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The Complete Guide to Continuous Performance Management

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An astonishingly low number of employees feel that their performance appraisal is effective. Polling regularly shows about 1 in 5 professionals support the traditional annual or bi-annual performance review. This data clearly suggests that the system of analyzing employee performance and offering feedback needs major adjusting.

A new employee review system is proving to be effective and welcomed by staff and managers alike. Continuous performance management is being adopted by forward-thinking companies looking to not only improve the employee review process, but encourage employee growth and team morale. Read on to learn more about strategies for continuous employee performance management that are designed to maximize the benefits of this process for your company.

What Is Continuous Performance Management?

As the name suggests, continuous performance management involves conducting ongoing employee reviews throughout the year. The definition of continuous will differ for each organization and even by teams within the same organization, but it will be at frequent and regular intervals.

Similarly, the criteria for evaluation may be different for each workplace, but it usually involves an employee’s daily performance, developmental progress, work ethic, wellness needs and attitude towards work. In short, it is holistic in its scope and approach.

What Are the Benefits of Continuous Performance Management?

Below are five clear benefits of continuously managing employee performance over the traditional performance review process. The cumulative effect of these advantages is creating an organizational culture that prizes employee growth and wellness.

1. Timely Feedback for Greater Impact

The traditional employee review that occurs once or twice a year creates an extremely slow feedback cycle. A continuous employee performance management process allows employees to receive contemporaneous insight into their performance thereby making the feedback far more effective.

2. More Complete Picture of Employee Performance

How can six or twelve months’ worth of work be fully represented in a brief meeting? Well, we all know the answer to that: it can’t. Frequent performance meetings allow employees to receive a more complete picture of the work they have done and are in the process of doing.

3. More Accurate Feedback

Employees may leave a traditional annual review meeting feeling dissatisfied because negative work habits or outcomes were unfairly overly represented. Conversely, employees may have an inflated sense of accomplishment following a traditional performance review meeting that glossed over or missed areas of needed improvement.

4. More Opportunities for Praise and Corrective Interventions

By meeting regularly with employees, managers have more opportunities to provide positive feedback on work well done. On the other end of the feedback spectrum, managers also have more opportunities for corrective interventions on work issues.

Hot Tip: Studies show that employees respond best to a positive to negative feedback ratio of 5:1.

5. Employees Feel Appreciated

Meeting regularly with employees shows your staff that you care about them. A manager who is really committed to the continuous performance management model will provide feedback that is specific, insightful and constructive, which amplifies the employee’s sense of feeling invested in and appreciated.

How Is Continuous Performance Management Created and Implemented?

Continuous employee performance management is more than an appraisal system; it is an organizational mindset that places the employee experience first. Here are five steps for creating and implementing a well-designed continuous performance management model.

1. Get Buy-In from Management

The key to getting the company behind continuous performance management is having leaders set the example. Managers and other staff may be resistant to organizational change, especially one as significant as scrapping annual appraisals. Get buy-in by presenting the business benefits of ongoing performance management backed with relevant data.

Avoid managers signing onto an ongoing review process without being sufficiently engaged by ensuring that they understand the system’s value in truly boosting team performance. Stress how a more engaged and motivated team guided by regular check-ins is well worth the time transitioning to it.

2. Establish Standardized Meetings and Frequency

The backbone of continuous performance management are one-on-one check-ins between supervisors and their direct reports. These ideally occur on a weekly basis. If this is not feasible, try for bi-weekly or monthly meetings.

Additionally, one-to-one meetings should be standardized so expectations about how they are conducted are clear. One way to do this is with check-in templates that help managers prepare for check-ins and boost employee engagement by having them fill it out.

3. Communicate Principles and Ensure They Guide the Process

The core of continuous performance management is employee performance improvement and personal development. This is a complete 180-degree turn from traditional performance management where supervisors drive a one-way discussion.

Make it clear that the new process is collaborative in nature and truly values employee betterment. Establish specific expectations about how meetings are conducted, utilizing standardization templates, that are informed by the guiding employee-first principle.

Ensure that a roadmap for employee growth is part and parcel to the meeting standardization process. Also, make expectations clear about how employee growth is measured, evaluated and tracked over time. Of course, not every employee performance metric is objective, but should form the majority of the evaluation to avoid mostly subjective judgments. While subjective analysis can provide valuable insight and context concerning employee performance, having quantifiable data decreases bias and allows for more informed decisions about an employee’s career path, compensation and promotions.

4. Provide Training and Guidance

Once all of the groundwork has been laid in establishing the system expectations, now is the time for implementation. The first step here is providing the appropriate training. Train managers on the logistics of your new system, and ensure they have the soft skills to deliver on it.

The soft skills required to effectively conduct one-on-one conversations with employees may not come naturally to some managers. Be sure to give them any additional leadership training to supplement their abilities. The 1:1 meetings are the foundation of the entire ongoing performance review system, after all, so your managers must have the skills to conduct them effectively.

5. Develop an Analytics System for Performance Data

Collecting employee performance data is critical to making sound decisions about individual worker performance, team accomplishments and a reward system. This of course informs salaries, budgets and forecasting.

Additionally, this performance information can inform the continuous performance management system itself. This data can be used by leaders to make alterations to the system and increase its effectiveness. The data can be captured in any number of ways, but ideal systems will be centralized and integrated into human resources platforms for visibility and ease of access.

Bringing It All Together

Delivering regular feedback to your workers and inputs into your company’s appraisal apparatus brings about massive positive changes up and down the chain - from the individual employee up to the organizational level. Today’s fast-paced business environment demands a responsive team to handle shifting challenges and priorities. One tool to keep you ahead of the ever-changing work dynamics is a well-planned and expertly implemented continuous employee performance management system that also keeps your workers optimally productive and helps to retain your top talent.



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