Table of Contents
Let’s take a minute to answer two simple questions: What is a continuous employee success strategy? And why are we talking about it now?
To put it succinctly: Employee Success is the new (and improved) performance management. In the old days of annual reviews, yearly goal-cycles, and a management style that felt more like bossing than coaching, employees dreaded receiving feedback. Goals grew cold in the year that elapsed between setting and completion. Employees had little say in how their work was accomplished. It was a company-first world rather than a people-first world.
No wonder the old way of “performance management” needed a reboot.
Employees are quick to leave organizations that don’t place a priority on their personal well-being, maximized performance, and opportunities for growth (not to mention their need for a sense of legitimate appreciation). So– if your organization wants to attract, empower, and retain top talent, a continuous employee success program is absolutely necessary.
Why does it need to be “continuous”? Because work and company culture happen continuously.
Are we throwing the performance-management-baby out with the bathwater? No way. A continuous employee success program takes the best of the old, habitual performance management processes and transforms them– from inorganic, anxiety-inducing events into positive, change-driving culture. Many leaders have already made the shift. In fact, our recent trend report found only 7% of managers still practice annual reviews in isolation.
Ready to join the 93%? Let’s dive into what continuous performance management is, what it can do for your company, and specific examples of what this style of people management can look like.
What is continuous employee success?
Continuous employee success is a methodology that delivers several important upgrades to traditional performance management. It’s continuous, timely, and multidirectional. Let’s look at each of those more closely.
“Continuous” is what it sounds like. Your employee success processes, including goal setting and tracking, weekly 1-on-1 Sync-Ups, quarterly performance Check-Ins, real-time feedback (available through our platform), and other organic performance conversations, take place on a continual basis throughout the year. By operating in this way, you’re carrying on one seamless, ongoing employee success conversation. That, in turn, helps your organization construct a powerful feedback culture.
Timely– shifting to a continuous management model ensures that your feedback arrives while it’s still actionable. You’re able to provide employees coaching and direction in real-time, empowering your team members to shift, adapt, and introduce efficiencies as the need arises, rather than waiting until the end of the year or quarter when the project is long-forgotten. (Feedback on a project completed three months ago may be an interesting post-mortem, but the employee can’t do anything to put it into effect now — that’s a frustrating experience.)
Finally, continuous feedback conversations are most effective when they’re multidirectional. This means weekly Sync-Ups between employees and managers focus on the manager’s performance as well as the employee’s– and what each can do to help the other. The conversation also includes peer and team feedback. No more once-a-year barrage of one-sided critiques– your reviews are an ongoing, participatory conversation.
How are continuous employee success practices different from traditional performance reviews?
Imagine a football team whose coach only offers direction and coaching once per year. Now imagine a team with a group of coaches actively involved in reviewing plays, planning strategies, and pushing players to improve technique. Which one is going to the Super Bowl?
The traditional annual review process is a model with good intentions. But it’s a poor fit for today’s workplace, leading to inefficiency, lost productivity, and a sense of dread that impacts your company culture’s psychological safety.
Inefficiency: Annual performance reviews are an historical snapshot of the employee’s performance over the last year. They may not reflect the present, and feedback delivered comes too late to be practical.
Lost productivity: There’s no disputing it — context-switching costs us in terms of productivity. Just ask the American Psychological Association (plus hundreds of business thought leaders). The more complex and less familiar the task, the more time and energy it takes us to switch gears. Keep employee success practices integrated smoothly throughout the year and make them an automatic part of your organizational culture. You’ll avoid those lost dead weeks at the end of each year or quarter when managers must “stop working” to write reviews for their reports.
Employee dread: Shifting to continuous and multidirectional feedback is the ultimate cure for performance review anxiety. If you’ve ever procrastinated on delivering bad news, you know that dread accumulates like debt. (In fact, the Harvard Business Review verifies it.) Having performance conversations continuously turns feedback from a scary annual event to an ordinary conversation. And removing that fear makes the feedback easier to hear, integrate, and make use of.
What are the benefits of continuous employee success practices?
Why is continuous employee success important for your bottom line? Because it keeps your employees working collectively toward your organization’s goals year-round, continually improving performance.
And the stats don’t lie. Gallup reports high-performing teams experience:
40% less employee turnover
37% reduction in absenteeism
48% fewer staff safety incidents than disengaged teams
Want to learn more? Our article The Benefits of Continuous Employee Success unpacks the full argument.
6 examples of continuous employee success practices
Still wondering exactly what continuous employee success looks like? No worries. Here are 6 elements to incorporate into your employee success practices right now:
These 1-on-1 performance conversations between an employee and their manager should be held regularly. (We recommend weekly.) Sync-Ups are a casual, less-structured opportunity to build personal connections, provide real-time feedback, give updates on goals, and discuss blockers. So aim to have these once per week, though if you’re new to this mode, you could start with once a month.
WorkTango’s Goals & Feedback solution makes keeping a regular rhythm of Sync-Ups easy. The platform reminds managers and team members about their next meeting, allows them to collaborate on a shared agenda to guide the discussion, provides them a place to take notes and flag items for follow-up, and even makes goal-progress continuously visible for access during conversations.
We don’t advocate for Sync-Ups lightly, by the way — employees in workplaces with regular 1-on-1 conversations are 400% more likely to report that their performance reviews were useful, compared with those receiving annual reviews only.
Here’s where the multidirectional aspect of continuous employee success comes in. It’s essential that an employee receives timely, specific feedback not only from their manager, but also from peers and from team members who report to them.
Employees are often more comfortable with other team members than their leaders, so incorporating peer feedback helps decouple “review” from “ack!”. , It also grants employees a fuller picture of how they’re doing by offering a diverse range of perspectives.
How are you going to get peer feedback? With our Goals & Feedback solution, any person can request input from any other member of the organization–anytime.
Quarterly performance Check-Ins
Performance reviews aren’t going anywhere– they’re a key part of a continuous employee success plan. They just become more useful, insightful, and accurate because they’re performed in a more timely rhythm.
Doing performance appraisals quarterly (as we advocate in our Ultimate Guide to Performance Reviews) allows the conversations to focus on newly completed work, discuss ongoing challenges, and highlight growth — all while it’s fresh in each person’s memory. That’s why human resources leaders at organizations holding regular performance appraisals are 1.5 times more likely to say they’re helpful than those at organizations doing annual reviews.
Employees should never be surprised by what they hear in a quarterly Check-In. Why? Because this more formal performance evaluation is built on the foundation of ongoing weekly Sync-Ups. When performance is a weekly topic of discussion, big problems stay small, goals can be adjusted mid-cycle, and employees can ask for feedback all along the way.
Another reason why employees should never be surprised by the contents of a performance evaluation? Because with WorkTango’s Goals & Feedback solution, individual, shared, and organizational goals are visible 24/7, along with the state of their progress. Employees and managers have constant access–so they can stay aligned and on-pace.
Recognition & Rewards
Here’s a game-changing workplace tip: Take offering a recognition and rewards program out of the “nice-to-have” column in your performance process checklist and make it a “need-to-have” — if not now, then yesterday. Because appreciation is a key element of the employee experience, and there’s no more direct driver of employee appreciation than recognition and rewards.
In our guide, the Power of Recognition & Rewards, we note that 80% of employees report feeling motivated to work harder when their manager shows appreciation for their work.
WorkTango’s Recognition & Rewards solution makes giving meaningful, real-time appreciation as simple as a few clicks. Leaders and peers can hop on the Recognition feed and say a public (or private) “wow,” “great job,” “thank you” to anyone across the organization. They can also send a gift of reward points to show their appreciation. Employees can then use their points to choose the experience or item that means most to them from the rewards catalog. When people receive meaningful appreciation, they feel more connected, better motivated, and more aligned with organizational mission and values. That’s a huge win for employee success.
Goal-setting and management
Goals are a fundamental part of any employee success program, and the key to alignment and productivity within your organization. So work with managers to ensure that they collaborate with individual team members to set goals that are aligned with company OKRs (Objectives and Key Results). How do you make sure quarterly goals are well-aligned, ambitious, and achievable? By using a solution like Goals & Feedback, which keeps the waterfall of organizational, team, and individual goals constantly within reach. From there, incorporate goal tracking into those weekly 1-on-1 Sync-Ups to make sure you’re empowering progress and that team members are staying on track.
New to goals, or looking to revamp your approach? Check out our Definitive Guide to Setting Goals at Work.
Surveys & Insights
Your employee success plan should be dynamic and responsive to the realities of your organization and culture. WorkTango’s Surveys & Insights allows you to keep a finger on the pulse of the employee experience.
With pulse surveys you can regularly gather employee sentiment around important issues like DE&I, employee well-being, trust in leadership, employee engagement, productivity, and faith in the organization’s direction.
What happens to the results of the survey? They go immediately to the people who need them (no pre-filtering by HR required). Leaders receive easy-to-read reports with individualized recommendations for learning and follow-up action based on their team’s input.
Results can also be sliced by team, department, level in the organization, region– or any other designation you choose.
Here’s the most important part of an employee listening program though: acting on what you hear. When you make changes promptly in response to people’s feedback, you demonstrate that you’re listening, and that you care about individuals’ ideas, experiences, and opinions. Engagement grows, connection grows, and employee success practices become that much more effective.
Curious about how you can use survey data to drive decisions? We can show you how to get started with WorkTango’s Engagement Surveys.
How do you transition to continuous employee success?
Ready to make the change? We’ve identified 5 key steps in our comprehensive guide, 5 Steps to Change Your Performance Management to Employee Success:
- Outline reasons for change
- Identify the desired goals and outcomes of your new process
- Find the new solution
- Adopt a new mindset
- Roll out the new process to your team and company
Spoiler: One of these is harder than it seems. But we’ve got you covered. Find the full guide here.
The need for Employee Success is continuous. Your practices should be too.
So there we have it. Continuous employee success is a game-changer, with an indisputable impact on your organization’s business outcomes, productivity, engagement, and more. So get started today — and watch the payoff continue.
At WorkTango, we’re revolutionizing how the world’s most forward-thinking companies engage and inspire their people. We offer the only Employee Experience Platform that enables meaningful recognition and rewards, supports alignment through goal setting and feedback, and offers actionable insights through employee surveys.
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. So if you’re ready to improve (work) lives, schedule a demo today.