organisations should foster an environment where feedback is seen as a positive and integral part of daily operations. Provide training for managers on how to give constructive feedback and facilitate meaningful conversations. By making performance discussions a regular part of the work routine, employees are more likely to feel engaged, informed, and motivated to improve.

 

What is an Effective Performance Management System?

An effective performance management system addresses the challenges mentioned above and focuses on continuous improvement and development. Here is a summary of the key elements of an effective performance management system:

  1. Goal Setting and Monitoring: an effective performance management system involves setting clear and measurable goals for employees. These goals should be aligned with the company’s overall objectives and should be regularly monitored to track progress.
  2. Real-Time Feedback: instead of relying on annual reviews, an effective performance management system encourages real-time feedback. This allows for immediate adjustments and improvements, leading to better performance.
  3. Involvement of Managers and Employees: a productive performance management system involves both managers and employees in the process. Managers should provide regular feedback and support, while employees should be encouraged to take ownership of their performance and development.
  4. Individual and Company Goals: aligning individual goals with the company’s overall goals is also essential for an effective performance management system. This creates a sense of purpose and direction for employees, increasing motivation and productivity.
  5. Employee Development: an effective performance management system should also focus on employee development. This can include training, mentoring, and coaching to help employees improve their skills and knowledge.
  6. Continuous Improvement: a successful performance management system is not a one-time process. It should involve continuous monitoring, feedback, and adjustments to ensure that employees constantly improve and reach their full potential.

 

Who is Responsible for Performance Management?

While the human resources department may play a role in implementing and managing a performance management system, it is ultimately the responsibility of both managers and employees.

Managers should provide regular feedback and support, while employees should take ownership of their performance and development.

 

Takeaways

Performance management is crucial for improving employee performance and experience, aligning individual goals with company goals, and encouraging employee development. However, it can be challenging to implement an effective performance management system. 

By focusing on goal setting, real-time feedback, involvement of managers and employees, and continuous improvement, companies can create a system that leads to high-performing employees and a successful organisation.

At The Polyglot Group, we specialise in creating tailored performance management systems that drive results. Don’t let underperformance hold your team back—reach out to our experts today!

Celine Senior HR Advisor

About the Author:

With over 20 years' experience in Human Resources, working across both government & private sectors, Celine is an expert at her craft. As a Senior HR Advisor, Celine has extensive experience working across different industries, advising clients on a wide range of HR topics.
Read more about Celine Rethore.