Build long-term employee loyalty with ongoing performance assessment and development.
Performance management has become a hot topic in recent months, especially among companies that feel the pressure to attract and retain top talent in a highly competitive hiring market. This is the reason why many companies have begun promoting their ongoing performance management programs as part of the recruiting and hiring process and making it an important priority in the onboarding period. By including this commitment to their employees’ long-term satisfaction, companies have seen retention improve by up to 25 percent, thanks to a well-designed onboarding program that focuses on future growth.
But, what happens after the onboarding and “honeymoon” period is over? Is the program that was promised to be so proactive and forward-thinking working as expected? Unfortunately, the evidence doesn’t seem to indicate success. According to a survey by Watson Wyatt, only three in 10 workers say their company’s performance management system actually helps improve performance, and fewer than 40 percent say their systems establish clear goals, generate honest feedback, or use technology to streamline the process.
So, what can a company do to avoid the appearance of a bait and switch when it comes to performance management? It starts by actually practicing what you preach, and ensuring that the process started during the honeymoon continues throughout the employment lifecycle. Here are a few tips to help make the transition:
1. Make performance management real-time. Most companies distribute a performance review questionnaire to new hires, so they’ll know what to expect. But true performance management doesn’t happen just once, or even twice, a year. It happens daily, with real-time communication to ensure both the employee and employer’s needs are being met. Use technology, such as a gamification, enterprise social or performance management platforms, to recognize employees’ contributions on a regular basis, and communicate issues or concerns before they become a problem.
2. Practice periodic goal-setting and review. Encourage managers and employees to work together to devise short-, mid-, and long-term goals that align with the business strategy. Review progress frequently—weekly or bi-weekly for short-term goals, and monthly or quarterly for mid-term and long-term stretch goals. By checking in on progress, both employees and the company have a better chance of righting the ship if there’s an issue and amplifying the likelihood of success. Again, use technology to track progress, recognize accomplishments and take in feedback to make the process more efficient and effective.
3. Encourage career growth and professional development. Helping new employees to build a career path plan during the honeymoon stage demonstrates the company’s desire to see them progress. Provide learning and development opportunities such as a stipend and time off to pursue continuing education and skills training. Establish a system for rewarding staff members who improve their professional skill set, and encourage them to present a synopsis of any relevant learning to their team or department so that everyone can benefit from the new knowledge.
4. Ensure workflows are efficient and well understood. It might sound simple, but don’t make employees struggle to do their jobs. It’s easy for even the poorest, slowest, and most cumbersome processes to become engrained in the workflow, causing employee frustration and dissatisfaction. Instead, routinely ask if there are bottlenecks or hurdles that cause problems, and seek employees’ input in addressing them. New employees can provide a fresh set of eyes on a process that hasn’t been looked at in a long time. Not only can this approach help solve the primary problem, but it also demonstrates that the company invites and implements employee input.
For ongoing performance management to become a reality, it must be intentionally built into the company’s culture. It must be part of everyday life, not just an isolated activity with a stop and a start date. By continuing to walk the walk after the new employee’s honeymoon period has ended, companies can maintain long-term engagement and satisfaction among employees and keep their best and brightest talent on the team.
Dominique Jones is the chief people officer at Halogen Software.
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