Bringing the best out of employees with performance management

Tony Tran, Lead People Scientist, Culture Amp, explains why effective performance management can help create happy and productive employees.
By: | October 31, 2022

Throughout the pandemic, some employees endeavour to do their best at work and voluntarily takes on extra responsibilities and duties to help their employers through the pandemic.

As weeks turn into months and months turn into years, these employees feel exhausted and increasingly disgruntled, partly because they do not feel that their efforts are being appreciated.

Frustrated, they begin to explore their options for alternative employment, while deciding that they will no longer go above and beyond at work.

If employers are not already aware, employee burnout and its consequences can have a negative impact on organisational success and typically, it begins with how fairly, or unfairly, employees perceive their performance to be judged.

Tony Tran, Lead People Scientist, Culture Amp, told HRM Asia, “Once we get past the viral memes, ‘quiet quitting’ is really putting a spotlight on performance management processes. The reason organisations spend so much time focusing on performance management is that they recoginise that to succeed, they need to get the best out of their people.”

“However, if these processes are inadequate, employees may feel that the way performance is being managed is unfair, unclear, and lacks transparency.”

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Tony-Tran.png

“The reason organisations spend so much time focusing on performance management is that they recoginise that to succeed, they need to get the best out of their people.” – Tony Tran, Lead People Scientist, Culture Amp

When employees make a conscious effort to do the bare minimum required of their roles, employers lose out on discretionary effort, which does not merely equate to working harder or longer. An engaged and motivated employee, Tran said, will also think about how they can work better and more effectively.

To create an engaged and motivated workforce, he recommended that organisations examine what might currently be lacking in their employee experience strategies. For example, how do employees perceive “organisational justice” in your organisation?

“Employees who feel that they are being treated fairly are more likely to exhibit organisational citizenship behaviours such as going above and beyond what is expected,” Tran explained.

Organisations can also motivate employees by recognising exemplary work, give positive feedback and reward employees who show discretionary effort.

“If nobody is being recognised or rewarded, fairness must mean that we all work at the same baseline level. Other than relying on altruistic or intrinsic motivators, why would employees work harder or smarter if it doesn’t lead to pay increases or promotions?”, Tran asked.

Make performance management work for your people

When implementing workplace systems and processes, many organisations overlook the fact that success will largely depend on their people and how they manage these systems and processes.

Performance management processes for instance, rely on the false assumption that if inputs are clearly defined, and all elements weighted and optimised to the nth degree, the outcomes will naturally be robust and fair.

This is untrue, as Tran explained, “Organisations create robust but extremely complicated and time-consuming processes, but managers don’t tend to live and breathe these kinds of HR processes day in and day out. These processes can then be overly complicated for a time-poor leader, who must perform a highly important, impactful, and complex task, which they practice once or twice a year.”

Instead, modern performance management processes should be simplified, and the training and instructions on how to manage these processes unambiguous.

Using the analogy of designing defibrillators, Tran described, “Each step in the design of defibrillators is designed to be simple. The order or steps involved are clear and transparent, and there is clear feedback when you are doing it correctly. This comes from the understanding that anyone who is using a defibrillator is likely to have not used it before.”

“We need to remember that a performance review, for example, is not a HR process. It’s a manager/direct report activity and needs to be designed with users in mind.”

He is also quick to disabuse the notion that performance management is just about performance reviews or the management of poor performance. Instead, organisations should see performance management as an ongoing and continuous process in which managers steer and mentor their direct reports to better performance.

“This means ensuring that positive or redirecting feedback is given frequently in a way that performance reviews should be just a perfunctory task to formalise conversations that have happened all year,” Tran said.

READ: Adopting a people centric approach to performance management

To help unlock the power of a flexible performance management process, Culture Amp’s Performance solution allows organisations to easily create, track, and update objectives and key results.

It also provides a templated tool that enables more effective one-to-one meetings between managers and their direct reports and provides calibrations to support equitable performance reviews.

This means that employee performance can be tracked across the entire organisation and allows leaders to avoid bias in their performance evaluation process, ensuring performance ratings are accurate, meaningful, and positively impact employees.

A continuous feedback functionality also makes it simple for anyone to provide or request feedback at any time. This helps organisations create a feedback culture and supports leaders to accurately evaluate performance across their teams.

Click here to learn more about how Culture Amp’s Performance solution can help your organisation improve your performance management strategies and create high-performing teams.