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Performance Management as a Driver of Employee Engagement: It Requires a Coach

It is no secret that performance management is evolving.  Gone (or almost gone) are the days when the annual performance review was the benchmark for evaluating employee performance. Indeed, managers don’t like giving them and employees don’t like receiving them; and in many organizations, they function almost solely as a means to grade an employee against their peers and determine the level of their compensation. The annual appraisal is a snapshot in time, static, lacks agility, is rarely a meaningful reflection of employee performance and is certainly not focused on building relationships, teams, or driving engagement.

Employers are shifting to more agile systems, focused on goal management, frequent check-ins, and continuous feedback. It is a system that relies upon relationships and teamwork to reach organizational goals. This shift, in order to be effective, requires managers to move from part-time evaluator to full-time coach.

How does an organization move from the old model of performance management to the model of performance engagement?

  1. Invest in training your managers to be coaches . According to Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workforce Report, only one in five employees say their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work. Motivating employees requires skilled coaches who establish expectations, create accountability, and create an environment that is both encouraging and purposeful.
  2. Shift from a system of individual ‘grades’ to one that takes a 360 degree look at the individual and the team . Instead of managers focusing on assigning grades to various performance objectives established long ago, focus on the employee’s role within the organization and their impact and influences on those in all directions (up, down, and lateral). Frequent check-ins and feedback with all members of the team provide an opportunity to gain a more holistic view of the employees’ contributions and performance.
  3. Cultivate the idea that performance engagement is an integral part of the overall employee experience . The overall employee experience is what drives (or detracts from) employee engagement. Performance management needs to be considered just as much a part of the employee experience as recruitment, education and training opportunities, and compensation. It should not be neglected.

Viewing performance management as an integral part of the overall employee experience makes it a powerful tool for engaging employees and driving business outcomes.  The impact of these new performance practices is high. The Deloitte 2017 report on Global Human Capital Trends notes that 90 percent of companies that have redesigned their performance management practices see direct improvements in employee engagement, with 83 percent saying they see the quality of conversations between managers and employees going up. Forward thinking organizations will investment the time and resources to make this shift and position themselves for success.