We are coming to the end of the calendar year, which typically focuses on the annual performance review. It is no secret that employees dread their yearly evaluation. Whether they admit it or not, most managers dread it just as much. Few managers and even fewer employees are trained in the fine art of a productive annual review. This results in outcomes that range from mediocre to destructive to overall employee and organization performance.
The annual review is a critical phase of the traditional performance management life cycle. The performance management lifecycle definition encompasses four main stages:
Over the next couple of weeks, I will explore these phases with you and would love for you to join the conversation. Before we head there, however, I am offering my contrarian view that Performance Management starts long before goal planning – it begins at Org Design and continues through Separation.
Do you know what skills are needed to ensure your support model is well supported? Performance management starts with ensuring you have the right organization with the right skills defined and aligned to meet the goals of the organization. The “Right” organization assumes you’ve identified the skills and that you’ve mapped these skills to the talent acquisition plan. There is nothing more crucial to the success of the organization than, in the words of Jim Collins, the author of Good to Great, “getting the right people on the bus.” It is impossible to get the right people if you don’t know what the bus needs.
Once you have determined the right skills and hired the right people, are you empowering them to be as successful as possible before they even start? Try engaging them with the use of technology as soon as they sign their offer letter. Send them an email with information about their new workplace and what to expect the first day. Copy them on the internal announcement message, send them LinkedIn connections, and encourage their new colleagues to do the same. This will set them up to feel welcomed before they set foot in the door. At a minimum, send them the names of their teammates.
Do your onboarding plans include setting the new team member up for success? Onboarding is all too often confused with orientation, whereas it should go well beyond the regular half–day how–to seminar. Very few organizations look to the onboarding process as a tool to engage the employee effectively. I contend that you have one shot to welcome and engage a new employee. Too many times, it is left to chance. We will talk more about onboarding in a future article.
There are pillars of great onboarding that every IT organization should ensure they are incorporating into their talent acquisition plan:
- Rules and Regulations: Have you explained all the rules and regulations to the new employee so that they understand what is and what is not allowed from the beginning? Or, did you throw days of policies to read and absorb at them without giving them the time needed or the right resources to guide them?
- Responsibilities: Are the responsibilities of the new hire well articulated with measurable results along with a clear understanding of how their role fits into the workings of the overall organization? Or, do you expect them to hit the ground running without a mentor or buddy by their side?
- Reasoning: Have you explained the organization’s values, mission, personality, overall culture, and allowed for examples of how it will show up? Or, do you expect that they will figure it out along the way?
- Relationships: Are you helping the new employee to build relationships with peers, managers, mentors, and other relevant colleagues and customers? Or, are you leaving them to sit in their cubicle to figure out who is who?
Many studies have shown that employees say having a friend at work is the essential element of being happy at work. A happy employee is an engaged employee. An engaged employee is a productive employee.
Mentoring can increase employee productivity by up to 88 percent. Establish a mentor for every new employee right from the first day, regardless of their years of experience. The manager and mentor should check in with the new employee multiple times per week to ensure they are comfortable and succeed in the company. Do you regularly take a new employee out to lunch with their new co-workers? Doing so helps the new and existing employees to get to know their teammates on a more informal basis and leaves them with a positive perspective of the company.
The Society of Human Resources Management has a myriad of great resources supporting onboarding best practices.
Are you exploring lessons learned from employees’ experiences at separation from the company? Or, are you allowing this knowledge to walk out the door?
Seriously, there are great lessons to be gathered. Whether the employee resigns or is terminated specific to overall performance management is irrelevant. Work with HR to ensure they discover during the exit interview the reasons for the employee leaving the company in a form that enables the departing employee to feel safe. If you want to learn from it and course correct, you need to hear the employee’s candid views on their work, department, leadership, the company in general, and any “de-motivating” factors that might have caused the employee to resign. The reputation of your organization depends on it.
Now that we got that out of the way – I look forward to discussing performance review best practices with you next week.
Until next week!
IT Executive Advisor and Leadership Coach
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