Jennifer Currence (www.OnCoreMgt.com) is the president of OnCore Management Solutions LLC in Tampa Bay, Florida, where she develops employee talent through customized training and coaching programs. She is also the founder of OnCore Academy, which provides online recertification credits and resources for HR
Jennifer has been published in HR Magazine and featured in Fast Company magazine,
USA Weekly, and HR.com. She is a regular speaker at regional, national, and
international events and conferences, and is the author of an eight-book series
published by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) on behavioral
competencies: Making an Impact in Small Business.
What is currently missing in the way overall employee performance is being managed?
In one word, feedback. As cognitive human beings, we increase our performance by reflecting on what’s working and what’s not working. Employees want feedback. In fact, they thrive from it. Managers hinder their employees’ performance (and therefore their organization’s performance) when they withhold feedback. To ensure this doesn’t happen in their companies, leaders can do two things:
1) Provide Training: A 2016 Harvard Business Review article showcased a survey that found 69% of managers are uncomfortable communicating with their employees, and 37% of managers are uncomfortable giving direct feedback when they have something negative to say about an employee’s performance. Managers need to be taught coaching techniques to provide direct, honest, and well-received feedback to employees. (see article here: https://hbr.org/2016/03/two-thirds-of-managers-are-uncomfortable-communicating-with-employees)
2) Apply Consistently: Many companies still only require their managers to provide feedback once per year, when it’s required at annual performance reviews. If managers are held accountable for regular feedback sessions, employees receive more input about what’s working well and what needs to be changed on a timely and effective basis.
Given that a company’s workforce now has a significant proportion of virtual and freelance workers, how should performance management include them?
People are people no matter where or how they work. They still need regular touch points to ensure they are staying on track and working toward the goal. Business is changing constantly, and if virtual employees and freelancers aren’t kept abreast of the changes, they could be wasting valuable productivity time – and therefore money – for the organization. It begins and endures with communication, which can happen technically through CRM or online software, via phone, via text, via video conferencing… there are so many options available; the secret is to commit to it and do it.
What are employees, managers and decision makers looking to make performance management more effective?
We know that employees want more feedback, and managers are uncomfortable providing it. We don’t provide constructive feedback for fear of hurting people’s feelings, but when we when we withhold this vital information, we’re actually hurting them more by not telling them the truth about their performance. As a result, we wait until a problem grows so large that it hurts the business. I believe that if we can build a culture within our organizations that support consistent transparency, and change the mindset that pointing out something that isn’t working is a good thing and beneficial to the business instead of a personal attack on one individual, our employees will have mutual trust, enhanced engagements, and our businesses will thrive.
What are some of the new things being introduced in Performance Management that are working/not working?
Simply requiring managers to provide more performance appraisals during the year will not solve the problem. Feedback forms, if used, need to be simpler, and managers must be trained on how to conduct the sessions using powerful questions and honest feedback. If companies don’t spend the time and money to create these winning scenarios, they will lose more time and money in the long term due to frustrated employees and managers. Coaching for leaders is a skillset that is gaining popularity, and I believe it is a great benefit for organizations.
If not periodic appraisals, then what & how?
The answer to this question is truly situational. One solution might work great for one company but not so well for another. Here are some ideas that employers can consider:
1) Train managers with basic coaching skills to ask powerful questions of people instead of telling them what to do. The reality of one person having the answers to all of the company’s problems is implausible.
2) Train employees to provide feedback to their managers. One tool that encourages this is the Stay Interview.
3) Eliminate formal reviews and train managers to log incidents – good and bad – that happen throughout the day or week. Some companies document short notes of performance via an online performance management system. The result is more of a daily diary.
4) Implement a “daily stand-up huddle” that lasts for 10-15 minutes each morning and encourages team communication and collaboration.