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Today’s more progressive organizational leaders are shifting away from outdated, company-first performance management strategies and toward a new people-centered approach: employee success. Just intending to move in that direction isn’t enough to make it happen though. You need insight into the strengths, needs, and areas of opportunity for your organization and for the individuals who are a part of it.
, You need to know what’s working and which opportunities you’re missing. You need to know your options for action and how to put them in motion. In short, you need strategy if you’re going to maximize the effectiveness of your employee success program
Good talent management is like exercising regularly: We understand the benefits-– yet many people never get around to putting what they know into practice. It’s the same with companies. Organizational research firm, Korn Ferry, tells us the organizations that are best-in-class at talent management are 3X more profitable than those that aren’t. The payoff is waiting for those who are willing to refine their employee success strategy and act on it.
How come some organizations or teams never get there? Change is hard. Conversations about employee performance can be intimidating and complex–especially without a robust framework in place. This article is about that framework. Our goal is to put solutions at your disposal to help you maximize the effectiveness of your employee success program, including understanding the impact of your team’s actions on their own growth and on business results.
The first step in creating a strategic employee success program? Get clear on what’s currently working for your team, and what’s not.
Start by asking the following questions:
- Can we clearly identify and measure the impact of our day-to-day work?
- Are our actions aligned with our organizational goals?
- How do we identify and address performance challenges as a team?
- How do we identify and maximize high performers?
- Do my team members understand how their work contributes to the organization’s mission?
- Does leadership review employee performance and offer valuable feedback consistently?
- If not, what’s holding them back? If so, how do employees incorporate that feedback into their work?
Bring these questions to your next team meeting. Alternatively, send a survey through WorkTango’s Surveys & Insights. Results are immediate; reports are clear, simple, and customizable. You can head into your next meeting with a wealth of data to work from.
Speaking of responses: If you’re on the right track, you and your team members should have clear — and specific — answers for each of these questions. If answers are absent or vague, don’t worry. Let’s take a look at your existing approach.
Unlock the power. Transform your culture.
The Benefits of Employee Success
Before you can go on any journey, it’s essential to know your starting point. When it comes to effective employee success practices, that means benchmarking the approach your organization has been using to date (no matter how formal or informal). Then, having a hard think on how that process functions.
Here are a few pointers to guide your reflection.
Consider the term of your assessment cycle
The first question to ask about your performance assessment system is: How frequently are we assessing?
If your company is still doing annual performance reviews, it’s time for a major re-evaluation of your process. Not only do these reviews attempt to reduce an incredible amount of employee time and work to a single snapshot each year — they’re time intensive, and they raise employee dread.
In a flexible business climate where speed and agility matter more than ever, waiting an entire year to review performance just doesn’t work. Providing real-time feedback, coaching, and career development discussions is critical to the success of both individuals and the organizations to which they contribute.
A great continuous employee success program is built on relationships. Managers should have weekly 1-on-1 Sync-Up conversations with each team member. The rapport they build allows them to give and receive feedback as a normal part of work life. That takes the panic out of assessments. It also increases the accuracy of performance evaluations– there’s a lot more data (and more current data) from which to draw. On top of that foundation of weekly Sync-Ups, managers should hold quarterly performance Check-Ins. It’s a great time to highlight employee successes with the last quarter’s goals and to set new ones in alignment with organizational objectives.
Think about how data informs your performance management strategy 📊
What drives your understanding of individual and organizational success? Is it qualitative reviews and anecdotes from leaders and managers? We hope not. If it’s anything but data, you’re not providing your people with the highest possible degree of accountability. And you’re not giving yourself the best possible legal protection.
Start thinking about how you can use objective, quantifiable measures to paint the picture of how individual employees are doing. Those measures might vary from position to position. So identify clear KPIs, individual goals, and success indicators that everybody can agree on.
In WorkTango’s Goals & Feedback solution, company, department, team, and individual goals are always accessible. That makes continuous alignment and agility possible. In the platform, direct feedback from any member of the organization is only a few clicks away. With the ability to track goals and ask for constant feedback, potentially big problems stay small.
Driving insights with data
Gauge performance management strategy’s impact on culture 💬
If you want to have a maximally effective employee success program, it’s time to tune into the employee voice and ask some targeted questions. How are feedback,Sync-Ups, Check-Ins, , and talent reviews operating in your company culture currently? Do these give employees anxiety? Or are they part of everyday conversation, received without fear?
One of the most important things you can do to boost morale is to practice active listening. Talk to your employees about performance. You need to know how employee awareness of expectations impacts their daily success. You also need to know how the style of your assessment system impacts the way they feel, approach, or think about what they do.
Use a few different strategies to learn how your team feels about the culture of feedback, including:
- Hosting employee focus groups
- Surveying your employees regularly– if you use WorkTango’s Surveys & Insights solution, employee responses can be anonymous or confidential, and results can be separated by team, department, region, or any other designation you choose
- Bring in outside culture experts to help you gauge the climate
Once you’ve heard the employee voice regarding your employee success practices, it’s time to put their suggestions into action. That’s where the real power is.
Evaluate your managers and supervisors as coaches 🏅
As you assess your current approach, ask yourself, How are we setting our leaders up to lead well?
Let’s be honest: Management is a skill that takes dedicated effort to master. Work with your leadership team and managers to make sure they have the skills they need to deliver effective feedback.
How will you know who needs help and with which skills? The answer is frequent employee pulse surveys around managerial performance. Responses will allow you to see which leaders are thriving and which need coaching. The Surveys & Insights solution offers each manager tailored recommendations for learning and actions based on their team’s responses.
On the other side of the equation: How about actively listening to the voice of leaders too? Survey managers to learn:
- How they feel about your current assessment system — is it helpful? Easy to use?
- What metrics they’re using to assess employees
- Their comfort level providing constructive feedback
- What support they need from Human Resources to be successful
Remember, active listening is about acting. When managers or employees provide insight, listen and respond. Great coaches aren’t born, they’re made.
A strong performance review has 6 qualities. It’s frequent, low-risk, data-driven, fair and transparent, enhanced by technology, and tied to organizational goals and values. Here’s how to instill all 6 in your review process.
Make sure your employee success system is:
Performance doesn’t just happen once a year. Your performance conversations shouldn’t either. WorkTango recommends weekly one-on-oneSync-Ups between employees and managers, and quarterly performance Check-Ins. Download our 1-on-1 templates for start, stop, continue, agenda-based, and goaling approach methods, and get the full story on the power of quarterly Check-Ins.
If a team member is surprised at the content of their performance Check-In, their leader has failed them.
But when you weave your employee success process into everyday life at your organization, employees are never surprised. They always know where they stand, which takes the dread out of reviews. Additionally, frequent conversations between managers and team members create a friendly environment and invite two-way feedback.
In an environment in which everyone is used to constantly giving and receiving feedback — — feedback doesn’t feel scary. It’s viewed as a learning and development opportunity. Which makes it a lot easier to listen to, making your program more effective in the long run.
Feedback examples, tips, and more, in one guide.
Employee Feedback 101: Tips and Tricks
As we mentioned above, if your system is dependent on qualitative feedback (that is, the opinions of the people giving the reviews), you aren’t measuring performance objectively. That’s not fair to your employees. Not to mention, you’re probably not in compliance with human resource laws, either.
But this is a human resource process, and humans are biased. What do we do?
We start with data. Then we overlay that data with examples, insights, and recommendations to paint a full and fair picture.
If your current employee success system doesn’t prioritize objective data, start by identifying the metrics that matter most in your organization, such as:
- project completion rates, as determined by a project management tool
- ticket completion times, as tracked by work tools
- attendance to key meetings, as tracked by meeting scheduling systems
- positive/negative impact on financial success, as indicated by work on major projects/initiatives
4. Fair and transparent
Using data to drive personnel decisions is a great step toward objectivity. But it’s not the whole journey. So for full fairness and transparency, make sure your employee success process is structured and consistent across the organization. Every employee should be measured using the same tools and by the same standards.
Want to make it easy for your leaders to use objective, quantifiable measures to deliver structured reviews? That brings us to…
5. Enhanced by technology
Helping employees succeed takes time and energy. But with the right technology, you can implement a seamless system that makes it easy for leaders to execute effective employee success processes.
So make feedback easily documented and accessible. Set reminders for Sync-Ups and quarterly Check-Ins. Eliminate the time it takes to generate reports. These are just a few of the benefits of using technology to reap the rewards of a culture of continuous feedback.
Good employee success technology should:
- Track goals in a way that is visible to the entire team
- Facilitate frequent Sync-Ups and Check-Ins
- Document feedback and coaching
- Assess talent and identify high-potential employees
- Deliver insights and reports on goals progress across the organization
- Offer an easy way to give recognition so employees stay motivated
Want to drive connection and alignment? (The correct answer here is “yes.”) Then tie individual performance goals directly to overall organizational goals (which are always visible in WorkTango’s platform). This not only increases organizational effectiveness. It also drives employee engagement by revealing how employee contributions are part of a bigger picture.
And to continually strengthen company culture, make values part of the review process as well. Regularly discuss and reward the attitudes, beliefs, and soft skills that are integral to your organization’s success. That way, the entire team will find it easy to remember what’s important, and why.
Speaking of rewarding employee actions and attitudes that align with organizational goals, you need a way to offer positive, public feedback. The Recognition & Rewards solution makes it easy for managers and peers to pop on and say “thanks”, “great job”, “couldn’t have done it without you” in real-time when it means most.
Employee success processes are fundamental to running a great organization. Because an emphasis on performance provides you with a granular understanding of your team. It also creates a roadmap for how you can improve, and encourages a thriving, positive culture.
As you think about your organization’s employee success strategy, here are some key things to remember:
Making a commitment to employee success allows your business to:
- Maximize employee performance at the individual, departmental, and whole-organization levels
- Understand why and how you’re succeeding or failing
- Protect itself legally in cases of employee termination
The first step to leveraging that power is building an understanding of your current performance assessment practice and its success. This includes thinking about your:
- Feedback frequency
- Approach to data
- Employee culture
- Management support
- Opportunities for growth and employee development
Make continuous employee success attainable
At WorkTango, we’re revolutionizing how the world’s most forward-thinking companies engage and inspire their people. We offer the only holistic Employee Experience Platform built for the modern workplace that enables meaningful recognition and rewards, offers actionable insights through employee surveys, and supports alignment through goal setting and feedback.
WorkTango is built for the workplace we all want to be a part of – where priorities become clear, achievements are celebrated, and employees have a voice. To learn more, check out our platform overview video, or schedule a demo.